Hogs, Vols or Rebels have best chance to win against ranked opponents?

In this photo taken Sept. 8, 2012, Arkansas coach John L. Smith, center, meets with safetys Defonta Lowe (3), Eric Bennett and the rest of the team during a time out in an NCAA college football game against Louisiana Monroe in Little Rock, Ark. After a 34-31 overtime loss to the Warhawks, the pressure is on Smith as the suddenly unranked Razorbacks prepare for No. 1 Alabama on Saturday, Sept. 15. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)<br />

Photo by Daniel Johnston, AP2012

In this photo taken Sept. 8, 2012, Arkansas coach John L. Smith, center, meets with safetys Defonta Lowe (3), Eric Bennett and the rest of the team during a time out in an NCAA college football game against Louisiana Monroe in Little Rock, Ark. After a 34-31 overtime loss to the Warhawks, the pressure is on Smith as the suddenly unranked Razorbacks prepare for No. 1 Alabama on Saturday, Sept. 15. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

_______________

I would love to think that my Hogs with their highpowered offense would have a great chance to knock of top ranked Bama this Saturday, but I don’t even know if our starting quarterback will be back.

I think it is probably a long shot for Ole Miss to win this weekend either. They face a Texas team loaded with talent. The best bet for a winner in the midsouth area this Saturday is probably the Tennessee Vols. Florida is not the Florida of the past under the old ball coach or Urban Meyer. That is why I am picking Tennessee to win that matchup.

Tough competition coming to call on Ole Miss, Tennessee, Arkansas

Top-shelf competition comes calling on Ole Miss, UT, Arkansas

  • By Ron Higgins
  • Memphis Commercial Appeal
  • Posted September 12, 2012 at 3 a.m., updated September 12, 2012 at 12:06 a.m.

So which Mid-South Southeastern Conference football team would you want or not want to be heading into the third Saturday of the season, with each squad about to battle Top 25 competition?

Maybe green and growing, 2-0 Ole Miss, which will likely discover this weekend in Oxford that the differences in last week’s opponent, Texas-El Paso, and this week’s, No. 14 Texas, are no hyphen, no El Paso and four national championships.

Maybe 2-0 and No. 23 Tennessee, stepping up in class to face No. 18 Florida in the Vols’ SEC opener in Knoxville after the Gators won at Texas A & M, 20-17, in their first league game last weekend.

Or maybe 1-1 Arkansas, having to welcome No. 1 ranked and defending national champion Alabama to Fayetteville for an SEC opener after the Razorbacks were upset 34-31 in overtime by Louisiana-Monroe last Saturday in Little Rock.

On the surface, the biggest talent disparity this weekend is between Ole Miss, where first-year coach Hugh Freeze has already played 16 redshirt or true freshmen, and Texas, where Mack Brown, 13th winningest coach in NCAA history, returns 16 starters including one of the best defensive fronts in the nation.

“This is a prep of what we’re about to see these next few weeks when we get into our conference games,” Ole Miss junior rover Charles Sawyer said of the Longhorns of the Big 12. “It’s going to show us where we are and where we need to go. If we win, we’re still going to have room for improvement.”

Las Vegas oddsmakers have the Longhorns just a 10½-point favorite. Freeze will never admit it and shouldn’t, but losing by two TDs or fewer to Texas and getting none of his players hurt would be a victory of sorts.

“We wish we had more depth and we wish we were more talent at certain spots,” said Freeze, whose team has taken baby steps in wins over Central Arkansas (49-27) and UTEP (28-10). “Our kids have played with great effort, but we’re heading into this game knowing we’ve not played a complete game, not played four great quarters.”

Though quarterback Tyler Bray is averaging 321.5 yards passing for a team averaging 43 points after handling North Carolina State (35-21) and Georgia State (51-13), third-year Tennessee coach Derek Dooley isn’t ecstatic.

Yes, he’s happy that his team has played well and gained confidence. And isn’t it wonderful that ESPN’s “GameDay” will set up shop outside Neyland Stadium for Saturday’s game as the Vols try to break a seven-game losing streak to the Gators? And that Tennessee is a 3-point favorite?

“At this point last year, we were 2-0, thought we were playing pretty good and chunking the ball around,” Dooley said. “Then, we went down there (to Florida) and got our tails whipped (33-23, the first of seven SEC losses for the Vols).

“(North Carolina State) was a good early test, but this is going to be a different test. It’s going to be against a level of personnel who we haven’t beaten in a long time and against one of the best (defensive) fronts in the country. There is more to come down the road. You look at these games and it sums up what this league is.”

“GameDay” might have been heading to Fayetteville this weekend, but took a detour when then-No. 8 Arkansas plummeted all the way out of the top 25 rankings with the OT loss to Louisiana-Monroe of the Sun Belt Conference. The fact that Hogs’ quarterback Tyler Wilson might not play against Alabama after being knocked out of the ULM loss with a head injury has made the Crimson Tide a stunning 21-point road favorite.

Hogs interim coach John L. Smith has been trying to frame the ULM loss as hurtful, but not a season-killer since it was in nonconference play.

“We’re 0-0 in the SEC and we still feel like we’re a top 10 team,” said Arkansas tight end Chris Gragg, tied for second in the league in receptions.

© 2012 Memphis Commercial Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Wade Payne /Associated Press<br /><br />
Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter (11) celebrates with teammate Mychal Rivera (81) during third quarter of its 51-13 rout of Georgia State last Saturday in Knoxville. This week's Neyland Stadium visitor, Florida, has beaten the Vols seven straight times.<br /><br />

Photo by Wade Payne, AP2012

Wade Payne /Associated Press
Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter (11) celebrates with teammate Mychal Rivera (81) during third quarter of its 51-13 rout of Georgia State last Saturday in Knoxville. This week’s Neyland Stadium visitor, Florida, has beaten the Vols seven straight times.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: