Camp is over, depth charts are nearly set, and the charcoal is on the grill. Yes, that’s college football you smell in the air.SEC fans are set for a slate of opening weekend games that includes nonconference matchups between ranked teams, first-year coaches looking to establish identities and a few cupcakes mixed in-between.

What should you expect in Week 1? Let’s break it down with some odds and predictions:

Main courses

No. 6 Washington vs. No. 9 Auburn (-1.5) — Atlanta

  • Battle in the trenches
  • Stidham has more control
  • Auburn’s underrated WR’s

The Huskies and Tigers get things going at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta in the only matchup of top-10 teams in Week 1. Auburn will give quarterback Jarrett Stidham more control of the offense in his second year as the starter, which should make the Tigers more consistent thanks to his familiarity with underrated receivers Ryan Davis, Darius Slayton and Nate Craig-Myers. This game will be won and lost in the trenches, with Auburn’s stout front seven going against Washington’s experienced offensive line. The Tigers will get into the backfield consistently, disrupt plays and make life difficult for Washington running back Myles Gaskin and quarterback Jake Browning. Pick: Auburn (-1.5)

No. 8 Miami (-3.5) vs. No. 25 LSU — Arlington, Texas

  • Burrow at LSU
  • Tiger D attacks
  • Stout Hurricane front seven

The Sunday night special at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, features great defenses and questionable offenses on both sides. The Tigers will start Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow at quarterback against a tough Miami front seven that will load up against the run and force Burrow to win with his arm. Meanwhile, Malik Rosier and Co. will have their hands full with the Tiger D — specifically the secondary. Quarterback is only one of LSU’s question marks, and the lack of an established running back is as much of a problem as an established signal-caller. The Canes will stymie the Tigers offense, find enough O of their own and win a sloppy one deep in the heart of Texas. Pick: Miami (-3.5)

Strong cocktails

Louisville vs. No. 1 Alabama (-24.5) — Orlando, Florida

  • Tua or Jalen?
  • Inexperienced Tide secondary
  • Post-Lamar era

Tua or Jalen? Jalen or Tua? The truth of the matter is that, against Louisville on Saturday night, it doesn’t really matter if it’s Tua Tagovailoa or Jalen Hurts taking the snaps for the Crimson Tide. The big story here is what to make of the new-look Tide secondary. If they struggle against first-year starter Jawon “Puma” Pass, then Alabama might have to go with Tagovailoa simply because he provides more explosiveness in the passing game moving forward. If the lockdown secondary of old returns, maybe Hurts is the better long-term option. But the game will take care of itself. The Tide will control both lines of scrimmage and the game from the outset. That said, expect Louisville to keep its ones in longer than normal in order to get Pass more game reps. So a backdoor cover is likely in the cards. Pick: Louisville (+24.5)

No. 17 West Virginia at Tennessee (+10)

  • Track meet
  • What will the Vol O look like?
  • Will Grier Heisman party

Jeremy Pruitt is the right man to turnaround the fledgling Tennessee football program … it just won’t happen in Game 1. Jarrett Guarantano will likely get the start at quarterback, but neither he nor Stanford graduate transfer Kelly Chryst are capable of keeping up with West Virginia quarterback Will Grier, wide receiver David Sills and coach Dana Holgorsen’s high-octane offense. Tennessee is going to have to go score-for-score with the Mountaineers, and that’s simply not possible with offensive line questions, quarterback questions and a change to a new scheme under Pruitt. Pick: West Virginia (-10)

Appetizers

Ole Miss at Texas Tech (-2.5)

  • Point-per-minute
  • Ole Miss wide receivers ball out
  • Texas Tech D can’t hang

Get ready for a track meet in Houston, because the Rebels and Red Raiders are going to roll up and down the field for three … four … OK, maybe five hours. In the end, take coach Matt Luke and Co. to spring the minor upset. Simply put, wide receivers A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf and Damarkus Lodge are almost impossible to cover, and certainly can’t be covered by a Big 12 defense. Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu will find his receivers early and often, and the Rebels will pull away late in a fun one. Pick: Ole Miss (-2.5)

Central Michigan at Kentucky (-17)

  • New Wildcat QB
  • Ohhhh, that Snell
  • OL questions

Let’s get this out of the way rather quickly — Kentucky isn’t in line to be shocked at home. When you have star running back Benny Snell at your disposal, you have one of the game’s best fallback options in case things get weird. That said, there might be some inconsistency in the Wildcat attack due to quarterback Terry Wilson’s lack of experience and the unexpected season-ending injury to left tackle Landon Young in late August. Because of that, the Chippewas will slide in the back door for a late cover. Pick: Central Michigan (+17)

Source: Yahoo
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