It's opening week but the SEC schedule already features an intra-league matchup. Ole Miss visits Vanderbilt Thursday night in a game featuring the league's two biggest surprise teams of 2012.
All told, 13 games are on the Week 1 schedule, and several of them should be pretty entertaining. Here's a look at them, with our crack panel of experts offering their predictions:
THURSDAY, AUG. 29
North Carolina at South Carolina: I like this game, can't wait to see the SEC keep pounding on the ACC. Gamecocks should win by 17. 34-17
Ole Miss at Vanderbilt: The distractions and loss of some good football players have hurt the Vandy roster. Ole Miss has gained plenty of talent on the roster. This might not be that close. 38-20 Ole Miss
SATURDAY, AUG. 31
Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (Atlanta): With Alabama expected to win another National Championship I don't see them losing this game, but I do see them losing a game this season. 42-13 Tide
Louisiana-Lafayette at Arkansas: Arkansas has a new staff which is very similar to Tennessee's. It will be interesting to see how they play in the opener. I can see Jim Chaney abandoning the run already. 33-10 Razorbacks
Washington State at Auburn: The battle of 3-win teams, I will give the edge to the SEC but barely. 20-17 Auburn
Toledo at Florida: This shouldn't be much of a game, Florida should dominate. They could be looking ahead, though, to their showdown with Miami the next weekend. 42-14 Gators
Georgia at Clemson: This is a tough pick for me because I know Georgia lost a ton on defense and Clemson is the two-point favorite. Georgia should be great on offense, though. I will go against the SEC in this one. 38-34 Clemson
Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky (Nashville): Tennessee fans keep an eye on this match-up as the Hilltoppers roll into Knoxville the next weekend. They are only a three-point underdog against the Wildcats. 27-24 Kentucky
LSU vs. TCU (Arlington, Texas): This really shouldn't be much of a game. LSU has way more talent, but does play down to the opponent. 35-21 LSU
Miss. State vs. Oklahoma State (Houston): Should be a good game, but again picking against the SEC in this one. 28-21 Okie State
Murray State at Missouri: Should be a warm up for Missouri. 38-21 Tigers
Rice at Texas A&M: The Aggies have had a tough off season, but this shouldn't be close. 48-20 Aggies
Austin Peay at Tennessee: The Butch Jones era begins with win number 800 for the program. 56-10 Vols
THURSDAY, AUG. 29
North Carolina at South Carolina: The head ball coach believes he's headed for an SEC title this fall, so he should have his troops coached up and ready to go. Gamecocks, 31-17
Ole Miss at Vanderbilt: James Franklin should have left Vandy for a better job following his 2012 success. He'll begin to realize that about halftime of this game. Rebels, 34-17
SATURDAY, AUG. 31
Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (Atlanta): The Hokies return nine defensive starters from a team that went 7-6 last fall. Unfortunately, the Tide returns a bunch of guys who will be first-round NFL Draft picks someday. Bama, 35-17
Louisiana-Lafayette at Arkansas: Lafayette went 9-4 last fall and will provide a sterner test than the typical Game 1 cupcake. Still, the Bret Bielema era should start on a winning note. Razorbacks, 27-20
Washington State at Auburn: Normally, Gus Malzahn versus Mike Leach would make for an offensive extravaganza. Unfortunately, the season's too young and the rosters are too weak. Auburn, 28-21
Toledo at Florida: The Rockets went 10-3 last season but won't be launching in The Swamp. Gators, 31-14
Georgia at Clemson: This one could be 31-30 ... at halftime. Two explosive offenses should make for one high-scoring thriller. Clemson, 45-42
Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky (Nashville): UK head man Mark Stoops may be glad this game isn't inside the state borders after he loses to Bobby Petrino, who many UK fans thought should've gotten the Big Blue job. Hilltoppers, 31-24
LSU vs. TCU (Arlington, Texas): Les Miles will be outcoached but his talented Tigers will still win. LSU, 24-20
Miss. State vs. Oklahoma State (Houston): Bulldogs head man Dan Mullen seemed a lot smarter when he was coordinating Florida's talent and had Tim Tebow at quarterback. Cowboys, 42-21
Murray State at Missouri: Gary Pinkel better savor this one. It may be the only game his Tigers win all season. Missouri, 31-14
Rice at Texas A&M: The first 5,000 fans get helmets autographed by Johnny Football. Aggies, 34-10
Austin Peay at Tennessee: The Governors lost 65-15 to Eastern Illinois last fall, so I'm guessing even the Vols' suspect offense will put up some serious points. Tennessee, 52-14
THURSDAY, AUG. 29
North Carolina at South Carolina: With no Marcus Lattimore and no Ace Sanders I'm interested to see who are the 'Cocks playmakers. South Carolina, 16-6.
Ole Miss at Vanderbilt: Breaking in a first-year starting quarterback in the SEC and in the opener is a recipe for disaster. Ole Miss, 38-9.
SATURDAY, AUG. 31
Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (Atlanta): The Crimson Tide rarely loses in Atlanta. Amari Cooper and T.J. Yeldon give Frank Beamer nightmares for 8 months after this one. Alabama, 49-6.
Louisiana-Lafayette at Arkansas: I get my Louisiana schools mixed up but I think this version is the Rajun Cajuns. That's fun to say. Anyhow, Otha Peters leads a revamped 'Hogs defense. Arkansas, 12-3.
Washington State at Auburn: Nothing but respect for the offensive mind for Gus Malzahn but can he turn a cornerback into a signal-caller playmaker? We will see. Auburn 30-20.
Toledo at Florida: The Rockets find out rather quickly what SEC speed looks like against the best defense in the country. Florida, 21-0.
Georgia at Clemson: Should-have-been-Tennessee QB Tajh Boyd shows the world a Georgia defense trying to rebuild that couldn't stop the run in 2012 is no better. Clemson, 42-39.
Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky (Nashville): This game is in Nashville? Why? I'm so confused right now I have no idea how to pick this one. Just throwing a dart. Western Kentucky, 38-20.
LSU vs. TCU (Arlington, Texas): It's hard to say anything positive about the Tigers with Jeremy Hill on that roster. LSU, 27-10.
Miss. State vs. Oklahoma State (Houston): Intriguing matchup. Tough one to pick. Oklahoma State, 52-46.
Murray State at Missouri: In theory, this one shouldn't be close at all. Missouri, 34-13.
Rice at Texas A&M: Who needs a Heisman Trophy winner versus the Owls? He's probably got Carpal tunnel from signing in obscure hotel rooms anyhow. Texas A&M, 57-0.
Austin Peay at Tennessee: The Volunteers lean on their rushing attack to move the chains. Tennessee, 24-7.
THURSDAY, AUG. 29
North Carolina at South Carolina: Jadeveon Clowney will do Jadeveon Clowney things and single-handedly stall North Carolina's offense. Fact. South Carolina 24, North Carolina 10
Ole Miss at Vanderbilt: Vanderbilt's issues this offseason have been well documented. They take on the Rebels without several playmakers and with a quarterback who has never thrown an SEC pass, but the 'Dores will find a way around all that. Ole Miss' Bo Wallace will look rusty coming off shoulder surgery. James Franklin will have his squad ready to compete. Vanderbilt 35, Ole Miss 21
SATURDAY, AUG. 31
Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (Atlanta): This one is over before it even starts. T.J. Yeldon and Amari Cooper will begin what will be Heisman-worthy seasons with a bang. A.J. McCarron will perfectly helm the offense. The Tide's defense will smother. Alabama 51, VT 21
Louisiana-Lafayette at Arkansas: The Cajuns have a dynamic quarterback named Terrance Broadway. Louisiana-Lafayette returns most of a 9-4 team. They play with swag. The only swag from Arkansas during this game will likely come from their head coach on twitter after the final whistle. Louisiana-Lafayette 35, Arkansas 17
Washington State at Auburn: The Gus Malzahn era begins with a cupcake win against the laughing stock of the Pac-12. Malzahn’s no-huddle, complex offense will take some time to get going, but once it does it’s a force to reckon with. But it won’t be so bad Mike Leach may lock someone in a closet. Auburn 34, Washington State 10
Toledo at Florida: Seriously? Next game, please. Florida 64, Toledo 21
Georgia at Clemson: Mark Richt’s teams are notorious for slow starts. This game will be no exception. Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and company will continue to ride momentum from an eye-opening bowl win over LSU and again prove to be a legitimate threat in the college football landscape. Clemson 42, Georgia 35
Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky (Nashville): The Mark Stoops era and the Bobby Petrino era beginning across the sidelines should bode for an interesting game. The Hilltoppers downed the Wildcats last season. Both first-year coaches are trying to impress their new fan bases. I expect this one to come down to the wire and history to repeat itself. Western Kentucky 17, Kentucky 14
LSU vs. TCU (Arlington, Texas): LSU senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger will look polished. John Chavis’ defense will be stifling as always. This is a much better game on paper than when it actually unfolds. LSU 48, TCU 21
Miss. State vs. Oklahoma State (Houston): Both the Bulldogs and the Cowboys finished last season 8-5. On paper, it seems to be a good match up. Indeed I expect this one to start as a thriller, but the Cowboys ultimately find their groove and roll. They return top receiver Josh Stewart and have incredible depth as a team. Oklahoma State 42, Miss. State 21
Murray State at Missouri: I’m not even sure where Murray State is. Alaska? Dynamic playmakers James Franklin and Dorial Green-Beckham take this one over in a hurry. Mizzou rolls. Missouri 55, Murray State 21
Rice at Texas A&M:Texas is debuting a new and improved up-tempo offense. It will shine. Texas’ offense returns 10 of its 11 starters. This game is never close. Texas 48, Rice 10
Austin Peay at Tennessee: I expect the Vols to throttle Austin Peay. Arguably the nation’s best offensive line will create separation in the early goings and spring Tennessee two tailbacks to several big gains. However, I expect the passing game to struggle. Luckily for the Vols, it won’t be needed in this game. Also, I expect the whole “fist up defense” thing to fall flat on its face. Tennessee 50, Austin Peay 17