Leave it to the SEC to be in the middle of all the big college football stories on opening weekend – from teams that play to those that don’t.
There’s a prime-time matchup on Thursday with South Carolina visiting Vanderbilt. And Texas A is involved in the season’s first weather postponement because of Hurricane Isaac.
The challenge for the Aggies — slated to make their SEC competitive debut against Louisiana Tech — is to recharge after learning just before practice Tuesday that Thursday’s game in Shreveport, La., would be postponed until Oct. 13.
Louisiana Tech officials made the decision with concern for the safety of athletes and fans.
“You build emotionally to play a game, and get within 24 hours of leaving, it’s a little bit of a letdown,” Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said.
The disappointment was evident in Tuesday’s workout, Sumlin said, but he expected that game film of what is now A’s opening opponent — Florida — would invigorate the guys.
“When we turn on the game film of Florida, they’ll be excited,” Sumlin said.
Vandy coach James Franklin hopes the Commodores aren’t blinded by the glare of national focus, and the Gamecocks, considered a strong contender in the East Division, can’t stumble against a motivated underdog.
South Carolina-Vanderbilt shares the marquee matchup with Washington State at Brigham Young among the 15 games involving Division I programs on Thursday.
Franklin knows it will be difficult to sell this occasion as another regular-season game. “I’m not going to act like playing in this game, with this platform and capitalizing on this moment, isn’t important,” Franklin said. “But I’m careful with my team, even though we haven’t played in a lot of games like this, to take the same approach every week.”
Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier chuckled at the idea that opening with a conference game is a disadvantage because he’d have to expose more of his playbook.
“We throw everything we can into every week and try to win the game,” Spurrier said. “Sometimes you’re fortunate enough to be ahead in games and don’t need to use a trick or special play. But we bring all we got to the game.”NOTING THE SEC
Sure sign of an impending hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico? Schedule North Texas to visit LSU. Coach Les Miles’ debut game with the Tigers in 2005 against North Texas was postponed because of Hurricane Katrina. The latest storm, Isaac, forced the cancellation of Wednesday’s practice, and Miles was uncertain about the rest of the week. LSU players have been advised to remain in their housing because of the buildings’ safety.TWO QUOTES
“It’s been a little more peaceful around here this year.”
— South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, who with an unequivocal starter in Connor Shaw, isn’t presiding over a preseason quarterback battle.
“Being a head coach for the first time, you had to look at things from 1,000 feet instead of through a straw.”
— Alabama coach Nick Saban, reminiscing about his first head coaching job, at Toledo in 1990, after spending the previous eight years as a college coordinator or NFL assistant.RANKING THE SEC
1. Alabama-Michigan (Cowboys Stadium): Denard Robinson vs. new defense
2. LSU-North Texas: Life without Honey Badger
3. Georgia-Buffalo: Eye on Mizzou
4. Arkansas-Jacksonville St.: Knile Davis says he’s ready
5. South Carolina at Vanderbilt (Thursday): So does Lattimore
6. Florida-Bowling Green: Dueling QBs for one half
7. Auburn-Clemson (Atlanta): Clemson W was a big boost in ‘11
8. Missouri-Southeastern Louisiana: Debuts for Green-Beckham, Boehm
9. Mississippi St.-Jackson State: Second meeting between programs
10. Tennessee-N.C. State (Friday, Atlanta): Vols look to show improvement
11. Vanderbilt-South Carolina (Thursday): Improved OL meets top DL
12. Texas A Now the debut is Florida
13. Kentucky at Louisville (Sunday): Cards are Big East favorite
14. Mississippi-Central Arkansas: Hugh Freeze era begins