SEC football week 2: Tennessee vs. Virginia among highlights
Published 8:56 am Thursday, September 8, 2016
Here are some things to watch in the Southeastern Conference during the second week of the season:
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 17 Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway: More than 150,000 fans are expected to gather at a speedway that has been transformed into a football stadium for this long-awaited matchup. That crowd would shatter the NCAA single-game attendance record of 115,109, set at Michigan Stadium for Michigan’s 2013 victory over Notre Dame. Tennessee tumbled eight spots in the Top 25 after rallying for a 20-13 overtime triumph over Appalachian State, while Virginia Tech beat Football Championship Subdivision program Liberty 36-13 in its first game under new coach Justin Fuente.
MATCHUP OF THE WEEK: Arkansas offensive line vs. No. 15 TCU defensive line: Arkansas won’t have a chance of winning at TCU unless it gets plenty of improvement from an offensive line that lost three starters from last season. Arkansas allowed four sacks and averaged just 2.7 yards per carry in a 21-20 victory over Louisiana Tech. A line led by left tackle Dan Skipper faces a major challenge against a TCU defensive front featuring ends Josh Carraway and James McFarland.
NUMBERS GAME: The SEC went 6-6 in nonconference games in the opening week of the season. The league had gone 313-53 in regular-season nonconference games from 2009-15 for an .855 winning percentage. … Georgia’s Nick Chubb ran for 222 yards against North Carolina last week and now has three career 200-yard performances. The only Georgia running back with more 200-yard games was Herschel Walker with nine. … Florida has beaten Kentucky 29 straight times, which represents the longest active winning streak over a major opponent in an uninterrupted series. The longest such streak ever is owned by Notre Dame, which beat Navy 43 straight years from 1964-2006. … Although former Southwest Conference rivals Arkansas and TCU have faced each other 68 times, Saturday marks their first meeting since 1991.
LONG SHOT: Florida is a 17-point favorite over Kentucky, which is a lot of points considering how pedestrian the Gators’ offense looked in last week’s win over UMass. Mississippi State is a 6½-point favorite over South Carolina even though the Bulldogs lost to South Alabama last week. Vanderbilt’s a 5 ½-point favorite over a solid Middle Tennessee team despite scoring just 10 points in its season-opening loss to South Carolina.
IMPACT PLAYER: Alabama QB Jalen Hurts: One of the big questions for Alabama was who would emerge as the guy to replace Jake Coker. The Tide may have found that guy last week after Hurts — a freshman — threw two touchdown passes and ran for two more scores in a 52-6 wipeout of Southern California.
AP Sports Writers Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tennessee, and David Brandt in Jackson, Mississippi, contributed to this story.