The most intriguing matchup may be the first one. Thursday night finds an improving Vanderbilt squad hosting a South Carolina team ranked in the preseason top 10 for the first time in program history.
Having proven themselves to be SEC experts last fall, our staffers are eager to share their projections again this season. Here are their picks for Week 1:
JOSH WOODWARD'S PICKS
South Carolina at Vanderbilt: Vandy is still Vandy and the Ole Ball Coach has a good team. 33-17 Cocks
Jacksonville State at Arkansas: Shouldn't be much of a game. 51-17
Central Arkansas at Ole Miss: This is one of the two games I see Ole Miss winning. 24-14
Jackson State at Miss. State: Miss. State is a good looking football team. They will have a really good defense. If they have any offense they could win 9 games. 31-14 Miss St
SE Louisiana at Missouri: Glad to see Missouri in the SEC, they have a good offense, but we all know that defense wins championships. 48-17 Missouri
DANNY PARKER'S PICKS
South Carolina at Vanderbilt: The 'Dores quickly find out that Marcus Lattimore is back and is the SEC's top runner. The new field turf gets anchored with VU defenders. South Carolina, 20-13
Tennessee vs. North Carolina State (Atlanta): The Vols run over 183 yards and refuse to miss their All-SEC wideout. Tennessee, 31-27
Alabama vs. Michigan (Arlington, Texas): The youthful back end of the Tide defense gets torched twice early but it's not enough. Alabama, 41-17
Jacksonville State at Arkansas: Tyler Wilson launches his Heisman campaign by beating up on the visitors. Arkansas, 42-3
Clemson vs. Auburn (Atlanta): No Sammy Watkins. No Guz Malzahn. Toughest call of the week. Clemson, 30-20
Bowling Green at Florida: "You're in!" "No coach, it's Jacoby's quarter." "Oh, yeah...you're right." Quarterback revolving isn't the best idea but the Clawfense can't do anything on the Gator front seven. Florida, 17-0
Central Arkansas at Ole Miss: A pair of Volunteer State natives lead the Rebel offense in one of their few victories in 2012. Ole Miss, 24-6
Jackson State at Miss. State: Six cowbells break but so does the Jackson State defense...several times. Mississippi State, 38-14
SE Louisiana at Missouri: The SEC chants get going with a quickness for the Tigers. Missouri, 52-9
CHRIS PRICE'S PICKS
South Carolina at Vanderbilt: It would be great for Tennessee if Vandy could pull this game off and put South Carolina a game down in the east, but let's be honest, your coach doing the worm in a meeting and ending up on top plays doesn't get you a win in the opener. Cocks 38-20.
Tennessee vs. North Carolina State (Atlanta): While the loss of Da' Rick Rogers makes me worry just a bit, I still think Tennessee gets the job done in the Georgia Dome. This team has shown great unity and still has two All-SEC type wideouts in Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson. Vols 31-21.
Alabama vs. Michigan (Arlington, Texas): Michigan would like to think that their storied program can stack up against the likes of this SEC big dog, but they just can't. Tide Rolls 35-10.
Jacksonville State at Arkansas: Even John L. Smith can't screw this one up. The Hogs will get it done, easy. 48-17.
Clemson vs. Auburn (Atlanta): If Sammy Watkins was playing in this game I would definitely go with Clemson, but he is not. War Eagle 27-20. P.S. This was a horribly scheduled game conflicting with Alabama and Michigan. How did ESPN and ABC, who are partners, not schedule this better for ratings.
Bowling Green at Florida: The Gators might be questionable on offense in 2012, but even they can put up enough on Bowling Green. Talk about a cupcake opener. Gators 31-3.
Buffalo at Georgia: Buffalo is actually a decent openers for the Dawgs, but still not enough to predict an upset. Don't you love the first week of games? Georgia 38-17.
North Texas at LSU: Another good one for the defending SEC West champions. LSU 35-9.
Central Arkansas at Ole Miss: ZzzzzZzzzzZzzzz. Who cares? Ole Miss 30-10.
Jackson State at Miss. State: Jackson State is one of those scrappy teams that can give people a scare, but State is ready for a big season. Mississippi State 24-7.
SE Louisiana at Missouri: Good way to ease into the toughest season that Mizzou has ever faced. Tigers 38-17.
Kentucky at Louisville: Ahhhh. This is just going to be one awful game to watch. Louisville 17-10.
RANDY MOORE'S PICKS
South Carolina at Vanderbilt: The Commodores will beat an upper-echelon SEC team one of these weeks. Not this team, not this week, though. Gamecocks, 27-17
Tennessee vs. North Carolina State (Atlanta): Maybe I'm taking Tennessee's players too seriously but I think the Vols are ready to put a really good game together. Vols, 34-17
Alabama vs. Michigan (Arlington, Texas): They play pretty good football in Ann Arbor. Pretty good football will earn you seventh place in the SEC. Tide, 27-13
Jacksonville State at Arkansas: John L. Smith is no Bobby Petrino but he doesn't have to be to look good in this game. Hogs, 34-14
Clemson vs. Auburn (Atlanta): What can I say? I'm an SEC homer. Auburn, 27-24
Bowling Green at Florida: Dave Clawson's 2008 Tennessee offense managed just 258 yards in a 30-6 loss to the Gators. His 2012 Bowling Green team won't do even that well. Florida, 31-0.
Buffalo at Georgia: As bad as Tennessee was last year it still beat Buffalo 41-10. Need I say more? Dawgs, 38-7
North Texas at LSU: Les Miles won't have to worry about late-game clock management in this one. Tigers, 49-7
Central Arkansas at Ole Miss: Hugh Freeze had better enjoy this game. Wins will be scarce for the Rebels this fall. Ole Miss, 28-14
Jackson State at Miss. State: Dan Mullen's Bulldogs are looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2011 season. This is a good way to start. Mississippi State, 28-10
SE Louisiana at Missouri: It looks like SEC newcomer Mizzou already has mastered the art of scheduling non-conference cream puffs. Missouri, 42-7
Kentucky at Louisville: Wow! People from Fulton to Pike will be tuning in to watch this one. Kentucky, 20-17