The first week of the SEC season has some real gems in it. You have a few quality nonconference opponents taking on SEC teams at neutral sites, and quite the opening SEC matchup in Nashville.
But which one is the best? Which one has you the most intrigued as we sit only a couple months away from the first weekend of the college football season?
Of course, you have Alabama's opener in Atlanta against Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. Alabama should be a pretty decent favorite in this game, but the Hokies do return nine starters on a defense that finished the year ranking 18th nationally in total defense. And those four returning defensive linemen could test Alabama's offensive line early. The matchup between Alabama's offense and Virginia Tech's defense should be fun, but can the Hokies move the ball against the Tide's defense? Could be really tough, even with Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas returning.
LSU travels to Arlington, Texas, to take on TCU in the Horned Frogs' backyard. LSU has to replace a lot on defense, and is taking on a TCU offense that returns nine starters, along with quarterback Casey Pachall. This could be a really fun game to watch, because the Tigers could showoff what they are hoping is a more explosive passing game. LSU always plays big in these nonconference games, and has had success in Jerry's World.
You can't forget about Georgia's trip to Clemson to take on the Tigers from that other conference. This game has the makings of a real shootout with the offenses that will be on the field and the fact that both defenses still have questions. And this game could have national-title implications. Plus, it's Aaron Murray vs. Tajh Boyd. Sammy Watkins vs. Malcolm Mitchell. First team to 40 wins?
South Carolina hosts North Carolina on Aug. 29 in a game that should receive a lot of attention. The Tar Heels return 14 starters and are looking to prove that they can once again be a legitimate threat nationally. It's also a chance to bring back what used to be a fun border rivalry. South Carolina gets to test out it's relatively new-look defense against one of the ACC's top quarterbacks in Bryn Renner. Oh, and it's a chance to see Jadeveon Clowney right off the bat. Can he get some more Heisman love on national television?
As for the lone conference game, you have Vanderbilt hosting Ole Miss on Aug. 29. This game means more now than it has in a while. There's more excitement around it because both teams are trending up in the SEC. Ole Miss hasn't beaten Vandy since 2009, and with the schedule the Rebels have, getting this win would be huge. Both teams also have nice firepower coming back on offense, which should make for good offense-defense matchups for both teams. This game could be another classic like last year's when the Dores stormed back in the fourth quarter to steal one in Oxford.