SEC Week 2 picks analysis: Debating LSU-Mississippi State and more

Will LSU beat Mississippi State? (2:06)

Trevor Matich explains how LSU can beat Mississippi State on Saturday. (2:06)

Evidently, Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker thinks people “blow gas up [the SEC’s] a-- all the time.” Clearly, Striker hasn’t seen our Week 2 game picks. All five SEC reporters picked the Sooners to beat Tennessee this Saturday. No smoke here.

The group didn’t agree on every game, though. So let's break down the ones we disagree on, plus put a couple of favorites on upset alert and make predictions for offensive and defensive players of the week.

LSU vs. Mississippi State

Why LSU wins: Don’t think this LSU team forgot what happened last year when Mississippi State went into Death Valley and dominated the Tigers for most of the game. This is their chance for revenge. And I’m not sold on the MSU defense this year, not after giving up 413 yards to Southern Miss in the opener. We haven’t seen LSU yet, but I think Brandon Harris, Leonard Fournette and this offense get off to a good start on the road. -- Greg Ostendorf

Why Mississippi State wins: The Bulldogs have two key things working in their favor -- they have the better quarterback (Dak Prescott) and they have home field advantage. Mississippi State didn't lose a game at Davis-Wade Stadium last year and when the cowbells are ringin' and the Bulldogs are rollin' it can be a challenging place to play. LSU has more talent on its roster than Mississippi State, but when the best player on the field is at the most important position, that counts for a lot. -- Sam Khan Jr.

South Carolina vs. Kentucky

Why South Carolina wins: I’ve been pretty clear that I’m not sold on this South Carolina team -- and last week did nothing to change that -- but the Gamecocks have “Sandstorm” on their side Saturday. They’re home and I think that pass rush takes advantage of a Kentucky team that gave up three sacks to UL Lafayette last week. Running backs Brandon Wilds, Shon Carson and David Williams will feats on a defense that surrendered 247 rushing yards last week. -- Edward Aschoff

Why Kentucky wins: The Wildcats won't go into Williams-Brice Stadium with any fear because they beat South Carolina a season ago. Offensively, Kentucky can put up points (they put 45 on South Carolina last year; they posted 33 in fewer than three quarters en route to their season-opening win over Louisiana-Lafayette). South Carolina's defense looks better than it was last year, but can they score enough? Their season opening offensive performance wasn't inspiring. -- Sam Khan Jr.

Upset alert

David Ching: I picked South Carolina to beat Kentucky 21-20, although I honestly have zero faith in that pick. I'm giving the Gamecocks the benefit of the doubt because they’re at home, but Kentucky is fully capable of exploiting a porous Gamecocks defense and heading back to Lexington with a win.

Alex Scarborough: Mother Nature did LSU no favors last weekend when lightning cancelled the season-opener. Without a tune-up, you have to wonder how Brandon Harris and the Tigers will respond to a cold open at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have issues of their own, but with Prescott at quarterback and LSU’s struggles to score points, watch out.

Offensive player of the week

Aschoff: I almost went with Robert Nkemdiche here, but I'm rolling with Fournette who will clear 100 rushing yards against Mississippi State halfway through the third quarter.

Ching: Chad Kelly. He got his feet wet in last week’s blowout win, and Kelly will take another step toward becoming Ole Miss’ full-time quarterback with a big performance against Fresno State.

Khan Jr.: \Prescott. He'll lead the Bulldogs to the upset win over LSU by doing damage with his arm and his legs.

Ostendorf: South Carolina WR Pharoh Cooper. He was hampered by cramps in the opener, but whether it’s catching passes or running the Wildcat, I think he has a big day against Kentucky.

Scarborough: With the Kentucky defense still in flux, I expect Cooper to have a big day for South Carolina.

Defensive player of the week

Aschoff: After starting off the season with two sacks over Arizona State, Texas A&M's Myles Garrett will back that up with another mult-sack performance against lowly Ball State.

Ching: Kendell Beckwith. If LSU’s defense is to slow down the Dak Attack, the Tigers’ star linebacker will play a key role in that effort by plugging the middle of the field.

Khan Jr.: Kentrell Brothers, Mizzou. The senior linebacker got off to a great start last week (16 tackles, three for loss) and more of the same can be expected as the Tigers take on Arkansas State.

Ostendorf: Beckwith didn’t start the Mississippi State game last year, and it hurt LSU. I think he’s the key to slowing down Prescott & Co. as the Tigers get revenge.

Scarborough: We’ve been hearing all offseason how Brooks Ellis is poised to be a breakout performer at linebacker for Arkansas, and this weekend against Toledo I think we’ll see why.