As the resident ACC and SEC guy here with the Pre-Game Warm-Up I feel it is my duty to inform the masses about the best storylines to follow each week in southern football. This is a thin week for the ACC as most of the teams take on programs that they should beat. The first league contest of Duke-Wake Forest is upon us but there won’t be many folks clamoring for a post game report from BB&T Field.
While the league is lacking in depth you do get two of the top five national storylines coming straight out of the sunshine state of Florida. Both are stories of redemption, tales of teams rebuilding from their glory days of just a decade ago.
For the Seminoles we’ve got Christian Ponder and one of the most high powered offenses in the nation traveling out to Norman, Oklahoma to take on the Sooners. This game takes the redemption angle as Jimbo Fisher attempts to return the ‘Noles to prominence. Oklahoma’s defense will be in for a struggle coming off of a disappointing outing against Utah State this FSU offensive line is smallish but they’re experienced and under coach Rick Trickett they’re as mean as they come.
An added wrinkle to the FSU game will be the Stoops brothers doing battle for the first time. Bob Stoops is the general controlling the Sooners squad while younger brother Mark Stoops is a colonel for Jimbo Fisher controlling the defense. Mark worked for Bob, he knows a lot of about his older brother’s ways so expect him to have fed Fisher plenty of info into the Sooners’ defensive looks. Expect to see new, exotic blitzes and coverage schemes from the Oklahoma side as they try to confuse a defense that, by and large will mirror the schemes they’ve faced in practice.
The second major storyline is the Hurricanes trip to the Horshoe at Ohio State for a match up of top 12 opponents. Jim Tressel’s Buckeye’s enter at the #2 squad in the nation and they look the part from top to bottom with talent and experience across the board. We’ll get a look at guys like Cameron Heyward and Terrelle Pryor who are among the elite talents in the nation. On the Miami side there’s talent as well with Allen Bailey and a receiving core that, outside of Arkansas, might be the best collection of pass catchers in the nation.
Do not bring up the 2003 Fiesta Bowl BCS Championship game as these players were 11-14 years old sitting in elementary and middle school classrooms, largely not fans of either team, possibly not even watching the game at that point. Instead of hearkening back to a bad call look forward to the match up of an established power in Ohio State against a one time college football juggernaut trying to claw their way back to glory.
When we look to the SEC the storylines, like the passion, comes by the boatloads. Here’s a quick run down of the most intriguing storylines heading into this week’s games.
Auburn against Mississippi State makes the cut, not so much because of the status as the first SEC West contest but rather because of the Dan Mullen and Cam Newton angle. Mullen in the second year coach at Mississippi State, the same man that orchestrated the offense for both of Florida’s most recent national titles. Newton is the former heir apparent to Tim Tebow handpicked by Mullen to replace the Gator legend. Both will meet in an SEC contest but without a single tie to Gainesville, the Swamp or the orange and blue.
Florida taking on a South Florida squad full of guys that couldn’t get recruited or get into UF would never be a story ordinarily but this week this storyline gets a nod due to some of tidbits involved. The Gators are a supremely talented squad that has looked stagnant on offense for over a season since the departure of Dan Mullen. Steve Addazio has had his issues in play calling and with guys like Aaron Hernandez, Riley Cooper and Tim Tebow gone it appears that Addazio’s offensive prowess has taken another step backwards as they flailed against Miami of Ohio. An angry USF team dismantled Florida State in Tallahassee a season ago and the scrappy bully comes into the Swamp wanting to show another Florida team they’re ready to play. Quarterback BJ Daniels and new head coach Skip Holtz will wear the underdog crown well as they look to add a second Florida pelt to their belt.
The Bama-Penn State storyline should be about to historical powers battling it out. Classi uniforms. Old school coach running a new school offense in Joe Pa. New school coach running an old school offense in Nick Saban. Instead we’ve got a freshman quarterback for the Nittany Lions, an inexperienced secondary for the Tide and two of the games’ biggest stars; Marcell Dareus and Mark Ingram, both from Bama, suspended for this contest. Bama should still roll late in this game but early expect to get well acquainted with both Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy, the Tides new running back combo with Ingram out.
Finally, the storyline that everyone has got their eyes on is the Georgia-South Carolina game. The line on this game has moved considerably since the publicizing that the Dawgs stand out wideout AJ Green will be suspended for this contest and two others. Sadly this news takes the storyline off the match up of the Gamecocks and the Dawgs and puts Green and his jersey selling in the middle of the bullseye. The complexion of the game changes as the receiver edge goes from Georgia to the Gamecocks duo of Alshon Jeffrey and Tori Gurley. Garcia is a junior, squaring off against Aaron Murray the freshman and this will be a noon game to definitely watch. I can speak from experience, noon time in Columbia is the hottest place that I’ve ever been in my life.
Written by Michael Felder @InTheBleachers on Twitter

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