The Lowe Down on Week One: SEC starts fast

Matt Lowe

September 04, 2015 at 4:31 pm.

The Jeremy Johnson era at Auburn is about to begin. (Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports)

The Jeremy Johnson era at Auburn is about to begin. (Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports)

Welcome to Week One of The Lowe Down.

Watch me whip, watch me nae nae. Watch me whip, watch me nae nae.

Nah (shaking my head), I’m not being serious. But, I have to admit that song has been lodged in my head for nearly a week after seeing an America’s Got Talent commercial while I was watching the Raiders/Cardinals preseason game — and I find myself randomly singing it every other hour now! Please make it stop!

Anyway. Enough of that. Let’s talk a little football shall we?

College football’s opening weekend is always a ton of fun. Months of preparation by players and coaches is finally put to the test. Alumni and fans travel all over this great country of ours to support their favorite schools. And every team in the Football Bowl Subdivision is still in the mix for the national championship (wink, wink — let’s be real folks, we know there’s only a certain number of teams that can actually win one).

With that said, it’s important for teams to get off to a good start. But, an early-season loss isn’t necessarily a season-wrecker for big-time programs like Alabama, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Auburn, UCLA, Notre Dame etc. In fact, the national champion Buckeyes lost in Week Two of last season and then steamrolled everything in their path on the way to a national title.

You truly never know the character of a team until the pads start poppin’ and adversity gets involved. Watch to see how your guys handle a penalty, a dropped pass, a missed opportunity or a negative play — and see how they respond. Good players/teams have to get over mistakes, learn from it and move on. And if they’re being coached up, they will. And by doing that, they will be aiding in the overall productivity of the team.

This week I picked just a few games to chat about. You will see a more extended version next week after I get a chance to see teams in action. Good luck to your squad this season and thanks for reading! To the games we go…

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattLowe777

Friday, Sep. 4

No. 4 Baylor at SMU 7:00 p.m. ET

The Bears, one of the nation’s fastest teams, return 18 starters from a squad that went 11-2 a season ago and barely missed out on the first-ever College Football Playoff. Starting defensive end Shawn Oakman, a 6-9, 280-pound giant, and starting free safety Orion Stewart will not play due to a violation of team rules. Those losses would be a punch to the gut for Baylor if it were taking on a tough opponent, but SMU is rebuilding under new head coach Chad Morris and this one could get ugly fast.

The Lowe Down: Baylor 61, SMU 14

No. 5 Michigan State at Western Michigan 7:00 p.m. ET

The Broncos return a wealth of experience from a team that went 8-5 a season ago, but they’ll have their hands full here. Yes, quarterback Zach Terrell can throw it and tailback Jarvion Franklin is a dynamite runner, but I’m not sure the Broncos defense, which wasn’t bad last year, will be able to slow down Coonor Cook and Michigan State’s high-powered offense. Spartans pull away late.

The Lowe Down: Michigan State 48, Western Michigan 24

In other Friday games:

Washington 23, No. 23 Boise State 30

Saturday, Sept. 5

Louisville vs. No. 6 Auburn 3:30 p.m. ET (Atlanta, Georgia)

Auburn fans everywhere are excited to see what uber-talented QB Jeremy Johnson can do playing a full season in Gus Malzahn’s high-powered offense. Johnson has weapons galore at his disposal, and he told me this spring that squaring off against Will Muschamp’s defense was helping him become a better player. On Saturday, Johnson will need that added training when he lines up against a salty Louisville front seven. End/tackle Sheldon Rankins is one of the top players in America, and linebackers James Burgess, Davonte Fields — formerly of TCU — and Keith Kelsey are grizzled vets that can play as well. Problem areas for the Cardinals are along the offensive front and in the secondary, which gives the Tigers a significant advantage in this game.

The Lowe Down: Auburn 36, Louisville 24

No. 15 Arizona State vs. Texas A&M 7:00 p.m. ET (Houston, Texas)

There probably won’t be a shortage of points when these two hook up in NRG Stadium, but the Sun Devils don’t have a player the caliber of Myles Garrett, a 6-5 pass-rushing terror, on their defense and that will be the difference here. Garrett is a game-changer for the Aggies and he will line up often in front of Evan Goodman, ASU’s new left tackle, which could be a big mismatch. Aggies impress again in college football’s opening weekend.

The Lowe Down: Texas A&M 37, Arizona State 27

No. 3 Alabama vs No. 20 Wisconsin 8:00 p.m. ET Arlington, Texas (Jerry World)

Your guess is as good as mine who will be the starting QB for Bama once the Tide takes the field against a dangerous Wisconsin team. Will it be Jake Coker? Or Alec Morris? Or athletic dual-threat Cooper Bateman? I tend to think it will be either Coker or Morris, but Bateman gives the team an added dimension with his ability to run. There’s a value in that. Ultimately we will find out Saturday night who the signal-caller will be, but look for two of the aforementioned guys to get reps. Also, look for the Badgers to give Nick Saban’s bunch a run for their money. Wisconsin is young along the offensive line and at tight end, but it has a veteran QB, a good running back and it returns six starters to a defensive unit that ranked fourth in the country in total D. Outside linebacker Vince Biegel and safety Michael Caputo are standouts, as are veteran cornerbacks Sojourn Shelton and Darius Hillary.

The Lowe Down: Alabama 27, Wisconsin 17

UPSET ALERT: Georgia Southern may not beat West Virginia, but look for the Eagles to scare the daylights out of the Mountaineers.

In other Saturday games:

Louisiana-Monroe 13, No. 9 Georgia 55

No. 21 Stanford 23, Northwestern 17

UTEP 14, Arkansas 45


Virginia 17, No. 13 UCLA 34

Sam Houston State 27, Texas Tech 37

BYU 31, Nebraska 34

Bowling Green 13, No. 21 Tennessee 48

Akron 10, No. 19 Oklahoma 58

Texas 20, No. 11 Notre Dame 30

Arkansas State 17, No. 8  USC 48