--Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips has named sophomore Maxwell Smith as the team’s starting quarterback. Smith played in eight games as a true freshman, starting in three of those contests. He completed 84-of-153 passes (54.9%) for 819 yards with a 4/4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Smith beat out senior Morgan Newton, who missed the spring with a shoulder injury. The Wildcats open the year on Sept. 2 at Louisville as 14-point underdogs.
--The QB situations at Auburn and Florida are still unresolved. It’s a two-man battle in Gainesville between fellow true sophomores Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett. Driskel has been held out of contact the last week due to an injury to his non-throwing shoulder. The injury isn’t serious but you would think it has probably given Brissett the slight edge for now. Both QBs were extremely ineffective when forced into action last year due to injuries to John Brantley. The Gators open Sept. 1 vs. Bowling Green as 29-point home favorites.
--Gene Chizik hasn’t made up his mind between junior Clint Moseley and sophomore Kiehl Frazier. Moseley got more playing time in 2011, connecting on 61.1 percent of his passes for 800 yards with a 5/3 TD-INT ratio. Frazier rushed for more than 300 yards and three TDs, but he completed just 5-of-12 passes for 34 yards without a score and two interceptions. Auburn will open against Clemson as three-point underdogs (minus-115 price on AU) at the Ga. Dome. Clemson star WR Sammy Watkins is suspended and will not dress in Atlanta.
--Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson completed 22-of-37 passes for 252 yards and three TDs at Saturday’s scrimmage. Cobi Hamilton, who is poised for a breakout campaign following the departures of Greg Childs, Joe Adams and Jarius Wright, caught 11 balls for 165 yards and a pair of TDs.
--South Carolina starting senior CB Akeem Auguste is out indefinitely (at least 4-5 weeks) with a torn muscle in his thigh suffered in Saturday’s scrimmage. Also, redshirt RB Shon Carson has sustained another injury that could be a season-ender. Fortunately for the Gamecocks, they have Marcus Lattimore back at 100 percent along with Kenny Miles and Brandon Wilds, both of whom performed extremely well in Lattimore’s absence last season. The ‘Cocks are currently seven-point favorites for next Thursday’s game at Vanderbilt.
--After playing QB last season and WR in the spring, Ole Miss senior Randall Mackey has settled at the running back position behind Jeff Scott. Mackey has plenty of speed and playmaking ability for new head coach Hugh Freeze.
--Don’t be surprised if Alabama freshman RB T.J. Yeldon gets touches galore in the season opener vs. Michigan at Cowboys Stadium. The Crimson Tide is favored by 12 ½ against the Wolverines. The total is 42 ½ at a few offshore books and I like it to go ‘over’ if that total remains in the low 40s.
--Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has named redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel as his starting QB for the squad’s opener next Thursday against La. Tech in Shreveport. The Aggies are 7 ½-point favorites against the Bulldogs.
--Tennessee is struggling with injuries at the TE position. Senior starter Mychal Rivera, who had 29 receptions for 344 yards and one TD last year, has missed most of camp with a knee injury. The injury is not considered serious and he’s ‘probable’ to start next Friday at the Ga. Dome vs. N.C. St. However, his back-up Cameron Clear has been dismissed from the team and Brendan Down is most likely out for the year (knee). The Vols are four-point favorites vs. the Wolfpack.
--UF also has issues at tight end. Rising sophomore A.C. Leonard left the program about a month ago and then Colin Thompson went down with a foot injury earlier this week. Thompson is expected to have surgery Wednesday and miss at least eight weeks. Jordan Reed is the starter but has been hobbled this week with a twisted knee.
--The nation’s No. 1 prep recruit in the 2012 class, Missouri WR Dorial Green-Beckham, continues to turn heads in Columbia. Also, James Franklin’s surgically-repaired shoulder has looked just fine. On the flip side, the Tigers are struggling with injuries on the offensive line. Nevertheless, they have a great chance at shaking up the SEC East race in their league debut against Georgia on Sept. 8 due to a number of issues in Athens. (see below)
--Georgia is going to be without four suspended starters on defense for its opener against Buffalo and its Week 2 trip to Missouri. All-American safety Baccari Rambo is suspended for four games, while LB Alec Ogletree, LB Chase Vasser and CB Sanders Commings will miss UGA’s first two contests. The trio of Ogletree, Rambo and Commings combined for more than 160 tackles, four sacks, 8 ½ tackles for losses, 22 passes broken up, nine interceptions and eight QB hurries last year. Also, 2011 leading rusher Isaiah Crowell has been dismissed from the team and starting OT Kolston Houston remains in NCAA limbo.
--Sportsbook.ag is currently showing Alabama and LSU with 5/1 and 6/1 odds, respectively, to win the BCS Championship Game. LSU was at plus-350 or 4/1 at most spots before the dismissal of Tyrann Mathieu. Not only has LSU's future odds been adjusted, but it has also seen its numbers change for Games of the Year. For instance, the Tigers are now just three-point favorites at Florida and two-point 'chalk' at Arkansas.
--Sportsbook.ag is currently showing these future numbers to win the SEC:
Alabama +160 (risk $100 to win $160)
Florida +600 (6/1)
South Carolina 12/1
Texas A&M 75/1
Mississippi St. 75/1
Ole Miss 100/1
Brian Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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