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September 6, 2007

SEC football preview-week two

ATLANTA - Virginia Tech did what it had to do to be successful in last week's season-opening emotional victory over East Carolina.

After a pregame ceremony to remember last April's campus slaughter that claimed 32 lives, the Hokies struggled more than expected to subdue East Carolina 17-7.

This week's assignment will find the Hokies facing one of the nation's top teams No. 2 LSU, which opened its season with a 45-0 thrashing of Mississippi State.

Defense may be the key to this game with the ninth-ranked Hokies, the favorite to win the Atlantic Coast Conference race this fall. LSU is favored in the Southeastern Conference.

``These guys are not only good, they do a lot of stuff with blitzes,'' Tech coach Frank Beamer said. ``We'll be challenged, that's for sure, because they're all over the place.''

Tackle Duane Brown, a senior, said he thinks this game will be the biggest challenge he's had.

``Their whole front seven played last year,'' he said. ``They're deep. They keep rotating guys and keeping them fresh.''

The game involves two of the nation's top defensive units. The edge may come from which team has the superior offense, and that appears to be LSU, a 12.5-point favorite. LSU 17-3.

Elsewhere around the SEC this week, with No. 18 Arkansas enjoying an open date:

Alabama (minus 3.5) at Vanderbilt: The Crimson Tide has won the last 19 meetings, although they had to forfeit their 1993 triumph. Receiver Earl Bennett will be a load for the Tide. He had 13 catches for 223 yards and 3 touchdowns last week against Richmond, and returned a punt 62 yards. Alabama 21-17.

South Florida (plus 7) at No. 17 Auburn: The Bulls didn't show much in disposing of Elon last week, but Tommy Tuberville knows his Tigers will have their hands full with the Big East team led by versatile QBs Matt Grothe. Auburn 17-14.

Troy (plus 26.5) at No. 4 Florida: After losing at Arkansas, Trojans taking on an even tougher SEC foe. Florida has won 8 in a row overall and 16 in a row at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Tim Tebow Co. keep both streaks alive. Florida 49-17.

South Carolina (plus 4.5) at No. 11 Georgia: The Bulldogs have a chance to beat a Steve Spurrier-coached team for the third year in a row. They will. Georgia 21-10.

Kent State (plus 12.5) at Kentucky: If Wildcats are looking ahead to Louisville game next week, the Golden Flashes will be able to post their second straight upset, having downed Iowa State 23-14 last week. Andre Woodson will make sure the 'Cats take care of business. Kentucky 27-10.

Missouri (minus 6) at Mississippi: Rebs face a tough assignment containing Chase Daniels, who threw for 359 yards and three touchdowns in Missouri's opening 30-34 victory over Illinois. He also led the Tigers to an easy victory over Ole Miss last year. Make it 2-0 for Daniels. Missouri 21-14.

Mississippi State (minus 6) at Tulane: Bob Toledo, beginning his Tulane coaching career, expects to see a fired-up foe in Mississippi State, which lost at home to the Green Wave last year. ``I believe they'll have a little chip on their shoulder,'' Toledo said. Make that a big chip. Mississippi State 21-7.

Southern Mississippi (plus 11) at No. 24 Tennessee: Erik Ainge, broken pinky and all, will get the Vols heading in the right direction after last week's drubbing at the hands of Cal. Tennessee 28-14.

Last week's totals: 11-0 straight, 3-4 vs. spread.



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