A look ahead to Thursday night's involving teams in the Amway Coaches Poll:
No. 20 Texas A&M at No. 9 South Carolina
Time/TV: 6 p.m. ET/SEC. Surface: Grass.
Line: South Carolina by 10½. Sagarin difference: South Carolina by 0.59.
Synopsis: Though neither of these programs was present when the Southeastern Conference came into being, they are nevertheless fitting choices to kick off the new network's football coverage. Both programs had to bid farewell to franchise-type players and will thus be entering new territory themselves. The Aggies must move on without Johnny Manziel. But his successor, redshirt sophomore QB Kenny Hill, will at least not have to line up opposite former Gamecocks' standout DE Jadeveon Clowney. Hill's most experienced pass catcher is WR Malcome Kennedy, though there will be plenty of young talent to bolster the outside spots.
The South Carolina defense for its part could rely more on second-level guys such as LB Sharrod Golightly to keep spread attacks at bay. Gamecocks' QB Dylan Thompson will be a full-time starter for the first time, but he's taken more live reps than many of his SEC counterparts. He has a proven commodity in TB Mike Davis to ease his transition. S Howard Matthews is back to lead an experienced A&M secondary, but that unit must show improvement.
No.19 Mississippi vs. Boise State in Atlanta
Time/TV: 8 p.m. ET/ESPN. Surface: Artificial.
Line: Ole Miss by 10½. Sagarin difference: Ole Miss by 1.42.
Synopsis: The SEC West is as competitive as ever, but Ole Miss followers are hopeful the Rebels are ready to play with the big boys. There is all-star talent on both sides of the ball. Senior Bo Wallace is the conference's most accomplished returning QB, and he has proven targets in WR Laquon Treadwell and TE Evan Engram. The defensive front features DT Robert Nkemdiche and LB Serderius Bryant, who figure to cause plenty of trouble in opposing backfields.
But Boise State is accustomed to punching above its weight. Though the Broncos will be under new management after Chris Petersen's departure to Washington, they won't be shy on the big stage. They might be outmanned by an SEC roster, but Bryan Harsin doesn't inherit an empty cupboard,. QB Grant Hedrick and TB Jay Ajayi provide a solid foundation in the backfield, but some deep balls must connect if they are to negotiate that Ole Miss front. The Broncos' defense will be anchored by LB Ben Weaver.
Other TV games (times p.m. ET)
Matchup (Time/TV), Surface, Line, Sagarin difference
Eastern Illinois at Minnesota (7, BTN), Artificial, NA, Minnesota by 14.45
Wake Forest at Louisiana-Monroe (7, ESPNU), Artificial, ULM by 1, ULM by 0.06
Tulane at Tulsa (8, CBSSN), Artificial, Tulsa by 6½, Tulsa by 1.97
Temple at Vanderbilt (9:15, SEC), Artificial, Vandy by 13½, Vandy by 17.61
Rutgers at Washington State (10, FS1), Artificial, WSU by 8, WSU by 11.07
Lines furnished by Glantz-Culver.
Jeff Sagarin's power ratings show the relative strength of teams. Where applicable, 3.12 points were added to the home team's rating to calculate the difference.
GALLERY: PRESEASON AMWAY COACHES POLL
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