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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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A fighter jet squadron flies over during the National Anthem before Texas A&M’s game against Arkansas at Olsen Field on Saturday, May 18, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
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Beekeeper Shelby Dittman scoops bees back into their hive during a visit on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
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Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Around the SEC – Week 2

Photo by Photo by Cameron Johnson

An SEC microphone in the hand of a sideline reporter during the Texas A&M Football vs. Sam Houston game on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022.

Week 1 of the SEC slate gave us a handful of matchups with Power 5 teams, and Week 2 is no different. From contests with West Coast counterparts, a meeting with a top Group of 5 team and a preview of conference realignment, this weekend has you covered.
No. 20 Ole Miss @ No. 24 Tulane
Saturday, Sept. 9 – Yulman Stadium – New Orleans
2:30 p.m. on ESPN2
Tulane put the college football world on notice last season with a 12-2 record and AAC Championship and Cotton Bowl victories to close out the year. The Green Wave picked up right where it left off to open the 2023 campaign, taking down Sun Belt Conference leader South Alabama. Junior quarterback Michael Pratt returns as one of the nation’s top signal-callers after passing for 294 yards and four touchdowns against the Jaguars.
While Tulane rounded out this past season sizzling hot, Ole Miss finished ice cold. After jumping to a 7-0 start, the Rebels lost five of their last six as they skidded to the finish. But if Ole Miss was trying to make a good first impression in Week 1, it succeeded with a 73-7 thrashing of Mercer. It didn’t matter that superstar sophomore running back Quinshon Judkins picked up just 60 yards, as junior quarterback Jaxson Dart tallied 334 yards and four scores through the air. Not to be forgotten, senior Spencer Sanders, a multi-year Oklahoma State starter, added 134 yards and two touchdowns.
Signs point to a pass-heavy performance at cozy Yulman Stadium, which could see a strong contingent of Ole Miss fans. Dart has proven he can get it done with his arm, but his speed paired with Judkins’ may prove to be the X-factor.
Prediction: Ole Miss 38, Tulane 28
No. 11 Texas @ No. 3 Alabama
Saturday, Sept. 9 – Bryant-Denny Stadium – Tuscaloosa, Alabama
6 p.m. on ESPN
Last season’s 20-19 slugfest in Austin likely left both teams feeling disappointed. Alabama, while escaping with the win, found itself in an unfamiliar situation as it entered the contest favored by multiple scores. When the Crimson Tide wins, it usually wins big. On the other hand, Texas defied expectations by coming close to a major upset. The Longhorns may argue that with a different call here or there, the conversation surrounding that game would be of an upset win, not a close loss.
This leads to a primetime matchup that offers fans a taste of what’s to come when Texas and Oklahoma ditch the Big 12 for the big boys in the SEC. The Crimson Tide and the Longhorns enter Saturday’s game looking to atone for last year. Redshirt sophomore and Katy native Jalen Milroe aims to join a long list of elite Alabama quarterbacks, with his dual-threat ability setting him apart from the pack. For the Longhorns, sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers takes the stage to prove his case for a first-round selection in the NFL Draft, this time without the mullet.
Texas got off to a shaky start in a 37-10 win over Rice, while Alabama displayed consistency with a 56-7 victory over Middle Tennessee State. Both teams are strong contenders for a College Football Playoff spot, meaning this matchup will give the winner a strong boost while putting the loser in a hole early on. Another close game can be expected, but Alabama coach Nick Saban gives the Tide the boost it needs.
Prediction: Alabama 35, Texas 28
Arizona @ Mississippi State
Saturday, Sept. 9 – Davis Wade Stadium – Starkville, Mississippi
6:30 p.m. on SEC Network
It wasn’t your older brother’s Mississippi State last weekend that defeated Southeastern Louisiana 48-7. Under first-year coach Zach Arnett, the Bulldogs have seemingly done away with the air-raid offense the team became known for under coach Mike Leach.
Senior running back Jo’quavious Marks picked up 127 yards on the ground with two scores, while senior quarterback Mike Wright needed just five carries to gain 95 yards. All told, Mississippi State tallied 298 yards rushing. That’ll take a load off of senior Will Rogers’ shoulders under center after serving as the workhorse of last season’s offense.
Speaking of last season, the Bulldogs came out on top in Tucson, Arizona, 39-17. Arizona coach Jedd Fisch is in his third year leading a program aiming for its first winning season since 2017, and the Wildcats got off on the right foot with a 38-3 win over Northern Arizona. Junior quarterback Jayden de Laura completed 18 of 24 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns, while the defense did its job by limiting the Lumberjacks to a mere 78 rushing yards. The Wildcats rarely struggled to score last season with an average of 30.8 points per game, but a defense that gave up 36.5 points held them back.
Saturday will offer a look into a Mississippi State offense different from years past and an Arizona defense looking for improvement under second-year defensive coordinator Johnny Nansen. Don’t be surprised if this is a high-scoring affair, but the Bulldogs’ more proven defense gives them the edge.
Prediction: Mississippi State 45, Arizona 31
Auburn @ California
Saturday, Sept. 9 – California Memorial Stadium – Berkeley, California
9:30 p.m. on ESPN
Props are due to a California team that this writer predicted would struggle in its opener against North Texas. Instead, the Golden Bears established themselves as having the superior color with a 58-21 win over the Mean Green on the road. Auburn won in a similarly dominant fashion as it took down UMass 59-14 in coach Hugh Freeze’s return to the SEC. If you’re a fan of quick games, this matchup may be the one for you, as both teams established their run games early on. California ran for 357 total yards against North Texas, while the Tigers tallied 289 rushing yards against the Minutemen.
As both programs aim to rebound from losing seasons, improvement on offense is key. The Golden Bears’ sophomore running back Jaydn Ott picked up 201 total yards and two scores last week and joins redshirt sophomore quarterback Ben Finley in his first season with the program. Auburn scored six touchdowns via the run game last week to complement junior quarterback and Michigan State transfer Payton Thorne. Thorne showcased his talent as he led the Spartans to an 11-2 finish in 2021, and the hope on the Plains is that he and Freeze can lead the Tigers back to national prominence.
While Auburn may be traveling two time zones back for this matchup, its experience against SEC competition gives it the advantage. It will be exciting to see both teams’ rushing attacks go at it, but the Tigers’ leadership at the quarterback position and coaching will lead them to victory.
Prediction: Auburn 45, California, 35

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