College football preview capsules for Saturday, Sept. 10th - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

College football preview capsules for Saturday, Sept. 10th

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South Carolina sets sights on 1st SEC title
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -
Mark Richt needs a win in the worst way.

Steve Spurrier is in no mood to help a rival coach.

No. 12 South Carolina (1-0) has its sights on a second straight trip to the Southeastern Conference championship game, and Spurrier's Gamecocks can take a giant step toward that goal with a win Saturday over Richt's Georgia Bulldogs.

Georgia (0-1) is coming off a 35-21 loss to No. 4 Boise State, which knocked the Bulldogs out of the Top 25 and turned up the heat on Richt even more. The coach who won a pair of SEC titles early in his career and led his team to a No. 2 finish in the national rankings just four years ago desperately needs a big victory to show his program is still relevant in the mighty SEC.

Cincinnati, Tennessee looking for quality win
Nothing will erase the frustration of how Cincinnati fared last season. A win over a storied Southeastern Conference program could go a long way toward proving the Bearcats are back on track to compete for a Big East title.

Cincinnati went from winning back-to-back league titles BCS bowl appearances to finishing 4-8 in 2010, Jones' first season at the helm.

The Volunteers could also use a win to be proud of. Once regular contenders for SEC championships, the Vols have gone through two coaching turnovers in the past three years and finished 6-7 last season.

Tennessee (1-0) may be a five-point favorite heading into Saturday's game, but the Bearcats (1-0) appear to be anything but a mismatched foe after posting an FBS-best 72 in their season opener against Austin Peay.

Marquee coaches Paterno, Saban set to square off
Two of college football's most successful and recognizable coaches meet Saturday when Nick Saban and third-ranked Alabama visit Joe Paterno and 23rd-ranked Penn State in Happy Valley.

Saban is a big fan of Paterno, having watched him coach at Penn State while Saban grew up in West Virginia.

Paterno is major college football's winningest coach with 402 victories over a record 46 seasons, while Saban has 130 over 16 seasons.

They're tied, though, when it comes to national championships, each with two.

Paterno earlier this week hoped to be on the sideline to greet Saban. Paterno said he feels better, though in pain at times as he recovers from injuries to his right shoulder and pelvis after getting accidentally leveled in practice on Aug. 7.

MSU-Auburn aiming for national credibility
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -
Mississippi State and Auburn would both love to gain some national credibility this weekend.

The 16th-ranked Bulldogs have climbed up the rankings but are still only 2-8 against SEC Western Division opponents under coach Dan Mullen entering Saturday's game. The Tigers fell out of the Top 25 after getting a surprising scare from Utah State, even though they have easily the longest current winning streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision at 16 games.

The Bulldogs bring powerful runners in Vick Ballard and quarterback Chris Relf and an offense coming off one of the most prolific games in program history. The Tigers' mostly new offensive and defensive lines were physically bullied at times by the Aggies.

Auburn coach Gene Chizik says getting more physical is this week's biggest priority.

No. 18 Florida opens playbook, looks for progress
No. 18 Florida is looking for improvement, even after a 38-point win in the season opener. It might help that the Gators plan to open up the playbook against UAB on Saturday.

New plays and formations on offense, maybe a few wrinkles on defense. Yet the Gators (1-0) would like to save some things for next week's Southeastern Conference opener against rival Tennessee.

Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis says it takes a couple of weeks before teams can "start zeroing in on what you're going to do." If the opener was any indication, Florida certainly plans to rely heavily on running backs Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey as well as a defensive line that appears to be stout.

UAB could have its hands full. The Blazers are 2-15 against SEC teams.

Georgia Tech sees threat from Middle Tennessee
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson hopes his Yellow Jackets won't be headed into a hornets' nest at Middle Tennessee State on Saturday.

The Sun Belt's Middle Tennessee narrowly missed pulling off a season-opening upset in a 27-24 loss at Purdue, and the Blue Raiders have been competitive recently against the Atlantic Coast Conference.

MTSU defeated Maryland in 2008 and 2009 and narrowly lost to Virginia in 2007. Last October, the Blue Raiders lost 42-14 at Georgia Tech but trailed 14-7 at halftime before their six turnovers sealed the outcome.

Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill said he senses confidence among his team, despite breaking in nine new starters on defense against Purdue. Stockstill says the Blue Raiders expect to beat Georgia Tech even if no one else thinks it will happen.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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