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SEC football practice starts; opening games less than a month away

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Aaron Murray will lead Georgia into Death Valley against Clemson in a terrific ACC-SEC clash on Aug. 31 (Source: UGA Athletics) Aaron Murray will lead Georgia into Death Valley against Clemson in a terrific ACC-SEC clash on Aug. 31 (Source: UGA Athletics)
South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is a Heisman candidate. (Source: USC Athletics) South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is a Heisman candidate. (Source: USC Athletics)
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(RNN) - Southeastern Conference football practices start Thursday, Aug. 1, signaling that we are less than a month away from actual football games.

Alabama looks for its third straight national title and the SEC seeks its eighth straight BCS title.

Here are the days the SEC teams begin practice:

Aug. 1

Georgia, Mississippi State, Missouri, Vanderbilt

Aug. 2

Alabama, Auburn, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee

Aug. 3

Ole Miss

Aug. 5

Arkansas, Kentucky, LSU, Texas A&M

Several of the season-opening contests are unusually interesting for early season games. Check the batteries in your remote as early preparation for these goodies:

Ole Miss at Vanderbilt

The league's two resurgent programs collide on Day 1 of the new season, prime time on ESPN, Thursday, Aug. 29. Ole Miss finished the year with a hot hand and beat Pitt in a bowl game for a 7-6 record. Vanderbilt posted a 9-3 record - the most in a season since World War I - and beat up on N.C. State in its bowl game.

North Carolina vs. South Carolina

This is a huge game for USC, which is a national championship caliber team. Beat UNC's brains out and the nation turns anxious eyes to Spurrier, his supernatural defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and the developing Gamecock juggernaut.

Alabama vs. Virginia Tech

Alabama plays Virginia Tech in Atlanta's Chick-Fil-A preseason Bowl on Aug. 31. Virginia Tech's new offensive coordinator, Scot Loeffler, was last seen as his Auburn offense amassed 163 yards, seven first downs and zero points in a 49-0 rout at Alabama. Loeffler publicly blamed past and current AU coaches Gene Chizik and Gus Malzahn for recruiting bad players for him to work with. We'll see.

Washington State at Auburn

Fast-break football gurus Mike Leach of Washington State and Gus Malzahn pit their offenses against each other in Auburn. The over-under on the number of plays in this game is 200.

Georgia at Clemson

Georgia, which fell five yards short of destroying Notre Dame for the national championship instead of Alabama, opens at Clemson. The game showcases two great quarterbacks, Aaron Murray, the third-team QB in the SEC and a Heisman candidate, faces Tajh Boyd, the engine of the rapid-fire Clemson attack. The winner stays in the BCS hunt.

Kentucky at Western Kentucky

Two teams from Kentucky play in Nashville, TN, and it's interesting because motorcycle-crashing, affair-with-employee-having former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino is at Western now. Kentucky is rebuilding under new head coach Mark Stoops, who has a lot of work to do. Western beat Kentucky last year, contributing to the exit of the previous head coach, Joker Phillips.

LSU vs. TCU

We get to see how much juice LSU has left after losing all those players to the draft last year. TCU is pretty salty, and has the home field advantage, sort of, in the House that Jerry Built in Arlington, TX.

Mississippi State vs. Oklahoma State

A team from Mississippi and one from Oklahoma play in the Texas Kickoff Classic in Houston. It was just two years ago Oklahoma State missed the chance to get crushed by LSU in the BCS title game by losing to Iowa State in multiple OT. The Cowboys are a solid favorite, look for a high-scoring game.

 

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    Georgia can establish itself as a top-tier beast if it gets by South Carolina this weekend - and USC would drop to 0-2 in the league with a loss. Tennessee travels to Oklahoma, where Coach Bob Stoops doesn't believe the SEC is all-powerful.
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