The new kids in the Southeastern Conference have no intention of being pushed around.
Missouri and Texas A&M host their first SEC games Saturday. The Tigers get No. 7 Georgia and the Aggies welcome No. 24 Florida.
At this point both teams are probably tired of being asked about adjusting to their new conference, as if they were playing flag football in the Big 12.
For the most part the Tigers and Aggies have played it respectfully, giving the SEC proper credit for being the toughest league in the land, while making it clear they’re not about to be intimidated by their new neighbors.
Missouri defensive end Sheldon Richardson went off message earlier this week when asked if he watched Georgia beat Buffalo 45-23 last Saturday.
“I watched that game. I turned it off, too,” Richardson said. “It’s like watching Big Ten football. It’s old-man football.”
Big Ten football! In the Deep South, those are fighting words.
For good measure, Richardson added: “If we execute, nobody in this league can touch us. Period.”
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, of course, tried to douse the flames Wednesday.
“First of all, what Sheldon did was wrong and irresponsible,” Pinkel said. “That doesn’t happen around here. He got caught up in the moment, he made a mistake, we handled that internally. We don’t do that here at Missouri.”
And Georgia coach Mark Richt had some fun with it: “Being over 50, and I’m getting AARP stuff in the mail, I took it as a compliment.”
There have been no such sparks flying out of College Station, Texas. The Aggies’ scheduled opener against Louisiana Tech was postponed by Hurricane Isaac, so this will be A&M’s first game under new coach Kevin Sumlin.
The Gators hope they got the kinks worked out, and there were plenty, in a 27-14 victory against Bowling Green.
While the Aggies have refrained from trash talking, somebody out there was trying to cause trouble this week.
On Tuesday a billboard popped up in Gainesville, Fla., that had this message for the locals:
“Howdy Gainesville: You’ve been annexed by Aggie Nation The Best Academics & Cleanest Program in the SEC. WHOOP! Real Football. Real Tradition.”
The school immediately distanced itself from the sign, saying it had nothing to do with it and was “investigating” to find out who did.
It was down by the end of the day, and whether or not it was placed by overconfident Aggies fans or maybe fans of one of Texas A&M’s old Big 12 rivals, it made for some fun Twitter fodder.
None of it matters on Saturday.
• Western Kentucky (plus 40) at No. 1 Alabama — WKU’s Willie Taggart called ’Bama NFL expansion franchise ... ALABAMA 45-7.
• No. 2 Southern California (minus 26) vs. Syracuse at East Rutherford, N.J. — First of two trips to New York area this season for Matt Barkley? ... USC 43-14.
• Washington (plus 23½) at No. 3 LSU — Tigers’ 18 straight home wins is one short of school record ... LSU 34-17.
• Fresno State (plus 34) at No. 4 Oregon — Ducks had 50 before halftime last week ... OREGON 49-14.
• Florida A&M (no line) at No. 5 Oklahoma — Sooners victory against UTEP was not much to celebrate ... OKLAHOMA 55-10.
• Savannah State (no line) at No. 6 Florida State — First Oklahoma State, now this? What’s next for Savannah State? The Patriots? ... FLORIDA STATE 70-0.
• No. 7 Georgia (minus 2½) at Missouri — Suspensions leave holes in Bulldogs D, but still tough to block ... GEORGIA 24-20.
• Louisiana-Monroe (plus 30½) vs. No. 8 Arkansas at Little Rock — Hogs try to sharpen D before Tide comes to town ... ARKANSAS 48-17.
• East Carolina (plus 22) at No. 9 South Carolina — Gamecocks QB Connor Shaw (shoulder) game-time decision ... S.CAROLINA 38-10.
• No. 11 Michigan State (minus 21½) at Central Michigan — Le’Veon Bell had 50 touches vs. Boise State; this should require fewer ... MICHIGAN STATE 37-10.
• Ball State (plus 27) at No. 12 Clemson — One more game without WR Sammy Watkins for Tigers ... CLEMSON 56-21.
• No. 13 Wisconsin (minus 8) at Oregon State — Badgers bumbled through opener ... WISCONSIN 31-17.
• UCF (minus 18) at No. 14 Ohio State — No bowl scouts necessary ... OHIO STATE 28-14.
• Austin Peay (no line) at No. 15 Virginia Tech — Hokies play FCS foe on short week ... VIRGINIA TECH 45-13.
• No. 16 Nebraska (minus 5) at UCLA — Huskers likely to be without RB Rex Burkhead ... NEBRASKA 34-28.
• New Mexico (plus 38) at No. 17 Texas — Longhorns lean on strong running game ... TEXAS 48-7.
• No. 18 Oklahoma State (minus 10) at Arizona — Cowboys and freshman QB Wes Lunt hit road ... ARIZONA 38-34.
• Air Force (plus 21) at No. 19 Michigan — Preparing for Falcons’ option no picnic ... MICHIGAN 37-24.
• Grambling (no line) at No. 20 TCU — Horned Frogs only ranked team not to play last week ... TCU 52-10.
• Miami (plus 7) at No. 21 Kansas State — Wildcats won thriller in south Florida last season ... MIAMI 28-24.
• Purdue (plus 14½) at No. 22 Notre Dame — Irish have won four straight, six of seven in series ... NOTRE DAME 30-14.
• Missouri State (no line) at No. 23 Louisville — Cardinals’ Teddy Bridgewater was 19 for 21 against Kentucky ... LOUISVILLE 42-17.
• No. 24 Florida (plus 1) at Texas A&M — No matter result, Aggies happy to be away from Longhorns ... FLORIDA 20-17.
• Duke (plus 15) at No. 25 Stanford — The Cardinal nearly stumbled in first game post-Luck ... STANFORD 34-14.
Last week’s record: 21-1 (straight); 9-8 (vs. points)
Best bets: 0-1.
Upset specials: 0-1.