Things to watch during the Southeastern Conference's opening weekend:
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 15 Arizona State vs. Texas A&M at Houston: Alabama-Wisconsin and Louisville-Auburn also are appealing matchups, but Arizona State-Texas A&M carries the most intrigue. It's a relatively rare matchup between the SEC and the Pac-12, regarded as the nation's strongest conferences. This game also features promising quarterbacks in Arizona State's Mike Bercovici and Texas A&M's Kyle Allen. Arizona State will be seeking its first win over an SEC opponent in seven attempts.
MATCHUP OF THE WEEK: Wisconsin running back Corey Clement vs. Alabama run defense: Melvin Gordon has moved on to the NFL after capping a spectacular college career by running over Auburn in the Outback Bowl, but Wisconsin churns out star running backs with assembly-line precision. Next up is Corey Clement, who rushed for 949 yards and nine touchdowns last season. Clement has averaged 7 yards per carry in his career but could have trouble finding that much running room against Alabama, which has allowed only 15 individuals to run for 100 yards or more since 2005.
NUMBERS GAME: Five of the seven teams in the SEC West Division are ranked in the Top 25: No. 3 Alabama, No. 6 Auburn, No. 14 LSU, No. 17 Ole Miss and No. 18 Arkansas. The only West Division members not in the Top 25 — Mississippi State and Texas A&M — received the most votes of any unranked teams. ... Since 2006, the SEC has a 442-98 (.819) record in non-conference games (including regular-season contests and bowls) to lead all conferences.
LONG SHOT: Kentucky is a 17-point favorite over Louisiana-Lafayette, which is coming off its fourth-consecutive 9-4 season. The Ragin' Cajuns have consistently been one of the Sun Belt's best teams but must replace three-year starter Terrance Broadway at quarterback. ... Auburn is a 10 ½-point favorite over Louisville, which seems reasonable, but there's always the chance that Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino has a few surprises waiting for the Tigers.
IMPACT PERFORMER: A lot of eyes will be on Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson, who has received quite a bit of hype despite being relatively inexperienced. He did well in limited time last season, completing 28 of 37 passes for 436 yards and three touchdowns. He'll have a tough test on Saturday against Louisville.
AP Sports Writers Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tennessee, and David Brandt in Jackson, Mississippi, contributed to this story.