Thoughts On SEC Football After Week Two

, , , , ,

Here’s my take–early as it is–on each conference team.

The college football season is in full swing now, and nine SEC schools haven’t lost a game. But several programs are struggling to find an identity. Here’s my take on how the conference is stacking up–the good, the bad, and everything in-between.

Courtesy: The Bleacher Report

Alabama Crimson Tide (2-0): Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide have met expectations. ‘Bama took care of then-third-ranked Florida State before ripping Fresno State apart on Saturday. Quarterback Jalen Hurts has been excellent, completing 24-of-36 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 209 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. The Tide will continue its cupcake fest on Saturday against Colorado State before opening SEC play at Vanderbilt on September 23.

Arkansas Razorbacks (1-1): The Razorbacks took care of Florida A&M in the season opener, but were stymied by TCU in a 28-7 home loss on Saturday. Arkansas was held to just 267 yards of offense, and quarterback Austin Allen completed just 9-of-23 passes for 138 yards. The Razorbacks will enjoy a bye week before traveling to Arlington to face Texas A&M on September 23.

Auburn’s Gus Malzahn (photo, AU Athletics),

Auburn Tigers (1-1): The Tigers’ defense has been as tough as a burnt pork chop. Auburn limited a potent Georgia Southern team to just seven points and 78 yards in the opener, and then allowed Clemson just 14 points in a loss at Death Valley on Saturday. Despite emerging as one of the best defensive teams in the conference, the offense has been stagnant at times. Gus Malzahn and company will need to better offense to dethrone Alabama.

Florida Gators (0-1): Florida didn’t play its home opener Saturday because of Hurricane Irma. That gives the Gators more time to get better. In its opener against Michigan, the Gators were limited to just 17 points and 192 yards by a defense that had lost 10 of its 11 starters from last year. The Gators ground game was especially weak. The Gators gained only 16 yards on the day. Florida needs more offense to compete in the SEC.

Courtesy: Bulldawg Illustrated

Georgia Bulldogs (2-0): The Bulldogs are a serious contender for the SEC East title. The Dawgs defeated Appalachian State, 31-10, in the season opener before earning a well-deserved 20-19 victory over Notre Dame in South Bend on Saturday. The Bulldogs are especially strong on the ground with two-headed monsters, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, who have run for 159 and 160 yards, respectively.

Kentucky Wildcats (2-0): Saturday may have been déjà vu for Kentucky fans. FCS Eastern Kentucky led late in the second half before the Wildcats finally pulled away for a harder-than-expected victory. The same thing happened two years ago when EKU took UK to OT before falling. UK’s defense has been stout (16.5 ppg average), but the offense needs work. That’s not a good situation going into a tough SEC opener this Saturday at South Carolina.

LSU Tigers (2-0): LSU shut out BYU, 27-0, in the opener before rolling to a 45-10 victory against Chattanooga in Baton Rouge on Saturday. RB Derrius Guice has been great for the Tigers, rushing for 224 yards and four touchdowns on 42 carries (5.3 yards/carry). With Mississippi State, Syracuse, and Troy coming next, LSU will likely be 5-0 when September draws to a close.

Nick Fitzgerald, MSU (photo, Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports)

Mississippi State Bulldogs (2-0): Mississippi State has momentum going into its SEC opener versus LSU. The Bulldogs dismantled a very good Louisiana Tech team on Saturday, 57-21. Standout quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has shown that he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC. Fitzgerald has completed 28-of-47 passes for 363 yards and five touchdowns, while rushing for an additional 152 yards and three scores. The Bulldogs are back on the road to relevance.

Missouri Tigers (1-1): Mizzou’s defense is getting ripped. After giving up 43 points to FCS Missouri State in the home opener, MU yielded 31 to South Carolina last Saturday. The Tigers haven’t found a consistent rhythm on offense either. It looks to be another long season in Columbia.

Ole Miss Rebels (2-0): The Rebels are 2-0, but that’s deceiving. In reality, Ole Miss has been mediocre in tune-up games against South Alabama and UT-Martin. Now the Rebels head into a stretch that includes games at California, Alabama, and Auburn. The day the Rebels win all three of those games will be the day that Gulfport has a nice beach.

Jack Bentley, USC (photo, The State)

South Carolina Gamecocks (2-0): The Gamecocks are legit. A week after upsetting NC State, USC limited an explosive Missouri offense to just 13 points. QB Jake Bentley has produced steady numbers (35-of-57, 402 yards, four TDs). The Gamecocks look to be a dark horse in the SEC East race.

Tennessee Volunteers (2-0): After entertaining millions of fans on Labor Day with an improbable win over Georgia Tech, the Vols continued their winning ways on Saturday with a 42-7 victory over Indiana State. QB Quinten Dormandy has done a solid job in filling Joshua Dobbs’ shoes–33-of-55 passes for 415 yards and four touchdowns. Tennessee will travel to “The Swamp” on Saturday to face rival Florida in a game that–with a Vols’ win–could set up an epic meeting between Georgia and Tennessee at Rocky Top on September 30.

Courtesy: LBC9 News

Texas A&M Aggies (1-1): This season could very well be Kevin Sumlin’s last. A week after the Aggies let a 44-10 lead slip away in a 45-44 loss at UCLA, Texas A&M found itself in a dog fight with FCS Nicholls. Those Aggies’ struggles have led to demands for Sumlin’s firing. The only thing that can save his job is an upset of Alabama when the Aggies host the Crimson Tide on October 7.

Vanderbilt Commodores (2-0): Yeah, Vanderbilt has taken care of Middle Tennessee State and Alabama A&M, but notching a victory against Kansas State will be a more difficult task come Saturday. QB Kyle Shurmur has surpassed expectations–completing 35-of-46 passes for 498 yards and seven touchdowns–but we’ll know more about these Commodores after this weekend.


About Cameron Brown

Cameron Brown is sports columnist with The Journal-Enterprise, Providence, Kentucky and winner of the Kentucky Press Association “Best Sports Column of the Year” award. Cameron has a passion for basketball–like so many others in his home state of Kentucky. He played basketball for his high school in rural western Kentucky and enjoys other sports, including college football and Major League Baseball. His dream is to have a job in sports.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *