Week 2 of Southeastern Conference football was more exciting that just about anyone expected. Chris Lee wraps up what happened, and looks ahead.
This week’s storylines
A bad day at the office.
First, the league missed a golden opportunity when Tennessee blew a 17-0 lead against then-No. 19 Oklahoma. The Vols allowed a last-minute score, then quarterback Joshua Dobbs threw an interception in the second overtime that cost Vol fans the “we’re back!” brag that they’ve been sitting on for years.
Next, Arkansas suffered an embarrassing 16-12 upset to Toledo. While it may not be as bad a loss as some think—the Rockets are probably the Mid-American Conference’s best team and Arkansas out-gained Toledo by almost 200 yards, which suggests it was a bit of a fluke, try using those facts to console any SEC or Razorback fans. The bottom line, a loss to a non-Power Five conference team is unacceptable in the SEC West, and may be indicative that UA isn’t quite as good as we thought.
Worse than the above games, at least in my mind, is the fact that Auburn, out-gained 438-401, needed late-game heroics just to get to overtime with FCS opponent Jacksonville State, plus the fact that the Gamecocks failed to even try to move the ball in the last 39 seconds of regulation to win it there. Roughly 40-point favorites, Auburn should have never been in that position. The good news: Auburn’s still undefeated. The bad news: the Tigers look nothing like the national title contenders I thought they’d be.
Florida, a 31-24 winner over East Carolina, and Missouri, a 27-20 victor over Arkansas State, were also tested beyond what was expected.
A bad performance in Week 2 isn’t the worst thing that can happen; ask Ohio State, which lost to Virginia Tech (which went 7-6 in 2014) last season and then ran the table to win the national title. That said, there’s no denying that Week 2 wasn’t a good week for the SEC.
South Carolina’s starting quarterback, Connor Mitch, is out 4-to-6 weeks with a separated shoulder. Walk-on Perry Orth, who played well in USC’s loss to Kentucky, takes his place.
Tennessee defensive end Curt Maggitt, a preseason First Team All-SEC selection. has a hip injury that coach Butch Jones says will keep him out “an extended period of time.” The Vols are thin on the defensive line and this won’t help.
Missouri running back Russell Hansbrough is out for this week’s Connecticut game. The Tigers are 2-0 and winning with defense, but the Tiger offense, already suspect with Hansbrough, is now without the guy who’s probably Missouri’s most talented offensive player.
Auburn’s Carl Lawson, a potential All-SEC defensive end, missed all last year with an ACL injury. This weekend, he was on crutches with a hip flexor issue suffered in the Louisville game.
It looks like Will Grier (10-of-17, 151 yards, two TDs, one interception) is emerging as the guy in Gainesville and starting Saturday’s game, though Treon Harris (5-for-8, 54 yards) also played.
The same can be said for Alabama’s Jacob Coker (15-of-26, 214 yards, one touchdown, one interception) even though Cooper Bateman (11-of-17, 98, 1/1) also played.
In LSU’s first game, Brandon Harris went the distance in a road win over Mississippi State, although nothing in his stat line (9-of-14, 71 yards, no touchdowns or interceptions) suggests greatness.
The same can be said at Georgia, where Greyson Lambert missed his first seven tosses and came out for a series or two in favor of Brice Ramsey, but finished UGA’s 31-14 victory at Vandy.
In College Station, Texas A&M’s Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray split time, thought that was after the Aggies rode Allen’s three TD strikes to a big lead before yielding way just before the break.
- Alabama (2-0): The Crimson Tide took their foot off the gas in a 37-10 win over MTSU.
- Ole Miss (2-0): Rebels averaging 74.5 points and 635 yards through two games.
- Georgia (2-0): Bulldogs’ superior strength and athleticism was on full display in Nashville this weekend.
- Texas A&M (2-0): Aggies rank seventh in the SEC in total defense (326 yards per game); if that holds, it could be a special season.
- Auburn (2-0): Here’s betting that things go better for the Tigers going forward.
- LSU (1-0): A road win over MSU was good, but the QB issues must be answered.
- Missouri (2-0): Tigers lead the lead in total (209 yards) and scoring (11.5 points per game) defense.
- Arkansas (1-1): Adjusting to life without Jonathan Williams has been tougher than anticipated.
- Tennessee (1-1): At least the UT defense improved significantly in Week 2.
- Mississippi State (1-1):
- Florida (2-0): Gators unexpectedly averaging 46 points and 490 yards a game, though the competition has been suspect.
- Kentucky (2-0): Wildcats snapped a five-year road skid with win at South Carolina.
- South Carolina (1-1): Are we seeing the beginning of the end for coach Steve Spurrier?
- Vanderbilt (0-2): Commodores are much better but a a nation-worst minus-5 in turnovers has been a killer.
Player of the Year
- Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia, (305 yards, 8.8 per carry, 2 TDs)
- Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama (243 yards, 7.8 per carry, 6 TDs)
- Dak Prescott, QB, Miss. St. (56-of-90, 572 yds, 3 TD, 0 INT, 53 rushing yards)
- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU (159 yards, 5.7 per carry, 3 TDs)
- Brandon Allen, QB, Arkansas (46-of-71, 720 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INT, 22 rushing yards)
- Kentrail Brothers, LB, Missouri (16 tackles per game, 5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions)
- Jordan Jenkins, OLB, Georgia (9 TPG, 7 TFL)
- Skai Moore, LB, South Carolina (9.5 TPG, 3 interceptions, 4 pass break-up)
- Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB, Tennessee (15 TPG, 5 TFL)
- Daeshon Hall, DE, Texas A&M (4.5 TPG, 4 TFL)
This week’s picks: (Overall: 20-4, and 10-9 against the point spread)
Alabama 30, Ole Miss 23 (Alabama by 6.5): Alabama wins because of a superior running game and the fact that the Rebels won’t sneak up on ‘Bama this year. But an Ole Miss win wouldn’t stun me. This should be a classic.
Georgia 30, South Carolina 20 (Georgia by 16.5): Be wary of this one—as superior as Georgia looks, Carolina has been the Bulldogs four of the last five years. That included last year, when Georgia was clearly the better team.