The first weekend in college football concluded last night. Here is how it looked for the SEC:
Alabama (W, 35-17)
There was no letdown in this week one matchup against Wisconsin. Jake Coker got the start, as FPF predicted, and unlike what many of the naysayers predicted, he played fine. He threw for over 200 yards, threw for a touchdown, and, most importantly, did not turn the ball over. It helped that Derek Henry played a monster game, rattling off two big touchdown runs and rushing for 147 yards. Kenyon Drake showed his versatility rushing for 77 yards and a touchdown, while also adding 48 receiving yards in the passing game. The defense looked fantastic up front, holding one of the great running teams in college football to 40 yards rushing. The secondary looked to have some issues, but that was almost to be expected week one. Overall, a great opening weekend for the Tide.
Auburn (W, 34-27)
Auburn started out this game up 24-0. They finished the game 10-27. Louisville proved to be a better opponent than FPF had originally thought, but it was also alarming to see the Tigers finish the game in such an embarrassing fashion. The defense, while it had some great moments, gave up 238 yards rushing. It did produce points, however, off of a forced fumble returned for a touchdown. The offense showed flashes of how truly great it could be, but overall the Tiger offense was way too inconsistent. Jeremy Johnson did not have the big opening game we predicted. He finished the game with three interceptions. Overall. the Tigers have the talent, they just have to find a way to harness the first half Auburn team and discard the second half Auburn team.
Kentucky (W, 40-33)
Not the best way to open the college football season. Scoring 40 points is a positive, but giving up 33 points to the Rajin’ Cajuns is nothing to hang your hat on. Especially, when you consider the fact that the Wildcats blew a 33-10 advantage. UL-L has been a pretty strong non-power 5 conference program, but this was not how Kentucky wanted to start the season. If they are going to have a shot in the SEC, then this defense (which gave up 479 yards this weekend) is going to have to improve. Overall, as long as Towles throws for three touchdowns a game, Kentucky should be in every game, but the defense has to get better if they expect to win this year.
Mississippi State (W, 34-16)
This was a good win for the Bulldogs. They went into Hattiesburg to play a program (Southern Miss) that would have loved nothing more than to beat them. The stadium was rocking, it was a late night game, and Tim Brando was calling the game for Fox Sports One. This was not an opening season cupcake win. Dak played good enough to win, but he still had some issues with accuracy. The defense, while giving up over 300 yards passing, did a great job of holding the Golden Eagles to field goals once they got in the red zone. Overall, I was pleased to see the Bulldogs come out and handle business on the road in a hostile environment.
South Carolina (W, 17-13)
Well, it wasn’t the prettiest win, but it was a start. The highly anticipated opening game for this Gamecock defense went well enough. They gave up over 400 total yards and at times looked to have trouble stopping the run, but when it came down to the red zone they held the high powered Chapel Hill offense to 13 points. They forced three interceptions, including two by Skai Moore in the end zone, the second coming on 4th and Goal with a few minutes left in the game. Punter Sean Kelly played a good game, which helped the South Carolina defense out tremendously. The offense looked sluggish at times. The good news was that Connor Mitch, and the rest of the offense, did not turn the ball over the entire game. The running game looked pretty good, rushing for over 250 yards, and Shon Carson, an unlikely hero, played big for the Gamecocks in the second half. Overall, a win is a win. Let’s see how they play against Kentucky.
Texas A&M (W, 38-17)
Boy, was I wrong. I thought A&M was going to lose this game in the second half. Instead this defense looked great with eight sacks and two forced fumbles. The offense looked like a Kevin Sumlin offense. A&M gained over 400 yards, and set the tone for the game with a dynamic punt return for a touchdown. I was very impressed with how the Aggies played, and how they closed the game in the fourth quarter. Many of the college football pundits predicted that Arizona State was going to win the Pac-12. If that is the case, then A&M sent a message to the SEC this weekend. Overall, the Aggies played a great game and shut FPF up. That being said, they opened up last season with a huge win, only to falter late in the season.
Vanderbilt (L, 12-14)
Wow. This was not the way to start the season. And especially in the fashion they lost this game. Vanderbilt outgained Western Kentucky 385 yards to 246 yards. The Commodores had many chances to get points/touchdowns only to turn the ball over or make a mistake. The difference in the game was the turnover margin. Vanderbilt turned the ball over three times, while WKU had zero turnovers. Overall, the hot seat just became hotter for Derek Mason. This might not end well for him or the Vandy football season.
No new perspectives on Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, LSU, and Ole Miss after this weekend. All (except LSU) blew out teams they were supposed to beat. LSU’s game was cancelled due to weather.
The SEC’s record this week: 12-1
FPF’s picks last week: 11-2