In a way, week two is the 9th grade of the SEC season. Teams start to find their identity. The winners (Alabama & Georgia) and losers (Arkansas & Texas A&M) start to separate themselves. Teams that you thought you knew, therefore; never gave much thought to in the preseason (elementary school and middle school in this extended metaphor) start to become more attractive and catch your interest (Mississippi State & South Carolina). The picture is starting to gain some clarity as to what the next four years (11 weeks) will look like. Who will drop out? Who is going to surprise us? Who is going to be the valedictorian? Before we can answer that, we have to make it through 9th grade. Let’s take a look at the week that was.
The Gators were supposed to play Northern Colorado in Gainsville on Saturday, but the game was canceled due to concern over Hurricane Irma, an extremely reasonable decision. Florida will come off the bye in a huge game against Tennessee, that will be a tone setter for the East.
Kentucky: 27 vs Eastern Kentucky: 16
In the first half Eastern Kentucky looked like the better team. The Wildcats were outplayed and out-executed as the Colonels were capitalizing off of Kentucky’s numerous mistakes. Kentucky, however; was by far the more talented team and managed to erase a six point 3rd quarter deficit en route to a 27-16 win. Although it was a pretty dreadful performance from Kentucky, fans had some things to be happy about. The defense had another solid performance, and running back, Benny Snell bounced back to fulfill expectations with 103 yards and a touchdown. Preseason, I was high on Kentucky, but last week’s game against Southern Miss and this week’s game have cooled me off quite a bit. Next week’s game will against South Carolina will be pivotal in determining if Kentucky is still a potential East dark horse, or the basketball school playing football, that we have become familiar with over the years.
Ole Miss: 45 vs UT Martin: 24
When Ole Miss has the ball they might be the SEC’s most exciting team to watch. Give credit to OC/QB coach Phil Longo. In the spring, he promised an Air Raid attack, and that is exactly what Rebel fans have received in the first two weeks. Week two saw a second consecutive record breaking performance from the Shea Patterson-AJ Brown connection. Last week, Brown set a school record with 233 receiving yards. This week Patterson set a school record with 489 passing yards, 156 of those going to Brown. The Rebels are going to be exactly what fans hoped for in Oxford. They are going to be fun. They are going to be explosive, and they are going to pull some upsets. Never underestimate the team that has nothing to lose, to quote Fight Club “I found freedom. Losing all hope was freedom.”
Alabama: 41 vs Fresno State: 10
I’ve always been curious about the pregame mindset when a team like Fresno State comes to Tuscaloosa. Surely they defeat themselves before they walk in. I know it is part of the athlete psyche to never say never, walk with “any given Saturday” mantra, but it has to be pseudo-optimism when Alabama shows up on the schedule. Underneath that mask of “we’re going to pull this upset” they have to know that there is realistically no chance. Anyways, I digress. Alabama did what everyone expected them to do. The Tide looked like the best team in the conference against Fresno State, and really all the notes I had were just nitpicky things. Hurts had a Heisman type performance on the ground, but there are still some concerns about his throwing ability, mainly who he is throwing to. What other option does he have except for Ridley? Nobody else has stepped up to be Hurt’s second option. I also have been slightly disappointed in Bo Scarbrough. I know he is coming back from injury, so I’m taking these first two weeks with a grain of salt, but he has not performed at a level where Alabama can have an effective three headed monster in the backfield. For the most part, Alabama looked great. I’m still not sold on them as the best team in the country, but after Auburn’s loss to Clemson, which I will write more on later, I like Alabama as my West favorite.
Arkansas: 7 vs TCU: 28
Bret Bielema, your seat is officially hot. The Hogs put together a completely abysmal performance, topped off by Cole Hedlund doinking a 20-yard field goal attempt off of the left goal post, his second miss from inside 30 on the day. It was a doink so loud that I could hear it an hour south in Fort Smith, and that bang has resounded throughout the week, with the sound of 28-7, 267 total yards, Austin Allen’s stat line of 9 for 23 with 138 yards. I worked at the Cracker Barrel off of I-40 and State Highway 71 on Saturday night. It’s on the way to and from Fayetteville form most places in Arkansas, so we were hit with a postgame rush of people leaving the game. The disappointment was palpable. The frustration was audible. I was able to overhear calls for Bielema’s job, shock and awe that a kicker at the power five level can miss two <30-yard field goals, the names of backup quarterbacks Ty Storey and Cole Kelley. Needless to say, It will be a long bye week going into the most critical game of Bielema’s tenure against Texas A&M, another team that has hit somewhat dire straits. Changes are expected, and presumably, will be made. Hedlund will for sure be replaced, per Bret Bielema. He already has one walk on option available, after U of A student, Samson Tamijani posted a QR code linking to his highlights at Bret Bielema’s parking spot, a parking spot that may belong to somebody else, if the right changes are not made.
Tennessee: 42 vs Indiana State: 7
Returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown. There is no greater tone setter in the game of Football. Ty Chandler provided the opening haymaker against Indiana State, which would lead to an early round knockout in the form of the Vols up 28-0 at halftime. Tennessee did not slow down from there, as they had arguably the most dominant performance of the week. The Vols might be for real. They’ve looked like one of the top two teams in the East, at times even the best. Quinten Dormandy has been one of the surprise performers in the league, with 415 yards and 2 TDs in his first two games. They could prove themselves as a candidate to go back to Atlanta, on week 14 with a strong performance against Florida, next week
Vanderbilt: 42 vs Alabama A&M: 0
Did Vanderbilt look good or what? (Don’t ask their fans) After two weeks we have learned that the ‘Dores have; their best quarterback since Jay Cutler, in the form of Kyle Shurmur, three legitimately good RB’s in Ralph Webb, Khari Blasingame, and Jamauri Wakefield, and Derek Mason and staff have put together a defense that can compete with their SEC counterparts. That being said, I’m not completely buying into the hype just yet, Alabama A&M is one of the most mediocre programs at the D1 level. Even UAB, a school coming off of a de-facto death penalty, beat them 38-7 in week one. I am pumped for next week’s game against Kansas State, though. This game in Nashville will be an absolutely gigantic opportunity for this rising Vandy program. If Vanderbilt can get the win, I and a good portion of others will be Vandy believers. Something is happening in Nashville, keep an eye on those Commodores.
South Carolina: 31 vs Missouri: 13
The first conference game of the year. Muschamp’s Gamecocks coming off of a key win against NC State going up against a high powered Missouri offense. South Carolina would miss a field goal on the first drive, from there the Tigers would seize the momentum on the way to a 10-0 lead. Mizzou would not hold the lead long though. with a few ticks under thirteen minutes left in the 2nd, South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel would return a kickoff for six, his second return touchdown of the season. In the manner of Deebo’s return, USC would run away with the game from that point, in the form of a 31-13 win. South Carolina could not have asked for a better start to the season. South Carolina came into the season with relatively low expectations after lucking into 6-6 season last year. For them to open the season 2-0 with both of those wins coming against quality teams is huge for momentum going into the rest of the season. I really like what I’ve seen out of South Carolina. Jake Bentley has played great, Deebo Samuel has opened himself up for some Heisman considerations, tons of play-makers have stepped up on this defense, such as; Skai Moore, DJ Smith, TJ Brunson, and Bryson Allen-Williams. This is a different South Carolina team. They’ve come together, they’ve improved, and they seem to have found an identity. Missouri looks to be about the same. They’re still in a bit of a rebuilding phase, and that’s fine. Nobody was expecting them to be great this year. I liked some of what I saw from Drew Lock. His stat line was awful, but eye test wise he has some great intangibles and room to grow. Lock isn’t Mizzou’s only weapon either, Damarea Crockett has flown under the radar as one of the leagues best skill players in the early going with 299 yards and 2 touchdowns. I give Mizzou the same prognosis I gave them last week. The offense has the ability to win some games, but nobody is holding them back more than their own defense.
Texas A&M: 24 vs Nichols St: 14
So, Kevin Sumlin was seven minutes away from losing his job on Saturday, as his Aggies were tied with Nichols State late in the 4th. Texas A&M would eventually rally late to hold of Nichols, yes Texas A&M had to rally late to hold off an FCS team. Kevin Sumlin has a profound propensity for putting freshman QBs in high-pressure situations. Its worked for Sumlin before, but it is not working with Kellen Mond. The teenager out of IMG Academy went 3 for 17 with 27 yards last week against UCLA and was 12 for 21 with 105 yards this week. The kid is talented, he has shown some flashes of potential, but he is so not ready. Eventually, Jake Hubenak was put in, who I would have gone with all along. Hubenak is not going to be Manziel, but he is a decent place holder until Nick Starkel or Mond are ready to be the next Johnny Football. A&M needs a confidence building win against Louisana Lafayette next week, as they still appear to be reeling form the UCLA collapse. Make no mistake, the team we saw Saturday is not going to keep Sumlin his job.
Auburn: 6 vs Clemson: 14
As of week two, Auburn is still a QB away from a national championship. Stidham can’t be much of a quarterback when he’s on his back ELEVEN times. Stidham could never find a groove and was only able to manage 79. The offense only gathered 117 total yards; a dreadful performance. Auburn had an exemplary performance on the other side of the ball as they held the reigning national champions to 281 yards and 14 points. An outing like that is usually good for a win if the offense can score. The outrage is reasonable because the Tigers can absolutely do more on offense. They have a running game that is capable of putting out 200 yards a week. Stidham can throw for 300 yards with the right plays and blocking. Next week against Mercer will be key to figuring things out as Auburn prepares for conference play.
Georgia: 20 vs Notre Dame: 19
Taking a true freshman QB to South Bend and winning is the biggest moment of Kirby Smart’s Georgia tenure thus far. Jake Fromm wasn’t superman under center, but he was reliable and did enough to get the job done, which is a lot for a true freshman playing as a visitor under the shadow of Touchdown Jesus. The SEC’s most talented backfield of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb continued to answer their call of duty, as they combined for 136 yards. The most pivotal key was the excellent defensive showing. JR Reed, Roquan Smith, Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy, and D’Andre Carter all had huge days. Some Georgia fans might not be thrilled, that they only beat a 4-8 team by one point, but they should be. This is different Notre Dame team and this was an awesome performance on the road.
Mississippi State: 57 vs Louisiana Tech: 21
This was sort of a wacky game from the outset with an SEC team going on the road against a group of five opponent. It gave us the wackiest play of the season (likely to hold the throne all year), and a defensive lineman scored two touchdowns. Wackiness aside, it was strong game from Nick Fitzgerald who threw for 124 yards and 3 TDs and added another 111 yards and a touchdown on the ground, along with Fitzgerald, running backs Aeris Williams and Kylin Hill helped pace the ground game with 107 and 62 yards, respectively. The defense could have and will probably need to play better in the coming weeks, but Louisiana Tech is a good team, so I won’t fault them too much. The Bulldogs get another Louisiana team next week in the form of LSU in a game that will be the first true test for two teams that have looked promising. Mississippi State has not shown me the ability to beat LSU thus far.
LSU: 45 vs Chattanooga: 10
LSU had the most dominant performance of the week last week after not letting BYU past mid-field, and this week was more of the same. Well, not exactly the same, Chattanooga was able to get past midfield, and even make it into the end-zone once. LSU may have found a quarterback after a second solid performance from Danny Etling. Derrius Guice was slow to start, but ended up with a great night. The biggest surprise out of Baton Rouge has been Guice’s supporting staff in the backfield. Last week, Darrel Williams went for 92 yards, and this week junior Nick Brossette went for 63. When given the opportunity to showcase themselves the role player running backs haven’t wasted it, and have given Matt Canada some options to use after Guice. Speaking of Matt Canada’s weapons, I’d be remissed if I didn’t mention DJ Chark’s performance of 103 receiving yards and a punt return touchdown. The defense, as I said earlier, was once again dominant only allowing 10 points. LSU has looked great, and I have them as the second best team in the conference until further notice. I see them breezing past Mississippi State next week and moving to 3-0.
Offensive Player of the Week
Ole Miss QB Shea Patterson 32/43 489 yards 5 TD 1 Int. 4 att 6 rush yards
Defensive Player of the Week
Mississippi St DL Jeffery Simmons 5 tackles 3 solo. 1 fumble recovery 1 blocked punt 2 TD.
- Mississippi State
- Ole Miss
- South Carolina
- Texas A&M