Welcome back, SEC football fans. We had some good games, some ugly games, and a few just weird moments. But as usual, we’ll digest all of that and come back at you with our SEC Power Rankings after Week 1.
14. Arkansas (0-1, lost to Georgia 37-10)
The final score felt a bit like one would have expected. But there was plenty here that was unexpected. If you had Arkansas up 7-5 at halftime, well, you’re either a genius or a liar. Either the Arkansas defense is much better than expected or the Georgia offense was really, really bad. Or both.
13. Vanderbilt (0-1, lost to Texas A&M 17-12)
As discussed last week, it figured to be a Vandy/Arkansas matchup at the bottom of the power rankings. And it is, but both teams showed some legitimate spark in Week 1. But being in a one-score game down to the wire at College Station lifts the Commodores. They’re still toward the bottom, but the huge gap we had perceived between 12th and 13th probably isn’t there.
12. Missouri (0-1, lost to Alabama 38-19)
Alabama could have played name the score in this game, but that doesn’t differentiate Mizzou much from the bottom half of the SEC. The Tigers might be better than this, but it’ll take more than this to prove it.
11. South Carolina (0-1, lost to Tennessee 31-27)
The Collin Hill era went fairly well in terms of offense productivity … but it was a game that Carolina had to find a way to win and instead, after a rolling punt glanced off a blocker’s leg, they lost it in frustrating fashion.
10. Ole Miss (0-1, lost to Florida 51-35)
The good news? The Rebels racked up 600 yards of total offense, moved the ball at will and scored 35 points against the No. 5 Gators. The bad news? They allowed 600 yards of total offense, and forced exactly 1 Florida punt en route to giving up 51 points to the Gators.
9. Kentucky (0-1, lost to Auburn 29-13)
This was a potential statement game for the Wildcats, but unfortunately, the statement was that UK was pretty good at getting into decent field position … and then shooting themselves in the foot. Outgaining Auburn by 60 yards is good … but going -3 on turnovers isn’t.
8. Texas A&M (1-0, beat Vanderbilt 17-12)
Yes, the Aggies won their opener and fell 2 spots. Kellen Mond can’t be losing 3 fumbles every week, or there won’t be many more victories for A&M. While they always felt like the superior team against Vandy, the scoreboard didn’t really end up telling that story.
7. Tennessee (1-0, beat South Carolina 31-27)
The Vols move up just 1 spot because while they earned a meaningful road win, it wasn’t the kind of performance that led us to believe in the long-term health of UT as a factor in the SEC East. The biggest reason: 1-for-12 on 3rd downs was horrible.
6. LSU (0-1, lost to Mississippi State 44-34)
Giving up 623 passing yards will make those memories from last season fall by the wayside pretty quickly. Derek Stingley or Bo Pelini or somebody has to solve this, and quickly.
5. Mississippi State (1-0, beat LSU 44-34)
What was that we said about State not being able to compete in the West? We must have meant the AFC West, because they delivered everything Mike Leach hoped or expected in the Bayou. In a world in which many of the SEC favorites looked like they were sleep-walking, yes, the Bulldogs could be the 5th-best team in the SEC.
4. Auburn (1-0, beat Kentucky 29-13)
Auburn took care of business in the 4th quarter and — particularly when considered in light of LSU and A&M’s struggles — made a positive statement for its spot in the SEC West race. Now, next week will certainly tell more of that story …
3. Georgia (1-0, beat Arkansas 37-10)
At this point, would you take a Florida team that has trouble defending the pass or a Georgia team that struggles to complete the pass? Stetson Bennett playing well against Arkansas doesn’t sound that weird — him pulling the game out of the fire in the 2nd half certainly does.
2. Florida (1-0, beat Ole Miss 51-35)
Give up 613 total yards and move up 2 spots? Well, LSU lost and Georgia spent much of its game trying to see if it could cook up a way to lose to Arkansas. Meanwhile, the Rebels weren’t ever a factor in the 2nd half of this game. Sure, the yardage is disturbing, but the offensive foundation looked sharp.
1.Alabama (1-0, beat Missouri 38-19)
Not an especially inspiring performance, but the Tide took their foot off the gas in the 2nd half and coasted home. The gap between No. 1 and No. 2 might be the single biggest jump in this conference after 1 week.
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Joe Cox is a columnist for Saturday Down South. He has also written or assisted in writing five books, and his most recent, Almost Perfect (a study of baseball pitchers’ near-miss attempts at perfect games), is available on Amazon or at many local bookstores.