It was a huge week in the SEC, as the conference officially welcomed its two new members. However, the new schools (Texas A&M and Missouri) both lost in its debuts but should be good additions to the conference. Tennessee moved to 2-0 with a win over Georgia State, and Alabama handled Western Kentucky with a 35-0 win. One of the biggest surprises in the SEC from Week 2 was Vanderbilt's loss to Northwestern.
Post-Week 2 Offensive Player of the Year Standings
1. AJ McCarron, Alabama - Western Kentucky won’t be the toughest test of McCarron’s season, but the Tide’s quarterback completed 14 of 19 passes for 219 yards and four touchdowns. In his last six games, McCarron has 12 touchdown and no interceptions. Next up: Arkansas.
2. Tyler Bray, Tennessee - A bigger test will come this week against Florida, but Bray already appears poised for a career year by completing 45 of 61 of his passes for 643 yards with six touchdowns in his first two games.
3. Mike Gillislee, Florida -Where would the Gators be without their top running back? Florida wants to center its offense around the power run game, and Gillislee is delivering. After rushing for 148 yards and two touchdowns against Bowling Green, the senior rushed for 83 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries against Texas A&M. Presumably, he would have been more of a factor had he not missed time with injury.
Post-Week 2 Defensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Jarvis Jones, Georgia - Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said Jones may be the best defensive player in America. He certainly was in the second week of the season as he almost single-handedly turned a stalemate of a game into a lopsided finish for Georgia. Jones set up a touchdown by intercepting a James Franklin pass and returning it 22 yards to the 1-yard line. Jones then sacked James Franklin later in the fourth quarter, forcing a fumble to set up a touchdown to seal the 41-20 win.
2. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State - Opposing quarterbacks avoided the Bulldogs cornerback over the second half of last season. Auburns’ Kiehl Frazier would have been wise to do the same. Banks had two first-half interceptions against the Tigers to go with six tackles. Banks has 14 career picks and seven in the last two seasons.
3. Damontre Moore, Texas A&M - The nation’s top pass rush from a year ago showed no signs of letting up against Florida. The Aggies had eight sacks against the Gators, led by Damontre Moore. The junior finished with three sacks and 10 tackles.
Post-Week 2 Coach of the Year Standings
1. Nick Saban, Alabama - Until further notice, Saban’s still the best coach in the country even when he’s chastising the media (when he’s really chastising his own players).
2. Mark Richt, Georgia - The Bulldogs are still missing key players on defense, but big plays from the D set the tone in a conference road win.
3. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina - It was only East Carolina, but the Gamecocks rolled despite a backup quarterback and only 40 yards from Marcus Lattimore.
Post-Week 2 SEC Power Rankings
1. Alabama (2-0, 0-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 1
Week 2 result: Beat Western Kentucky 35-0
It wasn’t the cleanest effort, but the Crimson Tide handled Western Kentucky to move to 2-0 on the year. Quarterback AJ McCarron was efficient and effective, completing 14 of 19 passes for 219 yards and four touchdowns. Alabama’s defense held the Hilltoppers to 224 yards, while also forcing four turnovers. One concern for the Crimson Tide was the play of the offensive line. Western Kentucky recorded six sacks against McCarron, giving something for Nick Saban and his staff to address in practice this week.
Next Game: at Arkansas
2. LSU (2-0, 0-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 2
Week 2 result: Beat Washington 41-3
The Tigers haven’t had to sweat much through the first two weeks and should cruise to a 3-0 start with Idaho up next. LSU fell behind 3-0 to Washington but took control through the rest of the first half with a dominating defensive line and rushing attack. The Tigers ended up with three running backs with at least 10 carries, with Alfred Blue leading the way with 101 yards. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger wasn’t flashy but finished with 195 yards on 12 completions. The only downside to Week 2 was an injury to tackle Chris Faulk in practice, who will miss the rest of the year.
Next Game: Idaho
3. Georgia (2-0, 1-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 3
Week 2 result: Beat Missouri 41-20
All the talk about suspensions catching up to Georgia against Missouri seemed pretty silly by late Saturday. The Bulldogs still don’t have safety Bacarri Rambo, linebacker Alec Ogletree and cornerback Sanders Commings. Instead, linebacker Jarvis Jones was a wrecking crew on defense on his own. The Bulldogs had some miscues early with two turnovers and five punts in the first eight possessions, but they were tough to stop on either side of the ball in the second half. Georgia held Missouri to 2.6 yards per carry, and Aaron Murray settled in to complete 22-of-35 passes for 242 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.
This week: FAU
4. South Carolina (2-0, 1-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 4
Week 2 result: Beat East Carolina 48-10
South Carolina had no need for Connor Shaw and his bruised shoulder against East Carolina, and in the process, the Gamecocks found a perfectly capably backup quarterback. Dylan Thompson was 21-of-37 for 330 yards with three touchdowns against the Pirates in his first career start. The 397 yards through the air were the most at South Carolina under Steve Spurrier.
This week: UAB
5. Tennessee (2-0. 0-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 6
Week 2 result: Beat Georgia State 51-13
Georgia State was overmatched, but the Volunteers were encouraged to see their passing game click for the second time this season. Quarterback Tyler Bray finished 18 of 20 for 310 yards with four touchdown passes while receiver Justin Hunter showed he’s recovered from a torn ACL by catching eight passes for 146 yards with three touchdowns. Bray is riding a streak of 13 consecutive completions going into the matchup with Florida, which is suddenly the top game in the SEC following Arkansas’ loss to Louisiana-Monroe. If there’s a concern for Tennessee, it may be in the kicking game where Michael Palardy has missed two extra points and a field goal this season.
This week: Florida
6. Florida (2-0, 1-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 9
Week 2 result: Beat Texas A&M 20-17
Florida scored a major win in halftime adjustments. Without any film on Kevin Sumlin’s Texas A&M team, the Gators limped through the first half, especially in defending Aggies freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel. The Gators allowed long drives throughout the first half, but they returned more disciplined in the second, forcing A&M to punt on all six second-half possessions. In his first game since being anointed as the starter, quarterback Jeff Driskel showed improvement, completing 13 of 16 passes for 162 yards with no turnovers. The Gators, though, must do a better job of protecting their quarterback, who was sacked eight times Saturday.
This week: at Tennessee
7. Mississippi State (2-0, 1-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 12
Week 2 result: Beat Auburn 28-10
It’s only the second week of the season, but the Bulldogs 28-10 victory over Auburn was huge. The win over the Tigers was Dan Mullen’s first against a SEC West opponent outside of Ole Miss, while the game also showed it was a case of programs headed in opposite directions. Quarterback Tyler Russell completed 20 of 29 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns, while the defense forced five turnovers and allowed no offensive touchdowns to Auburn. With games against Troy, South Alabama and Kentucky coming up, Mississippi State should be 5-0 before the Oct. 13 game against Tennessee.
Next Game: at Troy
8. Missouri (1-1, 0-1 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 7
Week 2 result: Lost to Georgia 41-20
The Tigers exited the loss to Georgia with bigger concerns than staring 0-1 in their new conference. The offensive line struggled from beginning to end and is facing a major injury to boot. Missouri had three bad snaps (including one over the head of quarterback James Franklin for a 24-yard loss) and two penalties on their first three possessions, and by halftime the line lost its leader. Tackle Elvis Fisher left the game with an MCL sprain, forcing a reshuffling of three spots on the line midway through the game. The result was a redshirt freshman at center and a career day for Georgia’s Jarvis Jones. If Fisher is out for a significant amount of time, the Tigers won’t have any warm up games with Arizona State and South Carolina on the schedule in the next two weeks.
This week: Arizona State
9. Texas A&M (0-1, 0-1 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 8
Week 2 result: Lost to Florida 20-17
It was a big day in College Station but once again, the Aggies were unable to close out a lead in the second half. Texas A&M’s SEC debut started well, jumping out to a 17-7 lead at halftime. However, Florida kept Aggies’ quarterback Johnny Manziel in check in the second half, while making a few timely plays on offense to drop Texas A&M to 0-1. Although the Gators have struggled to establish consistency on the offensive line, coordinator Mark Snyder has to be pleased with the Aggies’ defense recording eight sacks on Saturday. Texas A&M should break into the win column with a matchup against SMU this Saturday.
Next Game: at SMU
10. Arkansas (1-1, 0-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 5
Week 2 result: Lost to UL Monroe 34-31 (OT)
Whether it was a case of looking ahead to Alabama or injuries adding up, Saturday’s loss to Louisiana-Monroe was inexcusable for a team that expected to compete for the SEC West title. The Razorbacks were knocked out of the national title race with a 34-31 loss to the Warhawks, a game that turned on an injury to quarterback Tyler Wilson. Arkansas’ defense was a question mark entering the season and it doesn’t appear to be much better after allowing 550 yards in Saturday’s loss. The Razorbacks don’t have much time to mope about the disappointing effort, especially with No. 1 Alabama coming to Fayetteville.
Next Game: Alabama
11. Auburn (0-2, 0-1 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 10
Week 2 result: Lost 28-10 to Mississippi State
Outside of Onterio McCalebb’s kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half, there wasn’t much in the way of positives for Auburn to take away from Saturday’s loss to Mississippi State. The Tigers managed only 216 total yards and committed five turnovers. Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier had a disastrous performance, completing only 13 of 22 passes for 125 yards and three interceptions. Making matters worse for the Tigers is the upcoming schedule, which features games against LSU, Arkansas and upset-minded Louisiana-Monroe this Saturday. Unless the offense makes major strides, it will be tough for Auburn to make a bowl this year.
Next Game: UL Monroe
12. Vanderbilt (0-2, 0-1 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 11
Week 2 result: Lost to Northwestern 23-13
The optimism from last season’s bowl trip is beginning to wane after the Commodores started their season with losses to South Carolina and Northwestern. Against the Wildcats, Vanderbilt allowed 10 points in the final 2:06, breaking a 13-13 tie on the road. Although Northwestern’s defense was shredded by Syracuse a week earlier, Vanderbilt struggled to move the ball in the second half. Jordan Rodgers finished 17-of-33 for 217 yards, took three sacks and lost two fumbles. Against Presbyterian of the FCS, Vandy may have a chance to play backup quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels, who had a successful freshman season at Wyoming before his transfer. It might not be the last time Franklin turns to his backup.
This week: Presbyterian
13. Kentucky (1-1, 0-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 13
Week 2 result: Beat Kent State 47-14
Kentucky needed a boost of confidence after the 32-14 loss to Louisville in the opener. The final score was lopsided, but the Wildcats led by merely a field goal until the final eight minutes of the third quarter. Kentucky scored 30 unanswered points in the second half to seal the rout. Maxwell Smith continues to be one of Kentucky’s only hopes for respectability. He was 30-of-39 for 354 yards with four touchdown passes an no interceptions against Kent State. And since taking over as Kentucky’s starting quarterback, he’s completing 63.7 percent of his passes for 1,403 yards with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions in his last six games.
This week: Western Kentucky
14. Ole Miss (2-0, 0-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 14
Week 2 result: Beat UTEP 28-10
The competition hasn’t been great, but the Rebels have shown some signs of life and are off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2009. Ole Miss didn't dominate but was never really in any danger of losing to UTEP on Saturday night. Quarterback Bo Wallace has been solid through the first two weeks, completing 35 of 46 passes for 438 yards and five touchdowns. Just how much has Ole Miss improved under new coach Huge Freeze? The Rebels should find out this Saturday with Texas coming to Oxford.
Next Game: Texas
by David Fox and Steven Lassan
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