It’s only Week 1, but if the early indications are true, the SEC is deeper and better than 2012. LSU showcased the next wave of talent in a win over TCU, Ole Miss picked up a good road win over Vanderbilt, Arkansas handled Sun Belt favorite UL Lafayette, and Tennessee and Auburn scored victories under a new coaching staff.
Alabama didn’t have the best offensive outing against Virginia Tech, but the Crimson Tide are still the No. 1 team in the SEC and in the nation.
South Carolina secured a solid non-conference victory over North Carolina on Thursday night, while Georgia lost by three points on the road to Clemson.
SEC Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
Alabama (1-0, 0-0): The beating was far less thorough than most anticipated, but Alabama was never really threatened in its 35-10 win over Virginia Tech at the Georgia Dome. The Crimson Tide’s offense was underwhelming (206 total yards), but Bama scored two touchdowns on special teams and one on defense. Next Week: Bye
South Carolina (1-0, 0-0): The Gamecocks recorded a workmanlike 27–10 win over North Carolina on Thursday night. South Carolina flashed its big-play ability early when Connor Shaw hooked up with Shaq Roland on a 65-yard touchdown toss in the first quarter. From that point, Steve Spurrier leaned on his rushing attack; Mike Davis led the way with 115 yards (9.6-yard average), and Brandon Wilds chipped in with 64 yards on 12 rushes. Next Week: at Georgia
Georgia (0-1, 0-0): The Bulldogs missed a great opportunity to make a statement in Week 1. Georgia played well at times, but Mark Richt’s team made too many mistakes to beat a team as talented as Clemson on the road. Todd Gurley was sensational (154 yards on 12 carries), and Aaron Murray completed 20-of-29 for 323 yards, but the Georgia defense had no answer for the Clemson attack. Next Week: South Carolina
LSU (1-0, 0-0): The Tigers were very impressive in their 37–27 win over TCU in Arlington, Texas. The offense, under the guidance of new coordinator Cam Cameron, picked up 448 total yards and converted 13-of-19 on third down. The new-look LSU defense held TCU to 259 yards. Next Week: UAB
Texas A&M (1-0, 0-0): Johnny Manziel’s return from suspension and his subsequent behavior in the second half made national headlines, but the bigger story was the Texas A&M defense. Yes, the Aggies weren’t at full strength, but Rice rolled up 509 yards of total offense, including over 300 on the ground. That is not a good sign. Next Week: Sam Houston State
Florida (1-0, 0-0): The Gators were dominant on defense, holding a potent Toledo offense to just over 200 yards and a pair of field goals. Jeff Driskel was efficient at quarterback, completing 17-of-22 for 153 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. The Gators will have to prove they can throw the ball down field as the schedule toughens up in the coming weeks. Driskel’s longest completion was to tight end Trey Burton for 26 yards. Next Week: At Miami (Fla.)
Ole Miss (1-0, 1-0): The only team with an SEC win on the young season, Ole Miss showed some toughness by coming back from 11 points down in the second half to beat Vanderbilt in Nashville. After being held to 10 points in the first half, the Rebels scored four touchdowns in the final two quarters. Next Week: SE Missouri State.
Vanderbilt (0-1, 0-1): The Commodores rallied for a late score to grab a 35-32 lead over Ole Miss with under two minutes to play, but the defense let Rebel tailback Jeff Scott scamper 75 yards for the winning score just two plays later. Senior quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels, making his first SEC start, threw for 300 yards, and All-America wide receiver Jordan Matthews caught 10 passes for 178 yards. Next Week: Austin Peay
Arkansas (1-0, 0-0): The Hogs disposed of a solid UL Lafayette team with surprising ease, outgaining the Ragin’ Cajuns 522-to-274 en route to the 34-14 win. Brandon Allen, the new starting quarterback, threw for 230 yards, and two tailbacks (Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins) rushed for over 100 yards. Last year, Arkansas opened the season by losing at home to a Sun Belt team. Not this year. Next Week: vs. Samford
Mississippi State (0-1, 0-0): Mississippi State looked good early but did not play well in the final three quarters of a sluggish 21-3 loss to Oklahoma State in Houston. The biggest surprise: The Bulldogs failed to score a touchdown against a defense that gave up well over 400 yards per game last season. Starting quarterback Tyler Russell was forced to leave the game with an apparent head injury in the second half. Next Week: vs. Alcorn State
Tennessee (1-0, 0-0): In arguably the biggest mismatch on the Week 1 slate (nationally, not just in the SEC), Tennessee shut out Austin Peay 45-0 in Butch Jones’ debut as the Vols’ head coach. UT jumped out to a 42-0 lead at the half and coasted through the final two quarters. Quarterback Justin Worley completed 11-of-13 for 104 yards and three touchdowns. Next Week: vs. Western Kentucky
Missouri (1-0, 0-0): It was a bit of a struggle early — Murray State led Mizzou 14–13 after one quarter — but the Tigers dominated the final 45 minutes on their way to a 58–14 win. Missouri rolled up 694 total yards — 372 on the ground and 336 through the air. The highlight of the day: Henry Josey, making his first appearance since injuring his knee late in the 2011 season, rushed for 113 yards on 13 carries. Next Week: Toledo
Auburn (1-0, 0-0): The Tigers did a lot of good things in a 31–24 win over Washington State, but keep in mind that Wazzu was arguably the worst BCS conference team in the nation last season. The Cougars appear to be much improved, but we won’t know how to evaluate this Auburn win until we see more of Washington State. Still, a win is a win, and Auburn didn’t have too many of those last season. Next Week: Arkanas State
Kentucky (1-0, 0-0): The Mark Stoops era got off to a rough start with a 35-26 loss to Western Kentucky at LP Field in Nashville. And there was nothing fluky about this game: Western Kentucky was the better team. Kentucky went with Jalen Whitlow at quarterback. He did some good things with his legs but threw for only 78 yards on 15 attempts. Maxwell Smith, who appears to be a better fit for Neal Brown’s “Air Raid” offense, played relatively well off the bench. Next Game: Miami (Ohio)
SEC Week 1 Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
His team came up short, but Matthews was sensational in Vanderbilt’s 39–35 loss to Ole Miss. The senior wide receiver caught 10 passes for 178 yards and one touchdown, highlighted by a 42-yard grab on 4th-and-18 in the final two minutes. That catch, in double-coverage, came just moments after Matthews threw up at midfield after taking a blow to the stomach. Earlier in the second half, he missed time while dealing with cramps. Matthews has averaged 121.6 yards receiving in his last 13 SEC games.
Defensive Player of the Week: Robenson Therezie, Auburn
The Auburn defense intercepted a total of two passes during the entire 2012 season. Therezie matched that number by himself on Saturday night. The junior safety intercepted Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday to thwart a drive at midfield in the first quarter and then delivered arguably the play of the game when he picked off a pass in the end zone in the final five minutes with Auburn ahead by seven points. Therezie also added seven tackles.
Special Teams Player of the Week: Christion Jones, Alabama
Jones scored three touchdowns — one on a punt return, one a kickoff return and one on offense — to lead Alabama to a 35–10 win over Virginia Tech. The junior wideout is the second player in the past 10 years to score on a punt and kick return in the same game. His third touchdown came on a 38-yard reception in the third quarter.
Team of the Week: LSU
The Tigers were perhaps the most impressive SEC team of the opening weekend. Les Miles’ club looked good on both sides of the ball, outgaining TCU 448-to-259 en route to a 37–27 win over the Horned Frogs in Arlington, Texas. LSU has now won 42 consecutive non-conference games.
Coordinator of the Week: Cam Cameron, LSU
There wasn’t much not to like in Cameron’s debut as the play-caller at LSU. The Tigers rolled up 448 yards of offense against a TCU team that led the Big 12 in total defense last season. LSU showed nice balance (251 yards passing, 197 yards rushing), was tremendous on third down (13-of-19) and only committed one turnover. Zach Mettenberger had some nice moments, but the senior quarterback only completed 50 percent of his passes — a number that Cameron would like to see increase in coming weeks.
Freshman of the Week, Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
There were some freshmen with gaudier stats, but none had a bigger impact on his team’s win than Treadwell, the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver recruit. After catching only one pass in the first half, Treadwell set the tone for the Ole Miss offense in third quarter by catching eight passes on the Rebels’ two long scoring drives. He capped off the second drive with a 2-point conversion that cut the Vanderbilt lead to 28–25. The 6-3, 215-poud Illinois native ended the game with nine catches for 82 yards.
•Ole Miss snapped a three-game losing streak to Vanderbilt. The Rebels had lost six of the last eight against the Commodores.
• It shouldn’t be a surprise, but Arkansas had two 100-yard rushers in Bret Bielama’s debut. Jonathan Williams gained 151 yards on 18 carries, and freshman Alex Collins chipped in with 131 yards on 21 rushes.
• Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron completed 10-of-23 for 110 yards against Virginia Tech. It was the fewest completions for McCarron as a starter against an FBS opponent and it was only the second time in his career he has completed less than 50 percent of his passes. He went 12-of-25 against Florida as a sophomore in 2011.
• Mississippi State, which lost to Oklahoma State 21–3, failed to score a touchdown for the first time since losing to LSU 19–6 in September 2011. The Bulldogs have now lost six of their past seven games, with each loss coming by at least 14 points.
• Florida held Toledo to 205 total yards in its 24–6 win in Gainesville. The Rockets returned nine starters from an offense that averaged 445.2 yards per games a year ago. It was Toledo’s worst offensive showing since gaining 183 yards in a 41–2 loss to Arizona in Week 1 of the 2011 season.