After one week, it looks like the path to the crystal football will go through the Southeastern Conference yet again. Though there were, and still are, questions around the league, the top tier teams showed they aren’t going anywhere.
The Usual Suspects
On a national stage, the Alabama Crimson Tide destroyed the winningest football program, though not quite ready for prime time, Michigan Wolverines. There were no signs of complacency from the Tide as their defense was just a stingy as that national championship version, holding the Wolverines to just 269 total yards. Wolverine quarterback Denard Robinson was harassed and beaten all night, while AJ McCarron managed the Tide offense and let the running game batter the Wolverine defense. The opponent may have been a bit overrated, but Alabama made a statement Saturday night.
The Zach Mettenberger era official began in Baton Rouge against the North Texas Mean Green. The Tigers cruised to a 41-14 victory, but they left a lot of room for improvement. While Mettenberger is clearly an upgrade talent wise, there still is a learn curve for the young QB. With the exception of two busted plays, the defense did not seem to miss a beat with the large turnover they experienced. The one unit that did not suffer from sloppy play was the running game. LSU rushed for 306 yards. No surprise what the Tigers want to do this year.
Surprise Team of the Week
Last week, I jumped off the Tennessee bandwagon. I thought Derek Dooley would lose against NC State and the downward spiral. Now, I’m slipping on a pair of shades and trying to get back on. Not only did the Vols look good, they were by far the best looking team in the SEC East. As I expected, the offense was the focal point of the team, but they debuted JUCO transfer Cordarrelle Patterson. He had over a hundred total yards in the first quarter! Tyler Bray looked like the best quarterback in the SEC on Friday. There was concern about being able to run the ball, but the Vols showed a little push towards the end of
the game and the defense had a solid effort. With the showings of the rest of the teams in the East, Vols fans have to be encouraged with their team.
Biggest Disappointments of the Week
South Carolina struggled with up and coming Vanderbilt. Connor Shaw showed some grit and was a big reason the Gamecocks won the game, but he only threw for 67 yards. That won’t cut it against the better teams in the league. Outside of Marcus Lattimore and spurts from the pass rush, South Carolina has a lot to worry about.
Florida and Georgia both struggled with a couple of MAC schools. While Georgia seemed disinterested in the first half and let the Bulls make a game of it, they established themselves and pulled away in the end. Florida, on the other hand, just looked out of it in all phases of the game. The musical chairs at quarterback headlined all issues. The Gators has settled on Jeff Driskel for next week. It will be interesting to see if that helps the overall consistency.
Games to Watch
Washington vs. LSU
This is the big non-conference game of the week. While LSU dismantled North Texas, they clearly have some issues to work out. Washington comes in after having a knockdown, drag out game with San Diego State. There should be an improvement for both squads. Look for Washington to test LSU’s young secondary with quarterback Keith Price. In the end, Washington is just bad on defense. This game won’t be close.
Florida vs. Texas A&M
It is Texas A&M’s first SEC game and also their first game of the season due to Hurricane Issac. Everyone saw Aggie Coach Kevin Sumlin put up huge offensive numbers at Houston with Case Keenum. No one really knows what to expect in College Station in his first year. Meanwhile, Florida has ended its quarterback derby with Jeff Driskel getting the nod. The Gators hope that does the trick because they have been absolutely horrendous on offense for the past two seasons. This one is a toss-up, but Florida has been so inept it is hard to picture them being able to score enough to win this one.
Georgia vs. Missouri
Missouri also gets its first SEC action as the Georgia Bulldogs head to Columbia. Missouri has taken an aggressive approach upon entering the league. They have not been shy about their feelings of being overlooked and feel disrespected. However, after this quote by Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson about watching the Georgia game, they may have insulted the whole league:
“I watched that game. I turned it off, too…it’s like watching Big Ten football. It’s old-man football. If we execute, nobody in this league can touch us. Period.”
That will make the rounds in the Georgia locker room and Mizzou will get a proper welcome to the SEC.
What were your thoughts on the first week for the SEC? Are Alabama and/or LSU favorites to win the title? Let us know in the comments!