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NEW RANKINGS: Auburn Rises

Tons of interesting outcomes yesterday, rankings get affected.

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

After the first weekend of the SEC season, which saw everyone in action, we learned a ton.

LSU isn’t great. Georgia has a quarterback problem. Bama is still annoyingly good. Mississippi State and Ole Miss are going to be a handful. That’s just the tip of the iceberg!

Auburn probably ended up with the second-best win of the weekend (after MSU over LSU), and the way that it happened left many Tiger fans feeling confident as Gus Malzahn gets ready to take his club into Athens this coming Saturday. Before we run through the conference, let’s check the new polls.

AP TOP 25

  1. Clemson
  2. Alabama
  3. Florida
  4. Georgia
  5. Notre Dame
  6. Ohio State
  7. Auburn
  8. Miami
  9. Texas
  10. Penn State
  11. UCF
  12. North Carolina
  13. Texas A&M
  14. Oregon
  15. Cincinnati
  16. Mississippi State
  17. Oklahoma State
  18. Oklahoma
  19. Wisconsin
  20. LSU
  21. Tennessee
  22. BYU
  23. Michigan
  24. Pittsburgh
  25. Memphis

COACHES’ POLL

  1. Clemson
  2. Alabama
  3. Florida
  4. Georgia
  5. Notre Dame
  6. Ohio State
  7. Auburn
  8. Miami
  9. Texas
  10. Penn State
  11. North Carolina
  12. UCF
  13. Texas A&M
  14. Mississippi State
  15. Cincinnati
  16. Oklahoma
  17. LSU
  18. Wisconsin
  19. Oklahoma State
  20. Tennessee
  21. Michigan
  22. BYU
  23. Virginia Tech
  24. Memphis
  25. Pittsburgh

As for the conference, here are some basic impressions on how everyone played, in alphabetical order. In most cases, the sample size may be too small to really understand what’s going on.

ARKANSAS: Without more of a sample size, it’s hard to tell whether their early success and halftime lead against Georgia was a function of the Bulldogs’ quarterback issues or just good hard-nosed play. Maybe Kirby wanted to take it easy on his former assistant. Either way, they didn’t look as woeful as years past before Georgia’s talent took over in the second half.

ALABAMA: Still good, Jaylen Waddle is going to be hilariously inconvenient to play against (we already know that), and anyone that thought Mac Jones would falter didn’t watch Nick Saban win championships with guys who probably wouldn’t rank in the upper quarter of quarterbacks around the country. Too much talent for a team like Missouri, but the Tide didn’t really pour anything on in the second half.

AUBURN: Adjustments and offensive growth. We saw the stars play out yesterday on both sides of the ball, particularly on the edge. Auburn’s receivers and defensive backs had hellacious ballgames, and we saw some tinkering with the lines that produced better results after a slow start. As usual, Kevin Steele’s defensive adjustments may be the unsung hero of the game, but Chad Morris’ impact on Bo NIx’s game was evident from the start. Bo’s three touchdowns tied a career high and were a fantastic sign of things to come. Huge game this week in Athens.

FLORIDA: If there’s a 2020 candidate for Joe Burrow’s vacated spot, it’s Kyle Trask. he threw for 6 touchdowns yesterday, and Florida ran up the yardage and the points against Ole Miss. Kyle Pitts is going to be a huge problem for the conference this year, since the tight end had 4 scores in the win, but the Gator defense had trouble with Lane Kiffin’s offense. They may be feeling the losses of some stars from last season.

GEORGIA: Oh boy. If you’re a Dawg Hater, yesterday was hilarious to watch even if they got it together in the second half. It’s clear that Kirby’s got some quarterback problems if J.T. Daniels doesn’t come back healthy soon. While Stetson Bennett IV did well in relief, it remains to be seen what happens when someone can take away more of his weapons. George Pickens seems to be their best option right now, and the battle between him and Roger McCreary should be great on Saturday night.

KENTUCKY: These guys will step up and beat someone they shouldn’t this year, since those lines are very good. The defense never really got run over, but Auburn’s stars took advantage when they needed to. Offensively, we may see a couple of 300-yard rushing games from the Cats this season with the maulers they’ve got up front. Terry Wilson showed some rust, and if he can find a better rhythm passing, Kentucky could be a real thorn in the SEC East.

LSU: Wow. All offseason, there was a split between the two camps of “They’re reloading” and “You don’t lose all of that talent and come back stronger than before”. The latter camp won yesterday. Myles Brennan is no Joe Burrow, and while they didn’t have Derek Stingley in the defensive backfield, his presence alone wouldn’t have stopped 600+ passing yards. Bo Pelini got outcoached and run around by Mike Leach, and that should worry LSU for when they’ve got to play other teams with functional passing games.

MISSISSIPPI STATE: Best start of the season by anyone in the SEC. They did what it’s taken Auburn more than 20 years to do, and beat LSU in Baton Rouge. Mike Leach did it in his first game. The Bulldogs have bonafide stars at receiver, and Kylin Hill seems to have found his groove in the Air Raid offense. Defensively, they’ll struggle at times, and K.J. Costello will cost them a ballgame or two with turnovers, but that was one heck of an entrance into the league. They’ll be fun to watch this season, and annoying when you have to play them.

MISSOURI: Just not enough yet. Not enough talent or depth to compete with the upper crust of the conference. They’ll improve over the course of the year, but I don’t think they’ll rise up much from the bottom of the barrel. Their game against Vanderbilt could end up being for the last spot in the East.

OLE MISS: Lane Kiffin has returned, and the SEC is way more fun when he’s part of the show. Ole Miss put up some points against Florida yesterday, and Matt Corral showed why he’s a legit SEC quarterback. As usual, Kiffin brought out the bag of tricks and the Rebels had fun playing football, even if they ended up losing. Like MSU, they’re going to be a handful whenever they pop up on your schedule.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Will Muschamp played big dumb football again. Defensively, they weren’t terrible, but the offense has to find something outside of Shi Smith or else the better defenses will bottle him up. Mistakes ended up losing this game, with a tipped pick six and the clincher gaffe on the punt return at the end. If they clean it up, they could end up challenging for as high as third in the East with Kentucky and Tennessee.

TENNESSEE: The better of two classic-looking SEC teams in the East. Power run, play-action pass, you name it. It looked like 2003 out there, and Jeremy Pruitt’s got himself a couple of guys that can make plays. Jarrett Guarantano looked as solid as he has in quite some time, and the receiving efforts of Josh Palmer and Brandon Johnson provided a little flair to the offense. Defensively, they got gashed at times by the Gamecocks’ walk-on quarterback, but overall it wasn’t a bad outing.

TEXAS A&M: Is the shine off of Jimbo yet? If they’re not going to be able to put Vanderbilt away much earlier than they did, then the Aggies may be paying out an expensive contract much earlier than they’d like to. Kellen Mond, as a senior, should be showing much more development, and the A&M offense as a whole can’t put up 17 points at home against Vandy. Again, maybe the sample size is too small, and maybe Vanderbilt is pretty solid defensively, but there’s cause for concern in Aggieland with what happened last night.

VANDERBILT: Take a bow, Derek Mason. He had his defense ready to go, and limited Texas A&M to 17 points. Vandy had chances late to take the lead and really push the Aggies, but the offense just isn’t ready for the spotlight yet. They’ll make someone else sweat this season since the defense isn’t going to get gashed based on what we saw last night, but they have to be able to score 20+ points to win and right now that isn’t a reality.

We’ll have official Power Rankings coming out tomorrow, as well as Position Grades later today on yesterday’s win over Kentucky! Auburn takes on Georgia six days from now, War Eagle!