SEC football is back in all it’s glory. For some schools, football being back was awesome as they watched their teams start the 2020 campaign with a W. For some, it was fun to see their favorite programs play but disappointing to start the year off with an L. Then there were LSU fans....
The Bayou Bengals became the first defending champs to lose their season opener since 1998 when Notre Dame fell to Michigan. Turns out replacing a Heisman winner, both coordinators, most of the offensive line, top three wide receivers, top running back and the majority of defensive starters is kind of a big deal.
Also, it turns out Mike Leach and his Mississippi State Bulldogs are ready for SEC defenses.
With one data point now available there were some shakeups to this week’s rankings. Let’s take a look. Also a quick note, I decided to drop FEI because it doesn’t appear those rankings are being updated on a weekly basis.
#1.) Alabama 1-0 (—)
Last Game: 38-19 W @ Missouri
I admit that I watched exactly 2 snaps of this game so I don’t have much to offer in the form of analysis. It appears the Crimson Tide took care of business and then cruised to the finish line. Najee Harris scored three touchdowns, Mac Jones was efficient and Jaylen Waddle is still impossible to cover. Not sure there’s a ton to takeaway from this game for either team except that the Tide aren’t going to be surprisingly bad. We will learn more this weekend when the Aggies come to town.
Next Game: vs Texas A&M
#2.) Georgia 1-0 (—)
SP+: 4 | FPI: 6
Last Game: 37-10 W @ Arkansas
Per 247 Composite, there are sixteen former 5-star recruits on Georgia’s 2020 football roster. That’s the most of any program. More than Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson. It’s more than Auburn, Florida, Texas A&M and Tennessee combined. They opened the season with a road trip to Fayetteville to take on a Hog program stuck in the mud. A program with only four more 4-star players than UGA 5-stars.
Hilariously, Arkansas took a 7-5 lead into halftime. Redshirt D’Wan Mathis did not look ready for collegiate football and it took the insertion of walk-on Stetson Bennett for the Dawgs to finally take care of business. The offensive line did not look it’s former dominant self either. The biggest question facing UGA heading into 2020 was whether or not this offense could take the next step. So far, it ain’t looking good....
But it might not matter. After allowing a 7 play 91 yard touchdown drive, UGA’s defense allowed only a field goal while picking off Franks three times including taking one back for six points. That’s why I still have them in the #2 spot over the Gators. This offense might not be great again but this defense is good enough to prevent a total meltdown. This weekend will tell us a lot about what this Dawg team is capable of accomplishing this fall.
Next Game: vs Auburn
#3.) Florida 1-0 (—)
SP+: 8 | FPI: 9
Last Game: 51-35 W @ Ole Miss
The University of Florida Fighting Kyles lit up the scoreboard in Oxford over the weekend. Kyle Trask threw for 416 yds and SIX touchdowns Saturday. WR/TE/Freak Kyle Pitts caught 8 of those passes for 170 yards and 4 touchdowns. Needless to say, Ole Miss fans won’t be naming any kids Kyle in the near future.
But while the offense was spectacular, that Gator defense had some serious struggles. I expected Ole Miss to put some points on the board but I didn’t see 600+ yards coming. The main concern I had about this UF team heading into 2020 was whether or not this defense was good enough to slow folks down. As of now, that question remains unanswered. It will be interesting to see how they look against an ok South Carolina team this weekend.
Next Game: vs South Carolina
#4.) Auburn 1-0 (+1)
SP+: 6 | FPI: 7
Last Game 29-13 W vs Kentucky
Auburn had the 2nd best win of the weekend taking down a veteran, physical Kentucky squad. The Wildcats controlled the first half for the most part but the Tigers dominated the 2nd half and were able to come away with a somewhat comfortable win.
Bo Nix looked good in his 2020 debut and Seth Williams is gonna be a problem for a lot of defenses this fall. Defensively, Auburn got knocked around early but settled down in the 2nd half. The big question is still the offensive line which performed admirably in their season debut but must improve if the Tigers are going to end that awful drought in Athens on Saturday.
Next Game: @ Georgia
#5.) Mississippi State 1-0 (+7)
SP+: 38 | FPI: 35
Last Game: 44-34 W @ LSU
Ok so I got a lot of apologizing to do to State fans. I thought this State team would be pretty bad this year. Sure Leach added an outstanding grad transfer at QB in K.J. Costello over the off-season but cmon... This Mississippi State team isn’t exactly overflowing with talent especially at the skill position (sans Kylin Hill). And that defense lost some major contributors and are switching to a brand new scheme. They will be luck to win 3 games I thought...
Turns out this team is ready to create mayhem in the SEC. Costello carved up that vaunted DBU secondary and if he hadn’t kept turning the ball over this game might have been a legit blowout. Costello set the single game SEC passing record throwing for 623 yards and 5 touchdowns. Three State players crossed the century mark including star tailback Kylin Hill.
I don’t know how this season goes for Mississippi State but it’s definitely going to go much better than I expected. Gotta give an immense amount of credit to Leach and his coaching staff. They came out ready to go and made a massive statement this past weekend.
Next Game: vs Arkansas
#6.) Tennessee 1-0 (+1)
SP+: 24 | FPI: 30
Last Game: 31-27 W @ South Carolina
I picked Tennessee to lose this game but the Vols were able to make less mistakes than the Cocks and a few more big plays to escape with the W. It wasn’t necessarily an impressive performance but it was effective. The Dawgs look vulnerable and Tennessee has more talent than Kentucky. Can Jeremy Pruitt capitalize and make that final game of the year against UF the de facto SEC East championship?
Next Game: vs Missouri
#7.) Texas A&M 1-0 (-1)
SP+: 19 | FPI: 19
Last Game: 17-12 W vs Vanderbilt
Technically, Texas A&M won Saturday. But if anyone ventured over to the SEC Alternate channel to watch this cluster of a game, you probably didn’t come away super impressed with the supposed top challenger to the Tide in the West.
Turns out Kellen Mond is still Kellen Mond. That offensive line is still pretty bad and losing all that WR production is not easily replaced. I don’t think things are going to go well in Tuscaloosa this weekend....
Next Game: @ Alabama
#8.) Kentucky 0-1 (—)
SP+: 43 | FPI: 27
Last Game: 13-29 L @ Auburn
For one half of football, it looked like the Wildcats had a shot at living up to the preseason hype. Maybe this is the year they could go on the road into an SEC West venue against a ranked opponent and get the W. Then the 2nd half kicked off...
A disastrous 4th quarter resulted in a frustrating L for Big Blue Nation and they don’t get to lick their wounds. An explosive Rebel attack is set to visit Lexington and if Terry Wilson doesn’t get those turnovers cleaned up they could very well be 0-2 this time next week. I still think though this is top 3 team in the SEC East. We will see if they can get right against the Lane Train.
Next Game: vs Ole Miss
#9.) LSU 0-1 (-5)
SP+: 25 | FPI: 13
Last Game: 34-44 L vs Mississippi State
Turns out you can’t just easily replace literally your whole organization following a national championship. Weird huh?
It didn’t take long for LSU fans to learn that the Myles Brennan and Bo Pelini hype ain’t for real. The Tigers new QB struggled much of the day and wasn’t helped by drops and a porous offensive line. Pelini refused to switch out of his man defense and allowed Mike Leach to put on a clinic on how to beat it over and over again. There are some serious problems on this LSU team and I don’t know if they can all get fixed in the coming weeks.
Fortunately, a trip to play a not very good Vanderbilt team should get Ed O back to .500. However, if LSU wants any shot at a repeat they gotta find a way to adjust to this new world.
Next Game: @ Vanderbilt
#10.) Ole Miss 0-1 (-1)
SP+: 44 | FPI: 37
Last Game: 35-51 L vs Florida
I honestly didn’t wanna move Ole Miss down a spot it just kinda happened. The Rebels showed they are exactly who I thought they were over the weekend. An explosive but inconsistent offense paired with a very bad defense. The Rebels are going to give DCs around the SEC headaches but they are going to need some stops on the other side of the ball if they wanna string together any Ws. Big opportunity to make a statement this weekend against a frustrated Kentucky team.
Next Game: @ Kentucky
#11.) South Carolina 0-1 (—)
SP+: 34 | FPI: 40
Last Game: 27-31 L vs Tennessee
South Carolina has mastered losing to Tennessee in frustrating fashion. They fought to the bitter end but a punt off the backside of a blocker ended any opportunity of a dramatic finish. Offensively, South Carolina looked ok. It’s clear outside of Shi Smith this team is lacking in terms of play makers. This Saturday is a must win for Coach Boom.
Next Game: @ Missouri
#12.) Missouri 0-1 (-2)
SP+: 48 | FPI: 42
Last Game: 19-38 L vs Alabama
As I said above, I didn’t really watch this game so I got nothing really to say about this Mizzou squad other than they covered and that’s all that really mattered.
Next Game: @ Tennessee
#13.) Vanderbilt 0-1 (+1)
SP+: 110 | FPI: 68
Last Game: 12-17 L @ Texas A&M
They did their darndest to pull the stunner but then they are also Vanderbilt so of course it didn’t happen. I was impressed overall with the Dores performance though and rewarded them with what will likely be their highest ranking of the season. No way LSU loses this game too right?
Next Game: vs LSU
#14.) Arkansas 0-1 (-1)
SP+: 75 | FPI: 59
Last Game: 10-37 L vs Georgia
For one half of football, Arkansas stood toe to toe with one of the giants of the SEC. Hog fans rejoiced that maybe just maybe Sam Pittman was going to do the impossible. Then reality hit like a train in the 2nd half...
Outside of a few skill players on offense and the best named linebacker in the country in Bumper Pool, this program is devoid of SEC caliber talent. Feleipe Franks is still not a great quarterback. With Mississippi State not being the dumpser fire as hoped, I am not sure there’s a W on this schedule for the Hogs....
Next Game: @ Mississippi State