After some around the nation were ready to abolish the SEC following a shaky first week, teams settled in a bit in Week 2 and posted a perfect out-of-conference mark.
We’re starting to get a little bit better of a feel for some of these teams, but we’re definitely still in that early portion of the season where one game can be misleading. When in doubt, we go with the what we’ve seen on the field so far – not necessarily how good a team is supposed to be.
1. Alabama: Nick Saban freaked out on Lane Kiffin and then on the entire team when speaking to the media after the game, calling Bama’s 38-10 win one of the worst performances he’d ever seen. While the Tide certainly weren’t at their best, that’s also certainly some hyperbole from Saban. Alabama remains easily on top this week, but now faces a tough test against Ole Miss.
2. Texas A&M: So far, so good. The Aggies knocked off a ranked UCLA team in Week 1 and then pounded Prairie View A&M 67-0 this past week. In a year that’s seen several shaky performances against lower-level teams, credit the Aggies for staying focused. We’ll find out more in their SEC opener against Auburn this week.
3. Arkansas: Too high? Maybe. But I’m going based on what I’ve seen, and what I saw on Saturday was the best overall win in the SEC so far (in terms of rank of opponent) from the Hogs. And it happened on the road. Arkansas was shaky in a Week 1 win against Louisiana Tech, but Bret Bielema’s teams generally get better over the course of the season. So if they’re beating TCU on the road in Week 2, I don’t think it’s insane to discuss them being an SEC contender, though we certainly need to see more.
T-4. Tennessee and Georgia: These teams have essentially identical bodies of work so far. Both have a neutral-site win over an ACC team and a less-than-impressive victory over a non-Power 5 school. UGA’s victory over an ACC team (North Carolina) was a bit more impressive in terms of quality of opponent, but that struggle-fest against Nicholls State was worse overall than UT’s opener against Appalachian State.
6. Ole Miss: There wasn’t much to be gleaned from a 38-13 win over Wofford on Saturday. We know the Rebels are talented, and we’re not going to judge them too much for their loss to FSU in the opener. The Seminoles are national title contenders, and now Ole Miss gets another crack at a title contender in Alabama this week. Can Ole Miss make it three straight against the Tide? The Rebels will certainly fly up the power rankings if they can.
7. LSU: The Tigers survived a week without Leonard Fournette (ankle), and got some decent quarterback play from backup Danny Etling – who is now pushing Brandon Harris for the starting job – in a 34-13 win over Jacksonville State. It’s tough to get a feel for this team until we see a bit more.
8. Florida: The Gators were sloppy in their opener, but rolled over Kentucky 45-7 on Saturday. How much of that is because UK might be the worst team in the league? That’s a fair question. Southern Miss, after all, lit up the Wildcats in Week 1, so it’s hard to give Florida too much credit. But the Gators did take care of business, showed a stingy defense and some life on offense. They’re two weeks away from coming to Knoxville and getting a chance to show that they can contend to repeat in the East.
9 Auburn: Gus Malzahn settled it down a bit, rolled with one quarterback in Sean White and the Tigers were clicking against his former program, Arkansas State, in a comfortable 51-14 victory. They have a huge opportunity against Texas A&M this week. This team might not be as bad as some people thought it would.
10. Missouri: I don’t care if it was against Eastern Michigan – Missouri got 450 passing yards from Drew Lock. That’s a great sign for an offense that couldn’t move the ball against anybody last year.
11. Mississippi State: Dan Mullen and Co. bounced back from a humiliating loss in the opener to South Alabama to knock off South Carolina on Saturday. Quietly, quarterback Nick Fitzgerald had one of the best games in the conference, setting a school record for QB rushing yards (195) and adding 178 yards through the air. He might not be Dak Prescott, but if the Bulldogs can get production like that from their QB, they’ll have a fighting chance this year.
12. South Carolina: You didn’t really think Will Muschamp was going to start off his South Carolina career with two SEC wins, did you? The Gamecocks couldn’t follow up their win over Vandy with a victory in Starkville. On the upside, freshman quarterback Brandon McIllwain played well in the second half. If it were up to me, I’d turn the offense over to him going forward.
13. Vanderbilt: Running back Ralph Webb (211 yards against MTSU) is a stud. Credit the Commodores for bouncing back with a victory against a solid MTSU squad, but I can’t move them any higher than 13th for now because of the opening-week loss to SC.
14. Kentucky: The gig appears to be up for Mark Stoops in Lexington. It’s not that a ton of people were expecting a win in Gainesville, but it was fair to think that the Wildcats could be remotely competitive. This is astonishing: Since taking a 35-10 lead over Southern Miss in Week 1, the Wildcats have been outscored by a combined total of 79-7. Ouch.