For 13 of the 14 teams in the Southeastern Conference, football season starts this week — Thursday for Texas A&M, Saturday for everybody else.
Except for Florida. You just had to go and be different, didn’t you?
Florida 24, Miami 20
The first FBS college football game of the season was a very easy argument for why teams should just go ahead and wait the extra week. Both teams looked completely out of sync for most of the night, which makes it... difficult to draw sweeping conclusions.
The game started inauspiciously for the Gators. Miami drove the ball 56 yards in nine plays on the game’s opening possession, but Florida’s defense was able to hold the Hurricanes to a field goal. Then, it looked like Miami would force a three-and-out on the Gators’ first possession, but Florida’s Tommy Townsend gained a first down on a ballsy fake punt call, setting up a 66-yard score on the next play.
After that, though, the game got sloppy. Miami actually had a 306-304 advantage in total yards, though the Hurricanes ran 66 plays to the Gators’ 54; Florida appeared to have a distinct advantage for most of the game, but the Gators’ four turnovers seemed to keep Miami in it — only for Miami to give the game right back with mistakes of their own, like a shanked 27-yard field goal attempt or being penalized 14 times for 125 yards. Then again, Florida was also bailing Miami out with penalties of their own.
All in all, this was a very stupid game, and one that didn’t really dissuade me from my hunch that Florida isn’t really a top 10 team — but still, they’re 1-0, and that’s more than you can say for the other 13 teams in the conference.
Of course, the one interesting thing to come out of fall camp is the position battles and how those are resolved. But quarterbacks are the only ones we really care about.
Eight SEC schools returned their starting quarterback from last season, and none of those seemed to get a serious challenge for the starting job. Neither did Kelly Bryant (Missouri) or Matt Corral (Ole Miss), in spite of them not being those teams’ starter last season.
That left four teams having an open competition. Auburn named true freshman Bo Nix as its starter last week. Mississippi State named Penn State graduate transfer Tommy Stevens as its starter, which led to Keytaon Thompson transferring. And finally, Arkansas named SMU graduate transfer Ben Hicks as its starter today.
That, of course, leaves Vanderbilt as the one school in the conference that hasn’t named a starter yet.