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Around the SEC: Week 1

Mike Leach’s debut was a smashing success.

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday saw the debuts of four new SEC head coaches. All four came into Saturday as heavy underdogs, and three of them predictably lost.

And then there was new Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach. The veteran of 18 years at Texas Tech and Washington State, in his first game with the Bulldogs, piloted a 44-34 win over defending national champion LSU. The easiest explanation is that State, as expected, threw the ball all over the field behind new quarterback K.J. Costello. As for LSU, well, they probably have more issues than their preseason No. 6 ranking let on.

Up in Oxford, Lane Kiffin debuted with a 51-35 loss to Florida; the Gators looked outstanding on the offensive side of the ball, though Ole Miss put up some big numbers of its own.

First-year Missouri head coach Eliah Drinkwitz predictably took a drubbing from Alabama in his debut; the final score of 38-19 doesn’t really reflect how not-close that game was, with Missouri scoring a couple of late touchdowns to cut into the final margin. Still, Missouri fans are optimistic looking forward.

As for Sam Pittman, Arkansas fans were just happy to see a pulse in a 37-10 loss to Georgia, which Arkansas somehow led 7-5 at halftime. Yep, you’re reading that right. Georgia still needs to find a quarterback.

College and Magnolia was impressed by Auburn’s debut, a 29-13 win over Kentucky, at least in comparison to what was going on in the rest of the league. Kentucky saw some bright spots on offense, though also questionable quarterback play.

And finally, Tennessee clinched a 31-27 win over South Carolina thanks to an, uh, unfortunate punt bounce. Tennessee needs more consistency out of Jarrett Guarantano, which seems like a big ask.

This week’s schedule

(All games on Saturday. Times listed are Central.)

South Carolina at Florida, 11:00 AM, ESPN

Missouri at Tennessee, 11:00 AM, SEC Network

Texas A&M at Alabama, 2:30 PM, CBS

Ole Miss at Kentucky, 3:00 PM, SEC Network

Auburn at Georgia, 6:30 PM, ESPN

LSU at Vanderbilt, 6:30 PM, SEC Network

Arkansas at Mississippi State, 6:30 PM, SEC Network Alternate