College football came back this weekend (okay, unofficially, it came back last weekend, but no SEC teams were playing), and after a weekend of games, it’s time for narratives and hot takes.
You can go ahead and pencil Alabama and Georgia into the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.
Well, okay, no. But that’s the narrative after Alabama destroyed Miami by a 44-13 score (and that actually understates the Tide’s dominance) while Georgia held Clemson to 3 points. Yeah, that was a thing that happened on Saturday night, go look it up.
Except that remember, this is Week 1. It’s entirely possible that blowing out Miami will end up being not a big deal; the Hurricanes came into the game ranked 14th, but we all know that preseason rankings aren’t always the most accurate. That could end up just being a blowout of a Mississippi State-level team. As for Georgia, well, do they actually have an offense? The Bulldogs didn’t score a single offensive touchdown on Clemson — the deciding score was a 74-yard interception return touchdown — and they managed 256 yards of total offense. The defense, of course, is legit, but will the offense be able to score enough to win when the defense isn’t completely shutting the other team down?
With that said, Georgia is probably more of a lock to make it to Atlanta than Alabama is, if only because Georgia doesn’t have a real challenger in the East. Florida might already have a quarterback controversy on its hands after Emory Jones struggled in Week 1 and redshirt freshman Anthony Richardson unleashed an electrifying touchdown run in garbage time of a 35-14 win over Florida Atlantic. In the West, Texas A&M’s defense did what it was supposed to in a 41-10 win over Kent State, though new quarterback Haynes King did throw three interceptions. (Ole Miss, which plays Louisville tonight, is TBD.)
Who’s not going to be a contender in the West: LSU. The Tigers went into Pasadena and could just never find a rhythm in a 38-27 loss to UCLA. LSU having 49 rushing yards on 25 attempts is certainly a thing that happened.
The rest of the SEC not named Vanderbilt mostly took care of business against Week 1 opponents who probably aren’t any good. The exceptions: Tennessee (which beat Bowling Green 38-6, sure, but didn’t look good in doing so); Arkansas (which didn’t really put away Rice until late in a 38-17 win); Missouri (which beat a Central Michigan team that’s probably actually pretty good for a MAC team by a 34-24 score); and MIssissippi State (which needed three fourth-quarter touchdowns to beat Louisiana Tech 35-34.) That said, I’m not really taking much away from any of the Week 1 blowouts against bad teams. You did what you were supposed to, fine. There’s something you can read into Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi State not looking good against those teams, sure, but I’m not about to think South Carolina is better than I thought they were in the preseason because they beat Eastern Illinois 46-0.
Vanderbilt Opponent Watch
LOL two of Vanderbilt’s three remaining nonconference opponents lost to FCS teams: Colorado State got drilled, 42-23, by South Dakota State — who, granted, is a Top 5 team in FCS, but uh, you still probably shouldn’t be losing to them by three touchdowns. And UConn lost 38-28 to Holy Cross, leading to Randy Edsall announcing his retirement at the end of the season. We still might win a game!
Meanwhile, Vanderbilt’s other remaining nonconference opponent, Stanford, lost 24-7 to Kansas State, and the offense was about as bad as that score makes it look. Maybe even worse.
Yeah, Ed Orgeron is very much on the hot seat at LSU. I mean, to follow up last year’s shoddy performance with that is going to have people calling for your job.
But this offseason still looks likely to be quiet on the SEC coaching front; Orgeron might get fired and that’s really it. Everybody else is either too new (eight coaches are in their first or second year at their school) or too good (no, Saban, Kirby, and Jimbo are not going anywhere) to even think about it. And the bottom would really have to fall out for Dan Mullen or Mark Stoops for them to be gone after this season, and early indications are that that’s not the case for either of them.
South Carolina (+2) at East Carolina: well, it looks like Vegas is not reacting at all to South Carolina’s blowout win over Eastern Illinois, and neither should you.
Pitt (-2) at Tennessee: a bit surprised by this. Pitt blew out UMass in Week 1, so maybe Vegas is spooked by Tennessee’s performance against Bowling Green.
Florida (-29) at South Florida: South Florida sucks out loud, as shown by a 45-0 loss to NC State in the season opener.
UAB (+26) at Georgia: That actually seems a little low, but if you’re a nonbeliever in Georgia’s offense it’s easy to see how you’d think they would win this by something like 21-0.
Texas A&M (-17) at Colorado: This one is technically a neutral-site game at Mile High Stadium in Denver. This sounds about right: Colorado beat Northern Colorado 35-7 in the opener; Colorado is also coached by Karl Dorrell.
Texas (-6) at Arkansas: Texas basically defined “taking care of business” in a 38-18 win over UL Lafayette in the opener. This line seems suspiciously low.
NC State (-2.5) at Mississippi State: lol wut
Missouri (+5) at Kentucky: I see these teams as basically even, so this is a little high for me.
Vanderbilt (+6.5) at Colorado State: Some sportsbook opened this as a 1-point line, and it’s moved to 6.5. Clearly bettors are fading the Commodores more than they’re fading Colorado State.