The SEC is the greatest conference in the land, we can all agree on that, right? After an impressive 13-1 start to the season, the season really starts this week as conference play begins with two matchups. These rankings reflect strictly on the field performances, and are as unbiased as you can imagine! Without further ado, let your new Monday Lunchtime Tradition begin.
1. (3) Alabama (1-0) (0-0) won 35-17 vs. (20) Wisconsin
The Crimson Tide looked a lot different as a team when they took the field Saturday night. New QB Jacob Coker was impressive, as was his counterpart Cooper Bateman, who saw action in the first game of the season (Alabama ran with backups at all skill positions on offense from the 3rd quarter on). Derrick Henry looked like a monster wearing the number two, rushing for nearly 150 yards and 3 TDs. The defense held a Badgers team known for running the ball to 40 yards rushing. The depth of this team is downright scary.
Next Game- vs. Middle Tennessee
2. (6) Auburn (1-0) (0-0) won 31-24 vs. Louisville
Auburn looked like the far better team in the beginning, and the defense has improved significantly in the short amount of time since new (old) DC Will Muschamp came back to the Plains. but the Cardinals' comeback is something that cannot happen as the season goes on. The defining moment of the game may have been the very first play when Louisville tried to get a little too cute. They lined up with two QBs on the field, but it only took one to throw an interception that Tray Matthews took deep into UL territory. The Auburn fanbase could get used to some defensive "Boom" moments, especially while new QB Jeremy Johnson gets more acclimated to being the starter (3 INT).
Next Game- vs. Jacksonville State
3. (17) Ole Miss won 76-3 vs. UT-Martin
As most of you know, there were quarterback competitions all over the place this offseason in the SEC. One that seemed to have a known leader and eventual winner was the one in Oxford. Chad Kelly, the Clemson transfer by way of junior college, came to the University of Mississippi with the assumption that if he could stay out of trouble he would get his chance to run this offense. Kelly had an impressive debut, throwing for over 200 yards, and adding a 20-yard rushing touchdown. He was limited in his reps, but in his time on the field he looked like an improvement over the 2014 version of Dr. Bo. And uh, Robert Nkemdiche plays both ways now, and is good at it. And fast.
Next Game- vs. Fresno State
4. (9) UGA (1-0) (0-0)won 51-14 vs. ULM
UGA dominated this game from the beginning, like they were expected to. Nick Chubb is the guy for this offense, and many already are booking his flight to the Heisman Trophy ceremony (a tad bit early if you ask me). This team is only going to go as far as Greyson Lambert takes them. SEC defenses are going to put 9 defenders in the box, and put all the pressure on the QB who played for UVA last season.
Next Game- @ Vanderbilt
5. (18) Arkansas (1-0) (0-0) won 48-13 vs. UTEP
Arkansas continues to figure out how they are going to adjust to life without Jonathan Williams in the backfield. The focal point of this offense continues to be the run game, and by the looks of things Alex Collins will get the majority of the touches - but Rawleigh Williams will earn several carries as well. Brandon Allen is one of the most under-rated passers in the entire country. If this team can get on a roll, that may change.
Next Game- vs. Toledo in Little Rock
6. Texas A&M (1-0) (0-0) won 38-17 over (15) Arizona State
Who is the QB going forward? Allen or Murray? The offense looked impressive with both, and handily defeated a "darkhorse" playoff contender in Arizona State. The defense looks revamped now that John Chavis is running things. The Aggies were able to hold the explosive Sun Devil offense to under 20 points, something they could not have dreamed of a season ago. Christian Kirk is a player to watch as the season goes on, as he was clearly the number one weapon for this Aggies offense.
Next Game- vs. Ball State
7. (14) LSU (0-0) (0-0) no game (weather)
The overall success or failure of this team depends on two things- QB play. That's something that LSU has struggled with in recent years, and the adjustments made in their first season without A&M's Chavis calling the plays on defense.
Next Game- @ Mississippi State
8. (24) Missouri (1-0) (0-0) won vs. SEMO 34-3
Missouri is in for a telling season about the direction of their program. Will they win the SEC East for the 3rd year in a row? Or has the rest of the division caught up to the Tigers? The performance of Maty Mauk will be a huge measuring stick to how good this team can be. The potential loss of Russell Hansbrough (sprained ankle) creates a dark cloud over the team as they head into week two.
Next Game- @ Arkansas State
9. (25) tennessee (1-0) (0-0) won vs. Bowling Green 59-30
Butch Jones and the Vols come into the season with some HIGH expectations... what better way to start the season then by playing a MAC school and letting them hang around for three quarters. BGSU QB Matt Johnson threw for 424 yards, and his Falcons offense ended up with over 550 total yards of offense. Not a good defensive showing for someone in the middle of a "rebrand"
Next Game- vs. Oklahoma
10. Mississippi State (1-0) (0-0) won vs. Southern Miss 34-16
After a slow start which included an early deficit, State pulled away from Southern Miss; but not before creating some questions for us to ask going forward about this team. How is this defense going to respond after losing several impact players from a year ago? Who is going to be Dak's go-to target? We will find the answers to these questions quickly, as they open up SEC play this week against an always-difficult LSU program.
Next Game- vs. LSU
11. Florida (1-0) (0-0) won vs. New Mexico State 61-13
Their two-quarterback system didn't cause any problems this past weekend, and they are reportedly going to continue that program this week. Florida showed that they have the weapons needed to compete in the SEC East. The real test for this team starts in two weeks when SEC play begins, and I am pretty sure they don't want this QB competition to drag on that long. Oh, yeah, and Vernon Hargreaves is still good.
Next Game- vs. East Carolina
12. South Carolina (1-0) (0-0) won vs. UNC 17-13
Ole Ball Coach gonna Ole Ball Coach. The fake punt seen around the world Thursday night was just the latest dive into Spurrier's bag of tricks. It became clear as the game went on that he was not fully confident iin the ability of new starting QB Connor Mitch, but as the game went on Mitch improved on both his decision making and accuracy. Skai Moore had two INT's in the end zone to save the Gamecocks the game, but this defense gave up far too many yards (440 to be exact) to consider it a victory for the defense. The turnover differential saved the day.
Next Game- vs. Kentucky
13. Kentucky (1-0) (0-0) won vs. Louisiana-Lafayette 40-33
UK ended their QB competition earlier than most of the other programs in the SEC, naming veteran Patrick Towles the starter over former top recruit Drew Barker. Boom Williams started off the 2015 season with another great performance, but this team has no excuses for blowing a 23 point lead. The Wildcats need a bowl game appearance to show the rest of the nation that UK can also be a football school. The renovations to CWS weren't made for the basketball team were they?
Next Game- @ South Carolina
14. Vanderbilt (0-1) (0-0) lost vs. Western Kentucky 14-12
I won't go too far into detail, we all know the Commodores lost. The defense looks so so so much better than it did a year ago. Shutting down one of the nation's top offenses for more than a half was very impressive. Out-gaining a team by over 100 yards (385-246) and losing is unacceptable. McCrary's legs are going to need to be used more to help keep the defenses honest, it's just a matter of him going through his progressions and making the right reads. Everyone watching (and playing, apparently) knew what the 2-pt. conversion playcall was going to be. When the opponent you don't face every year has a feel for a playcall your OC was known to call in the past, that's when you just gotta switch things up. Sorry, too much detail. I tried, tried, and tried some more to put Vanderbilt over UK, but I just couldn't do it. not yet at least.
Next Game- vs. Georgia
These power rankings are built to change significantly each week, and starting next week, it won't be only my opinions/votes! As the schedule gets more difficult, and teams start playing each other, it will become much more clear who leads the way in the SEC. 13-1 for week on was impressive, what does the conference have in mind for week two? We find out in five days. #AnchorDown