There were no mysteries in the Southeastern Conference Saturday. Only the South Carolina-East Carolina game was competitive into the fourth quarter and most were decided by halftime. The seven ranked teams that played won their games by a combined score of 352-63. Three defenses – Alabama, LSU and Florida – pitched shutouts while Ole Miss, Kentucky, Arkansas and Texas A&M held their opponents to fewer than 10 points.
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama: His two-game totals are 25 catches for 319 yards. Saturday he tied the school record for catches in a game (13), good for 189 yards and a touchdown.
Andre Debose, PR, Florida: He had four punt returns for 97 yards including a 55-yarder that is highlight reel material. We’ve always known Debose has the speed. Saturday he showed he has the moves, too.
South Carolina offensive line in the fourth quarter: Leading only 30-23, Steve Spurrier turned the game over to his offensive line and they delivered by controlling the line of scrimmage for an 18-play, 86-yard drive that ate up 10:33 off the clock.
Speedy Noil, WR/KR/PR, Texas A&M: He caught four passes for 71 yards, ran a punt back 67 yards and returned a kickoff 53 yards. He might be a freshman but he’s one of the two or three most dangerous players in the SEC.
South Carolina pass rush: Until the Gamecocks figure a way to get some pressure on the quarterback they’re going to give up tons of passing yards.
Vanderbilt offense: What Vanderbilt’s offense the first two games tells us is that the honeymoon of the last three years is officially over and the Commodores are back to holding up the bottom of the SEC.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have the talent to factor in the SEC West race, but when you give up passing touchdowns of 88, 81 and 75 yards you have to wonder where their focus is.
Missouri defense: The Tigers gave up 148 yards to the Toledo tailback and 408 yards overall. The Tigers can bring the heat from the edge with ends Shane Ray and Markus Golden but they are soft up the middle so far.
Justin Worley, QB, Tennessee: He certainly looks better than he did last year but he hasn’t faced a decent defense yet. If he’s making good decisions and putting the ball where it needs to be next week against Oklahoma, then he’s for real but for now, the jury is still out.
#2 Alabama (2-0) 41, Florida Atlantic 0: Florida Atlantic got $1 million to serve as token opposition while it tinkered with its offense. Blake Sims played the first quarter and one series in the third, long enough to go 11-13 for 165 yards and two touchdowns while running three times for 14 more and another score. Jacob Coker played enough (15-24, 202 yards, 1 touchdown) to look like a backup. Whoever throws it, Amari Cooper will catch it. He is uncoverable. In two games, he has 25 catches for 316 yards and a touchdown including 13-189 Saturday. FAU managed only 143 total yards against a defense that had Trey DePriest back in the middle. Bama had 416 passing yards and 204 running the ball.
Alabama game two grade: A
Next week: Southern Miss
Arkansas (1-1, 0-1 SEC) 73, Nicholls State 7: The good news is the 10-game losing streak is finally over. The bad news is that now the Razorbacks have to start playing real teams and they’re still not that good. But, for one week, at least, they didn’t have to drive home losers. Nicholls State, which holds up the bottom of the D1AA Southland Conference, offered token resistance as the Hogs averaged 12.4 yards per carry, helped out by a 90-yard scoring run from Jonathan Williams and an 82-yard scoring run from Keon Hatcher. Quarterback Brandon Allen threw touchdown passes of 38 and 22 yards.
Arkansas game two grade: B
Next week: at Texas Tech
#5 Auburn (2-0, 1-0 SEC) 59, San Jose State 13: Gus Malzahn will be grousing about the offense even though the Tigers ran for 355 yards against San Jose State. The Tigers fumbled the ball away twice and the passing game was anything but sharp. Cameron Artis-Payne ran for 112 yards and three touchdowns while quarterback Nick Marshall passed for 101 yards and one touchdown and ran for 102 yards and one more score. Auburn’s defense got to the quarterback three times, picked off three passes and forced a fumble.
Auburn game two grade: B
Next week: at Kansas State (Thursday)
Kentucky (2-0) 20, Ohio U 3: Kentucky is 2-0 to start the season for the first time since 2011 when Joker Phillips was the head coach, which is a step in the right direction. The Wildcats scored touchdowns on their first two possessions Saturday but were held to two field goals the rest of the way. Patrick Towles who lit up UT-Martin last week, wasn’t nearly as effective against Ohio U. He was 17-31 for a touchdown but he averaged only 5.5 yards per pass attempt. The Wildcats controlled the game on the ground, rushing for 232 yards and holding onto the ball for 38:26. Kentucky travels to Florida next week, a team the Wildcats haven’t beaten since 1986.
Kentucky game two grade: B-
Next week: at Florida
#12 LSU (2-0) 56, Sam Houston State 0: There’s not much to read into this one. The Tigers got an easy win over an outclassed D1AA team. Freshman stud Leonard Fournette ran for 92 yards and a touchdown while breaking off a 40-yard run plus he caught two passes for 32 yards and a touchdown. Anthony Jennings probably solidified the #1 quarterback job with three touchdown passes and 43 yards rushing, but Brandon Harris looked good with a touchdown pass and a 46-yard run for a touchdown. The defense sacked the SHSU quarterbacks six times while turning the Bearkats over three times.
LSU game two grade: B+
Next week: Louisiana-Monroe
Mississippi State (2-0) 47, UAB 34: Dan Mullen had to be frustrated with the overall effort. Mississippi State got the win but the Bulldogs looked like an overconfident team on both sides of the ball and on special teams where they blew two extra points. The defense, which is supposed to be the strongpoint for MSU, allowed 435 passing yards and touchdown passes of 88, 81 and 75 yards. Quarterback Dak Prescott had his second straight game with four touchdown passes. In addition to his 211 passing yards, Prescott ran for 111 and one touchdown.
Mississippi State game two grade: C-
Next week: at South Alabama
#24 Missouri (2-0) 49, Toledo 21: It was homecoming for Gary Pinkel, who is the winningest coach in school history at both Mizzou and Toledo. Maty Mauk threw for 325 yards and five touchdowns, but he threw two really bad interceptions. Other than a pass rush that got to Toledo quarterbacks for three sacks and -31 yards in losses (two by Shane Ray, one by Markus Golden), there wasn’t much to like about Missouri’s defense, which gave up 408 yards and allowed the Toledo tailback to gain 148.
Missouri game two grade: B
Next week: UCF
#15 Ole Miss (2-0, 1-0 SEC) 41, Vanderbilt (0-2, 0-1 SEC) 3: The good news for Vanderbilt is the Commodores only turned the ball over one time after a seven turnover disaster last week. The bad news is even though they held onto the ball, they still couldn’t get a touchdown and managed only 167 total yards. Bo Wallace threw for 320 yards and a touchdown for Ole Miss, which finished with 547 total yards. The Ole Miss defense gave up only 3.3 yards per play while holding Vanderbilt to just 60 passing yards.
Ole Miss game two grade: A
Next week: Louisiana-Lafayette at Ole Miss
Next week: UMass at Vanderbilt
#9 South Carolina (1-1, 0-1 SEC) 33, East Carolina 23: Steve Spurrier got his 200th win as an SEC coach – only Bear Bryant and Vince Dooley have more – thanks, in part, to an 18-play 86-yard drive that chewed 10:33 off the clock. The Gamecocks struggled once again in pass defense. A week after giving up 511 yards through the air to Texas A&M, the Gamecocks gave up 330 to ECU and were outgained overall, 458-429. For the second straight game, the Gamecocks generated very little pass rush (zero sacks). The bright spot offensively was Mike Davis who ran for two touchdowns and 107 yards.
South Carolina game two grade: C
Next week: #6 Georgia
#Tennessee (2-0) 34, Arkansas State 19: The Vols are 2-0 with both wins against teams that went bowling last year. Now life gets significantly more difficult. Tennessee gets #4 Oklahoma next week, but until that reality sets in, Vol fans can be happy that (a) the defense is better than it was last year and (b) Justin Worley doesn’t look like a deer in the headlights under center. He threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns. The Tennessee defense allowed only 4-17 conversions on third down.
Tennessee game two grade: B-
Next week: at #4 Oklahoma
#9 Texas A&M (2-0, 1-0 SEC) 73, Lamar 3: Kenny Hill didn’t let the first week hype go to his head. He picked up where he left off, completing 17-26 passes for 283 yards and four touchdowns. Backup Kyle Allen threw for 122 yards and two touchdowns. Eleven different Aggie receivers caught passes and six caught a pass for a touchdown. The Aggies racked up 630 yards of offense, 405 passing and 225 on the ground.
Texas A&M game two grade: A-
Next week: Rice
Somebody give the Big Ten a hug. No conference needs one more after a Saturday night in which its three marquee teams – #7 Michigan State, #8 Ohio State and Michigan – all bit the bullet on national television. In a game the Big Ten desperately needed to win, #3 Oregon scored the final 28 points to take a 46-27 win. Unranked Virginia Tech knocked off Ohio State, sacking J.T. Barrett seven times and picking off three passes. Without Braxton Miller, the Buckeyes are ordinary. Unranked Michigan at least needed to make a game of it against Notre Dame, but the Wolverines played so poorly that Brady Hoke’s already very warm seat is feeling rather toasty. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Northwestern and Purdue got taken out by MAC teams while Penn State and Iowa struggled against MAC opponents. Illinois needed a 21-point fourth quarter to get a win over Western Kentucky from the Sun Belt and Nebraska needed a touchdown on a 58-yard pass with 58 seconds left in the game to squeeze by D1AA McNeese State. There are only four spots available for college football’s first Division I playoff. Unless the conference can stage one of the more dramatic comebacks in history, you can bet the farm one of the four teams won’t be from the Big Ten.
The former Alabama quarterback was the color analyst for the Texas A&M-Lamar game Saturday night. He tries hard. Too hard in fact. Between plays he over-analyzes and really doesn’t know when to shut up. His anecdotes aren’t exactly knee slappers either although he tries very hard to be funny.
#14 Southern Cal got past #13 Stanford on the road in the Pac-12 on a 53-yard field goal by Andrew Heidari with 2:30 left in the game ... Washington of the Pac-12 gave up seven touchdown passes to Vernon Adams Jr. but still managed to beat Eastern Washington, 59-52 ... No Bryce Petty no problem for #10 Baylor. Backup Seth Russell threw for 438 yards and five touchdowns while Petty sat out with an injury ... Florida State gave up 250 rushing yards to D1AA The Citadel ... #23 North Carolina scored the last 10 points to pull out a 31-27 win over San Diego State ... Former Gator Jacoby Brissett threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 45 yards in North Carolina State’s 46-34 win over Old Dominion ... Former Gator tight end Gerald Christian caught three passes for 32 yards and a touchdown in Louisville’s 66-21 win over Murray State ... Minus three starting offensive linemen (two suspensions, one broken ankle) and starting quarterback David Ash (concussion), Texas got hosed by BYU, 41-7 ... South Florida gave up 10 fourth quarter points and lost to Maryland, 24-17.