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Week Two SEC Recap

By Matt Smith
SouthernPigskin.com
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Looking back at week two in the SEC.

Scores

(18) Mississippi State 31, Kansas State 10

Vanderbilt 41, Nevada 10

(3) Georgia 41, (24) South Carolina 17

(1) Alabama 57, Arkansas State 7

Tennessee 59, East Tennessee State 3

Ole Miss 76, Southern Illinois 41

(2) Clemson 28, Texas A&M 26

(11) LSU 31, Southeastern Louisiana 0

Missouri 40, Wyoming 13

Colorado State 34, Arkansas 27

Kentucky 27, Florida 16

(7) Auburn 63, Alabama State 9

 

10 Things I Learned

-Mississippi State’s line play is everything we thought it could be, and perhaps more. The defensive line is loaded with NFL talent, but the offensive line has been dominant in the Bulldogs’ first two wins. Kansas State had no answer for Nick Fitzgerald and Kylin Hill on the ground. While the Bullies will face much more stout defenses than what the Wildcats presented, there aren’t many teams that can match Mississippi State in the trenches. The trip to Kentucky in two weeks looks a little more dangerous now, but it would be a major disappointment if this team isn’t 5-0 when Auburn rolls into Starkville in early October.

-Where did Kylin Hill come from? Aeris Williams was Mississippi State’s top returning rusher with over 1,100 yards, while Hill failed to reach 400 yards last year as a freshman. Under Joe Moorhead, however, Hill has usurped the No. 1 back role, now averaging over 10 yards per carry on 26 totes in two games. He has five total touchdowns as well. Hill is a local product from the Golden Triangle era of eastern Mississippi, and the sophomore looks like one of the SEC’s best running backs.

-I’m still holding on Vanderbilt being a different team than in 2017. Save some early red-zone issues, the Commodores were again impressive in their rout of Nevada. However, this looks eerily similar to last September when Vanderbilt started 3-0 and was then trounced by Alabama, 59-0. Notre Dame isn’t Alabama, but next week’s trip to South Bend could be a humbling one for the ‘Dores. The Fighting Irish did the bare minimum on Saturday to get by Ball State, but next week’s game plan won’t be quite as disrespectful to the opponent. It’s a great litmus test for Vanderbilt to see if this year will be different than last.

-Jimbo Fisher made the right decision. On multiple accounts. To leave Florida State for Texas A&M? Absolutely. To start Kellen Mond over Nick Starkel? That has to be a resounding yes after Mond threw for 430 yards against Clemson’s defense. The sophomore was poised, accurate, efficient and unflappable, and probably deserved to win the game if it weren’t for too many chunk plays allowed by the Aggies defense and some unfavorable whistles.

-Speaking of officiating, the turnover on a fumble through the end zone rule has to go away. Make it down at the spot of the fumble. Make it a loss of down penalty. Make it 1st and 10 at the 20-yard line. Whatever. The bottom line is it should not be a change of possession. The penalty does not match the infraction, and while it didn’t cost Texas A&M a win over Clemson, it did significantly harm their chances to steal a victory.

-One more thought on officiating. Why are egregious offensive pass interference fouls ignored? The offense already has an increasing advantage in modern football, yet officials routinely ignore obvious push-offs by wide receivers, as Clemson’s Tee Higgins blatantly did in a crucial moment late in the third quarter on Saturday night. This has been a repeated miss early on in this college football season, and it is inexcusable. With as frequently as defensive pass interference is called these days, it has to be a two-way street.

-I was wrong about Terry Wilson. I thought the Kentucky quarterback was a threat with his feet, but I did not think the Wildcats offense could be multi-dimensional with him on the field. On Saturday night, it was, and Wilson led the team to its biggest win since upsetting No. 1 LSU in 2007 with its first win over Florida since 1986. Wilson will never be a 65 percent passer over the course of a season, but he showed he can throw on the run on a lovely 33-yard touchdown pass to David Bouvier to put Kentucky ahead early. He later added a rushing touchdown and a second passing score, with only one major mistake coming on a second-quarter interception.

-Speed kills. OK, I didn’t just learn that on Saturday, but I did learn that there is no one in the SEC East who can overcome the speed deficit against Georgia. The Bulldogs simply have too many playmakers at the skill positions. Even fundamentally sound plays can go awry because Georgia is simply too fast. With continued steady quarterback play from Jake Fromm, there is no chance of Georgia losing more than one game before the SEC Championship Game. The defense still doesn’t quite have the depth to overcome a wrath of injuries like Alabama did a year ago, but any criticism of Georgia has to be considered nitpicky after two dominant performances to start the season.

-What do we make of Florida after Saturday’s streak-ending stinker? Running back Adarius Lemons announced on Twitter about 30 minutes after the game ended that he was transferring. If that’s not a sign of a shaky locker room, I don’t know what is. Expectations are sky-high in Gainesville, and just rallying to finish 8-5 won’t make Dan Mullen any friends at Florida like it did at Mississippi State. The upcoming schedule allows for an opportunity to right the ship, but a loss to Tennessee in two weeks would make this a lost season before the calendar even turns to October.

-Alabama is going to hang half a hundred on Ole Miss next week. The Rebels certainly weren’t mentally fully engaged for Saturday’s tilt with FCS foe Southern Illinois, but allowing 41 points in just over 30 minutes to the Salukis is alarming nevertheless. With the Crimson Tide offense clicking on all cylinders at the moment, there won’t be any slowing them down next Saturday night. Ole Miss can get into the thirties against the Alabama defense, but that won’t be nearly enough.

-BONUS THOUGHT: Arkansas had to sweep its non-conference schedule to get to a bowl game this year. It didn’t. It’s not going bowling. Chad Morris inherited a program that was miles away from competing in the upper ranks of the SEC West, but Saturday’s 34-27 loss at Colorado State should still be considered a disaster. The Hogs led 27-9 midway through the third quarter, and the 0-2 Rams cored the final 25 points. Defensive coordinator John Chavis continues to fall below expectations no matter what SEC team he is coaching.

 

Around The Nation

-Colorado-Nebraska, it was so nice to have you back. Great game, great rivalry, and so much nostalgia. Can’t wait for next year’s rematch in Boulder.

-Will Larry Fedora be the first Power Five coach fired? Things have gone from bad to worse in Chapel Hill. Eight weeks until basketball season.

-Tough injury for news for Duke after a great win at Northwestern. Cornerback Mark Gilbert is out for the season, and quarterback Daniel Jones is out indefinitely. With a huge division game with Virginia Tech before September ends, the Blue Devils’ ACC Coastal title chances are in doubt.

-More bad injury news hit on Sunday, as Oklahoma lost running back Rodney Anderson for the season. The Sooners passing game is still as good as any in the country, but Anderson was a key element to the Oklahoma machine.

-818 yards for Boise State against Connecticut? Randy Edsall’s second stint in Storrs might not go quite as well as his first.

-Arizona is 0-2 after a blowout loss to Houston. Khalil Tate looks like a shell of his 2017 self. For a team projected by some to win the Pac-12 South, it’s been a disastrous start in Kevin Sumlin’s first season.

-I can’t wait to watch Wisconsin’s offensive line against Iowa’s front seven in two weeks. Old. School. Football.

-Might the Herm Edwards hire actually work for Arizona State? Or is Michigan State just not very good? I’m leaning with the latter combined with the body clock elements that have doomed so many Eastern and Midwestern teams in the past on late nights in the desert.

-Congrats to Hawaii, who became the nation’s first 3-0 team on Saturday night with a win over Rice.

 

The five non-SEC results that shocked me the most:

1. East Carolina 41, North Carolina 19

2. Kansas 31, Central Michigan 7

3. Eastern Michigan 20, Purdue 19

4. Coastal Carolina 47, UAB 24

5. Arizona State 16, (15) Michigan State 13

 

The five wildest stat lines:

1. USF WR Terrence Horne – 2 kickoff return TD, 1 receiving TD, 283 all-purpose yards (W, 49-38 vs. Georgia Tech)

2. Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor - 33 carries, 253 yards, 3 TD (W, 45-14 vs. New Mexico)

3. Mississippi State RB Kylin Hill – 17 carries, 211 yards, 2 TD; 1 reception, 16 yards, 1 TD (W, 31-10 at Kansas State)

4. Navy QB Malcom Perry – 2-of-3, 22 yards; 36 carries, 166 yards, 2 TD; 1 reception, 17 yards (W, 22-21 vs. Memphis)

5. Ohio State QBs Dwayne Haskins and Tate Martell – 30-of-33, 354 yards, 5 TD, 0 INT

 

Top 25

Check back after Week 3

 

The 5 Week 3 SEC Games I'm Most Interested In

1.   No. 12 LSU at No. 7 Auburn (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

2.   No. 1 Alabama at Ole Miss (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)

3.   Missouri at Purdue (7:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

4.   Vanderbilt at No. 8 Notre Dame (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC)

5.   North Texas at Arkansas (4 p.m. ET, SEC Network Alternate)

 

The 5 Week 3 National Games I'm Most Interested In

1.   No. 4 Ohio State at No. 15 TCU (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

2.   No. 10 Washington at Utah (10 p.m. ET, ESPN)

3.   USC at Texas (8 p.m. ET, FOX)

4.   No. 17 Boise State at No. 24 Oklahoma State (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

5.   No. 5 Oklahoma at Iowa State (Noon ET, ABC)

Matt Smith - Matt is a 2007 graduate of Notre Dame and has spent most of his life pondering why most people in the Mid-Atlantic actually think there are more important things than college football. He has blogged for College Football News, covering both national news as well as Notre Dame and the service academies. He credits Steve Spurrier and Danny Wuerffel for his love of college football and tailgating at Florida, Tennessee, and Auburn for his love of sundresses. Matt covers the ACC as well as the national scene.