With week one of the college football season in the books for the SEC, a few thoughts in the aftermath of opening day:
Arkansas: Complete snoozer of game against Tennessee State with Mallet lighting up the scoreboard as expected. Only two things to even notice about this game: no one was injured, and they didn't get Jacksonville State'd. The rest is all irrelevant fluff and stat padding. We'll find out what they are made of when they go to Athens in week three.
Auburn: Cam Newton and the offense ran roughshod, but the defense gave up 26 points to Arkansas State, despite holding them to 5-18 on third down. The Arkansas State quarterbacks combined to go 33-49 for 323 yards and a touchdown, all the while Auburn never forced a turnover. I'll say it again, this is a team with a good offense and a bad defense that will go as far as the offense can take them and not one inch further.
Florida: Meh, big snooze. Florida looked terrible against Miami (OH), but it doesn't matter at this point. They were never in serious jeopardy of losing, and it's still a month before they make the trek to Tuscaloosa for their first legitimate test. Rolling through South Florida, Tennessee, and Kentucky shouldn't be any issue. They may not be a national championship team, but they are still the class of the East until proven otherwise, and they'll get it together. All that showing did yesterday was extend the shelf life on all of this "how will they ever replace Tebow?" garbage. The only real bad news from the opening weekend for the Gators was that both South Carolina and Georgia had stronger-than-expected showings.
Georgia: Sure it was ULL, but ULL was not as terrible as some think, and that was very impressive. The Grantham led 3-4 looked big, fast, and physical, and it looked like they were finally taking advantage of all of that raw talent. Meanwhile, Aaron Murray had a solid day at quarterback, even without A.J. Green. About as good of an opener as UGA could have hoped for.
Kentucky: Big win for Joker Phillips over his in-state rival, and even more importantly with the cupcake schedule this win probably ought to go a long way to getting the 'Cats a bowl berth. But can they legitimately play with the better teams of the conference? I'm saying probably not, but we'll see.
LSU: I've never seen a team like LSU under Miles, it's stupefying. The suspensions turned UNC into a cupcake and they still almost threw it away, despite holding a big lead late. Somehow they held on, and saved his job in the process. I defended them before the year, but after week one, if they are legitimately going to win the SEC, either they are going to get a hell of a lot better ASAP or the rest of the SEC is going to have to collapse. They'll always win a lot of games simply because they can out-talent eight or nine teams on the schedule (and keep it competitive with the remaining lot), but if they really want to consistently beat the elites something is going to have to change. And please, why do some 'Bama fans take such joy in Les Miles' continued screw-ups? If that guy keeps this up it's only a matter of time before he gets canned, and I can guarantee you that LSU will get one hell of an upgrade as a replacement. This isn't your Daddy's LSU, that's a destination job now, and Miles is probably the worst coach we could ever legitimately expect them to have. Everyone should not be pulling for LSU to lose, but for Miles to win enough to remain in Baton Rouge. He's an institutional asset for UA, act accordingly.
Mississippi State: Sure Memphis is bad, but the last I checked MSU wasn't exactly the Bill Wash 49ers in their own right, so a 49-7 thumping is pretty impressive for the Bullies. More importantly, Tyler Russell stepped up at quarterback to give them a legitimate passing threat to complement running threat Chris Relf. The schedule is still the killer here, but this team was decent last year and they look to be at least back to that level this year. The Thursday night showdown against Auburn looks to be a near toss-up at this point.
Ole Miss: Call me crazy, but buy low on Colonel Reb. If they don't just throw in the towel now -- big if, admittedly -- this could be a dangerous team. Masoli will improve the offense somewhat, and the defensive front seven looked solid. Their biggest problem Saturday, I think, was just laying down when they thought the game was over and then couldn't restart everything when they needed. This is still probably a team lurking near the 6-6 mark, but they have enough weapons here and there to be a dangerous threat to anyone on the schedule, including 'Bama. Don't write these guys off just yet.
South Carolina: Impressive win, especially considering they were down three key starters, and Southern Miss is not that bad. The defense lacks depth but does have some legitimate star players, and the offense was good. Tough front sevens will give them trouble because they are weak on the offensive line, but they have loads of size and talent at the skill positions, a good interior runner in Lattimore, and solid quarterback play out of Garcia. They honestly looked much better than I expected. That road trip to Columbia is a bit of a scary thought at the moment.
Tennessee: Nice to see Dooley get an easy 50-0 win in his debut, but the joy is going to be short lived. The Oregon team that scored 59 points in a half on Saturday is coming to town next, and with Florida, LSU, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina all on the schedule in the next two months, and if this team limps into the Memphis game with anything north of a 2-6 record, it will be a legitimate surprise. Thank God for DVR.
Vanderbilt: Robbie Caldwell finds out the hard way that it's easier to impress media types with turkey insemination jokes than it is to win football games. Not that he probably didn't know that anyway, of course. Regardless, Vandy lost the Brain Bowl to Northwestern, and moving forward the losses are certain to come in bunches. You name it, LSU, Florida, Georgia, whoever. With Wake Forest and UConn rounding out the non-conference schedule, that game in a couple of weeks against Eastern Michigan is their best (and perhaps only) chance of victory in 2010.