ATLANTA, GA – SEPTEMBER 03: Stetson Bennett #13 of the Georgia Bulldogs rushes in for a touchdown during the first half of the Chick-fil-A Kick-Off Game against the Oregon Ducks at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 3, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
The SEC had a big week one that was headlined by No. 3 Georgia’s 49-3 shellacking of No. 11 Oregon, unranked Florida’s thrilling 29-26 win over No. 7 Utah, No. 19 Arkansas’ 31-24 win over No. 23 Cincinnati and let us not forget the letdown in the Big Easy when a missed assignment on a PAT attempt led to a blocked kick and a 24-23 LSU loss at the hands of Florida State.
Here are the top highlights and observations for the SEC heading into week two.
Georgia and Alabama still the cream of the crop
To the surprise of few, Georgia and Alabama still remain as the top two dogs in the SEC and show no signs of letting up. Georgia beat a top 15 team that many expected to put up much more of a fight than what we actually saw, but Stetson Bennett and the Bulldogs rolled and looked untamable in Atlanta.
Alabama had what was by all intents and purposes a tune-up at home beating Utah State 55-0. While I won’t put too much stock in the Tide rolling against a team they were supposed to beat handily, they looked polished and like the Alabama we all expected to see in week one.
SEC 3-0 in non-conference top 25 play
The Southeastern conference was on fire in week one with big top 25 wins by Georgia, Florida and Arkansas. Tennessee has an opportunity to make it 4-0 this week when they hit the road to take on No. 17 Pittsburgh in Acrisure Stadium.
Josh Heupel is in his second year at Tennessee and has already elevated the recruiting efforts in Knoxville and hopes to keep building the momentum in his Tennessee turnaround with an improvement in the product on the field and last season’s 7-6 record. A big win over Pittsburgh on the road, will give Heupel and the Vols plenty of momentum heading into SEC play. While it’s too early to tell exactly how good this team can be, things look as promising as they’ve looked in years when it comes to expectations in Knoxville. I’m not ready to dub them as contenders in the East just yet, but I think they’re going to be a headache for opposing teams this season.
Anthony Richardson, Heisman dark-horse?
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but Richardson is a guy that many expect to be taken in the first round of next year’s NFL Draft. He did put up some pretty impressive numbers against a Utah defense that’s no pushover, completing 17-of-24 passing attempts for 168 yards. He did most of his damage in the ground game with 11 rushing attempts for 106 yards and three touchdowns, earning himself Southeastern Conference Player of the Week honors on offense. This kid is one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the country, a guy often referred to in Gainesville as ‘baby Cam’ [Newton] and the scary thing is, he’s only going to get better as he gets more experience. He’s going to get his on the ground, but if he can stay healthy and continue to improve as a passer, this Florida offense has the potential to be scary good with him under center.
Letdown in the Big Easy
It was one of the most dramatic finishes that you’ll ever see in college football. The final three minutes contained an LSU muffed punt as they trail 24-17, which many thought would be the nail in the Tiger coffin, FSU recovered and had an opportunity to make it a two-score game. But for some reason Mike Norvell called a toss play on the goal line and it was fumbled and recovered by LSU at the one yard line. It was a baffling play call to say the least, a toss on the goal line…Really? You could have kneeled the ball three times, kicked a field goal and went up by ten. The last thing you would want to call is a toss play, but you give LSU life and an opportunity to do the unexpected and it almost happened. Jayden Daniels led LSU on a 99-yard scoring drive to make it 24-23. All they had to do was make the PAT, but a personnel change and a missed blocking assignment on the PAT, led to an FSU block and ultimately heartbreak in New Orleans for the home state Tigers.
Massive week two slate
Week two promises to be another exciting weekend of college football with plenty of big games on the SEC slate. Here are the top SEC games of the weekend in a loaded college football weekend.
No. 1 Alabama (1-0) @ Texas (1-0) Sat. 11:00 AM CT
Is this going to be Alabama’s first real test or another big win by the Tide? It’s one of those early 11am CT kickoffs, but with two big programs going to head-to-head, I think both teams will be amped and ready to play. Alabama is a -20 favorite which is almost embarrassing for Texas. I don’t know if the Tide will cover the spread or not, that’s a big number for two Power five teams, If we look at history Alabama has historically struggled in road games where they were heavy favorites, Texas might keep things interesting but I think Alabama wins and probably by two scores at least.
No. 24 Tennessee (1-0) @ No. 17 Pittsburgh (1-0) Sat. 2:30 PM CT
Pittsburgh is coming off an impressive win in the backyard brawl topping West Virginia 38-31. Tennessee didn’t have quite the test that Pitt did in week one. The thing to watchout for here is will there be a Pittsburgh letdown after such an exhausting win over a bitter rival? Tennessee is a -6.5 favorite. This is a tough game on the road and I’m still not sure how good either team is to this point. I do like the Vols to win, but I think Pittsburgh can keep it close in front of the home crowd.
No. 12 Florida (1-0) vs No. 20 Kentucky (1-0) Sat. 6:00 PM CT
This is the game to watch on Saturday night when it comes to SEC football. You’ve got a Kentucky team that has historically given the Gators problems over the last several years. The Gators survived their first test last week, can they open up SEC play with a win and move to 2-0? The Wildcats will be without starting running back Chris Rodriguez Jr, who is serving a suspension. Without him, this Kentucky offense takes a big hit against what looks like an improving Florida football team under new head coach Billy Napier. But even without Rodriguez this is the matchup of the night in the SEC.
The rest of the slate
No. 16 Arkansas (1-0) vs South Carolina (1-0) Sat. 11:00 AM CT
Vanderbilt (2-0) vs No. 23 Wake Forest (1-0) Sat. 11:00 AM CT
Missouri (1-0) @ Kansas State (1-0) Sat. 11:00 AM CT
No. 6 Texas A&M (1-0) vs Appalachian State (0-1) Sat. 2:30 PM CT
No. 2 Georgia (1-0) vs Samford (1-0) Sat. 3:00 PM CT
No. 22 Ole Miss (1-0) vs Central Arkansas (0-1) Sat. 6:00 PM CT
Auburn (1-0) vs San Jose State (1-0) Sat. 6:30 PM CT
LSU (0-1) vs Southern (1-0) Sat. 6:30 PM CT
Mississippi State (1-0) @ Arizona (1-0) 10:00 PM CT