After a stellar opening week of college football in the SEC, several teams in the conference were roughed up in Week 2. Two teams lost to non-conference opponents, and several more struggled against weaker foes. Even the three conference games on the schedule showcased the weaknesses of several SEC teams.
Starting with the non-conference games is the biggest surprise of them all: Arkansas. The No. 18 Razorbacks were hyped as the biggest SEC team on the rise before the 2015 season, but many of those who bought in to the Razorbacks may be wanting to sell and sell quickly. Arkansas lost 16-12 to Toledo. Not a Power Five powerhouse, not even a middle-of-the-road Power Five team, but a team from the MAC who currently has the 99th ranked overall offense in the country. Arkansas's Brandon Allen threw for 412 yards but couldn't toss a touchdown pass, and the Razorbacks managed just 103 rushing yards on 31 carries. The loss dropped Arkansas out of the AP top 25 and has many Razorback fans questioning this team's potential.
Speaking of dropping out of the top 25, the No. 23 Tennessee Volunteers dropped a game they had wrapped up against No. 19 Oklahoma in front of a sell-out crowd in Knoxville. The Vols led 17-0 at one point in the first half and 17-3 at halftime. But the offense hit a brick wall in the second half, and Oklahoma was able to capitalize on mistakes made by Tennessee's defense to force overtime, and the Sooners prevailed on an interception on Tennessee's possession in the second overtime to win 31-24. After gaining 117 yards of offense in the 1st quarter, the Vols managed just 137 the rest of the game, and a tired defense couldn't contain the Sooners late.
Aside from Tennessee and the three conference games, no other teams played a Power Five school. But the struggles weren't limited to the teams that lost.
Auburn, Florida, and Missouri all struggled with weaker non-conference opponents. Auburn had to use overtime to defeat FCS school Jacksonville State 27-20. Quarterback Jeremy Johnson, who was touted as one of the best new quarterbacks in the country before the season, has yet to look like a solid SEC quarterback. Johnson threw two touchdowns and interceptions against the Gamecocks, and had to use a late defensive stand to survive. Florida's familiar offensive struggles reared their head, as the Gators were lucky to defeat Eastern Carolina 31-24 in a rematch of last season's bowl game. Florida converted on just 4-of-13 third down attempts, and 12 penalties hindered the Gators on both sides of the ball. Florida's run defense allowed only 13 rushing yards, but Blake Kemp threw for 333 yards for the Pirates, and Florida had to hold off a comeback late to seal the win. Missouri also had a rough go on offense, as they managed just 279 total yards in a 27-20 victory over Arkansas State. Maty Mauk once again completed less than half his passes, but Missouri's defense was able to keep the Tigers in it and held Arkansas State to just 200 yards of total offense.
LSU held off a late Mississippi State comeback in the two teams' first SEC game of the year and prevailed 21-19 in Starkville. LSU's Brandon Harris only threw for 71 yards, but the Tigers had more rushing attempts (47) than Mississippi State had yards (43), and sophomore Leonard Fournette had 159 rushing yards and 3 scores for LSU.That game was the only conference game in the West, and Alabama, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M all handled their business against lesser foes, including another 73 points poured in by Ole Miss when they took on Fresno State.
For now, Georgia and Kentucky are sitting the driver's seat in the SEC East. Georgia struggled early against Vanderbilt, but 3 Johnny McCrary interceptions kept Vanderbilt from ever doing more than keeping it close. Thanks to a 77-yard punt return and 88-yard interception return for a touchdown and a strong rushing attack, the Bulldogs were able to prevail over the Commodores 31-14. Kentucky ended a 22-game winless streak on the road after defeating South Carolina 26-22 in what was an ugly, hard-fought game. Kentucky held a 24-7 led at halftime but failed to score an offense point in the second half and only put the game out of reach on a two-point score on a return on a botched two-point conversion by the Gamecocks. Both the Bulldogs and Wildcats are 1-0 in SEC play now, but Georgia still looks to be the favorite to win the division.
There is a lot still to be determined in the SEC this season, but the conference as a whole took a bit of a black eye in national perception on Saturday. With more conference game slated to take place next week, including Ole Miss vs. Alabama, expect more insanity from the weeks to come.