It was another rough weekend for the SEC in terms of a national perspective, at least for some teams. The marquee match-up of No. 15 Ole Miss and No. 2 Alabama lived up to the hype, but good games were few and far between besides the nightcap on the SEC action on Saturday.
Let's start with the bad, and for the second straight week that means a trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Arkansas Razorbacks lost once again to a non-conference opponent, this time to a slightly more respectable team in Texas Tech, but almost just as embarrassingly as well. The Razorbacks lost 35-24 to Texas Tech despite running for 228 yards and controlling the time of possession. The Red Raiders were able to carve up Arkansas's secondary to the tune of 315 yards passing and coupled that with three rushing scores. Texas Tech's head coach Cliff Kingsbury had some heated words for Arkansas's head coach Bret Bielema after the game, and the Red Raiders took the rubber match of the two-game home and home series. Arkansas is now 1-2 before playing an SEC game, and the wheels have all but fallen off this early in the season.
Arkansas was the only team upset in a non-conference game, but that didn't stop other SEC teams from trying their best to lose. No. 22 Missouri played one of the ugliest games of the weekend, totaling just 270 yards of offense in a 9-6 victory over Connecticut. Starting quarterback Maty Mauk was benched in favor of Drew Lock in the game, but neither quarterback looked particularly effective, and Missouri's running game averaged just 2.5 yards a carry. Vanderbilt struggled for a half against Austin Peay before pulling away to win 47-7, and the rest of the SEC teams playing non-conference games had smooth sailing. No. 17 Texas A&M ran away from Nevada 44-27, Mississippi State trampled Northwestern State 62-13, and Tennessee handled Western Carolina 55-10.
Aside from Ole Miss-Alabama, none of the SEC games were very compelling. The Florida vs. Kentucky match-up was close, but it was by no means fun to watch. The two teams totaled less than 250 yards of offense apiece, and Kentucky never managed a touchdown. Patrick Towles completed just 8 of his 24 pass attempts and threw two interceptions for the Wildcats, and the win for Florida was the Gators' first conference win of the season, pushing them to 1-0.
The No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs had their way in all facets of the game against the South Carolina Gamecocks in a 52-20 victory in Athens, bringing their overall conference record to 2-0. The Gamecocks gave up 576 offensive yards to the Bulldogs compared to their own 258, and South Carolina is now 0-2 in conference play. No. 18 Auburn put in their second straight disappointing performance, but this one ended in a lopsided loss to SEC West foe LSU. Jeremy Johnson once again looked inept leading Auburn's offense, and No. 13 LSU amassed 411 rushing yards, including 228 yards and 3 scores from sophomore running back Leonard Fournette, in a 45-21 rout. LSU now tops the West with a 2-0 conference record while Auburn drops to 0-1 and looks far from the juggernaut they were expected to be before the season began.
The SEC slate was topped off by another epic showdown between Ole Miss and Alabama, and for the second straight season, the Rebels edged out the Crimson Tide. Last season saw Ole Miss win in last-minute fashion and Ole Miss fans rush the field. This time, Ole Miss had the upper hand from nearly the beginning, and it took a defensive stand late to squash an Alabama comeback to hand the Tide a 43-37 home loss. Alabama out-gained the Rebels 503 to 433, but the Tide committed 5 turnovers and failed to force an Ole Miss turnover. Ole Miss may technically be trailing LSU in the West standings, but after the win over No. 2 Alabama, the Rebels are now the perceived favorite to win the division.
Arkansas, Auburn, Alabama, South Carolina, and Missouri all appear worse than anticipated to begin this season. South Carolina and Missouri weren't expected to be elite teams by any means, but they've looked dreadful to start the 2015 season, and the three West teams all had aspirations to win the SEC West crown. Alabama looks good enough to recover, but someone will have to take down Ole Miss twice if the Tide are to even hope to win the West now.
Next week's slate of SEC match-ups has several enticing match-ups including Tennessee visiting the Florida Gators, Vanderbilt traveling to Ole Miss, Arkansas and Texas A&M playing in a neutral site game, Kentucky hosting Missouri, and Mississippi State taking on Auburn on the road.