For the second straight season, the SEC opened up in rather dominating fashion, as only Vanderbilt lost their season-opener to begin 2015. And for the second straight season, an SEC team will likely only play 11 regular season games, as LSU's opener against McNeese State was canceled due to bad weather much like Florida's game against Idaho was last season to begin the year.
Most SEC teams began 2015 against lower-level FBS schools or against FCS opponents, as only Auburn, Alabama, and Texas A&M played teams that would be considered higher-level FBS schools in Louisville, Wisconsin, and Arizona State respectively. Otherwise, the slate of games played by SEC schools to start the season was rather lackluster. And those lower-level opponents is part of the reason why the conference began 2015 with an offensive explosion, as 12 of the 14 teams started the season scoring 30 points or more, topped off by totals of 76 by Ole Miss, 61 by Florida, 59 by Tennessee, and 51 by Georgia.
Offense figured to be one of the major story-lines for the SEC this season, but not because teams were expected to have potent ones like they displayed on Saturday. And that could still very well change once the SEC season officially begins in Week 2, but for now the offensive output is impressive.
The two teams who failed to score at a high clip, Vanderbilt and South Carolina, opened the season on Thursday night and were two of the first games to be played in the college football season. The Gamecocks struggled to beat North Carolina 17-13, and Vanderbilt opened up their season for the second straight year with a loss, losing 14-12 to Western Kentucky. The only other team to struggle with their opening opponent was Kentucky, another SEC East team. The Wildcats were up 24-7 at the half over Louisiana-Lafayette and had a 33-10 lead with 3:47 left to play in the third quarter when they allowed the Ragin' Cajuns to score 23 unanswered points and tie the game at 33 with 7:36 left to play in the game. Only a Mikel Horton 12-yard touchdown run with 57 seconds left to play saved Kentucky from losing their opener.
The discrepancy between East and West made itself apparent on the opening weekend, as all three West schools who opened against higher-level FBS teams looked solid in their games, and the other three teams dominated lower-level competition. Meanwhile, the East had one team lose their opening game and two more struggle to win. Only Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee impressed from start to finish (for the most part). In fact, Florida may have been the most impressive SEC team in the opening week, dumping 61 points on New Mexico State and amassing 606 yards of offense against the Aggies. Granted, the offensive production came against a Sun Belt school, but it was still Florida's most impressive offensive output in three years.
No SEC schools faced off against each other in the opening week of 2015, but that will change in Week 2 when Georgia takes on Vanderbilt and Kentucky visits South Carolina to officially kick off the 2015 SEC season. After next week, the SEC East division race will begin to take shape, and the pandemonium can officially begin.