While the notion that the SEC is the undisputed top conference in college football is almost indisputable, we missed the perfect opportunity during the first week of the college football season.
Weekend in conference at 14-0, apparently rare, with a second to finish, FSU thwarts LSU after late rally in New Orleans bonus points to try. Still, the conference was fully open, with the favorites running the business, and of course underdog Florida upending top 10 Utah. Combined with Georgia’s demolition of Oregon, the SEC’s narrative is as strong as ever, and the Pac-12’s perception is declining every minute.
The Grove Report reviews the full SEC roster before flipping to Week 2.
Utah State 0, No. 1 Alabama State 55
Not much specific review beyond expectations. With defending Heisman champion Bryce Young throwing five touchdowns and running another one night, all three phases of football looked easy for Nick Saban’s team. Tide’s defense looks as good as any unit in the country, allowing only 136 yards total and three third-conversion conversions for an Aggie team that already has a game (and a win). The Bama-Georgia Championship is scheduled.
Do not. 11 Oregon 3, No. 3 Georgia 49
was a disappointment to win the national championship after a 40-year drought. If anything, Georgia looks as good against the Ducks as it does at any point in 2021 — a scary thought given the dominant defense and offense as the week progresses . Stetson Bennett looked in complete control, throwing for 368 yards and two touchdowns while rushing to another. Even without a dominant backcourt, the offense looked effective on any attempt. Yes, a defensive bench would be great, just ask Ponix. The former Auburn passer, who ended his college career 0-4 against UGA, had two more interceptions on the way Saturday.
Do not. 7 Utah 26, Florida 29
SEC Game of the Day features Billy Napier in Game 1 at Gainesville helm ‘s first victory ended. While UF lingers and even leads for a long time in this one, it’s only a matter of time before the blown-up Utah will click and finish the drive. That never happened, and an opportunistic but fragile Florida defense took advantage of two turnovers from their own end zone, including a winning interception by Amari Burney. On the other hand, Anthony Richardson’s hype immediately felt necessary, as his double-threat display (106 yards rushing, 3 touchdowns) immediately put him in the Heisman conversation.
Do not. 23 Cincinnati 24, No. 19 Arkansas 31
KJ Jefferson and Raheim Sanders lead Arkansas to a steady offense as the season starts with a strength game and back and forth. victory. Every time the Pandas play, especially in the air, the Hogg duo are ready and willing to answer. The two combined for 179 yards and Jefferson added 223 yards in the air, including a 3-pointer. Arkansas State has played well against the UC run race, and having the talented Bearcats along the way is one-dimensional. That’s enough to avoid the shootout feeling in Fayetteville.
Wayne El Reeves’ hype train is headed for a strong start. The Penn State transfer threw three touchdowns to open the 2022 season for Kentucky, each within the 10-yard line. Although the British run didn’t help much, he managed a 300-yard effort that didn’t feature a double-digit yardage dash in the win. The Wildcats defense also limited big moves, forcing turnovers on the way by running and passing the ball.
Troy No. 10 No. 21 Miss Ole No. 28
Miss Ole 1st half Putting it all together is reminiscent of a 10-win team from 2021, but the second half leaves a lot to be desired in terms of the overall offense. The quarterback’s jury is still inconclusive after Jaxson Dart’s Rebels debut, which included a run and a poor interception. Instead, the defense and running game looked strong. Zach Evans made his 130-yard debut, and freshman Quinshon Judkins powered his 87-yard work, including scoring. Rebels also look great at preventing escapes.
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Ball State 10, Tennessee 59
UT offense continued to work as advertised, especially QB1 as Hendon Hooker scored four TDs in this blowout win Array (two passes). Walls also rushed for more than 200 yards as a team, showing more balance than he did last season to provide spectators. The defense forced three turnovers, including one in Game 1. There was no doubt about it, as the Walls led 45-0 in the second half before the Cardinals came on.
Memphis 23, Mississippi 49
Another SEC The star quarterback looked to be part of Will Rogers on Saturday as he continued to push Michigan State’s passing record with his game. This time, he threw five touchdown passes, four of which were from 20 yards. A three-hour lightning delay won’t slow down MSU’s passing rush this time around, as Rodgers hit a career-high 450 yards before succumbing to the reserves. This was his sixth 400-yard game as a Bulldog. The home team’s defense was excellent, especially in the first half, keeping the usually exciting Memphis offense to less than 50 yards before halftime.
Georgia State 14, South Carolina 35
Spencer Rattler Tee He had an up-and-down career at Carolina on Saturday, scoring a point and two interceptions despite his mobility and flashes of live arms. Thankfully, USC’s defense and special teams were at their best, with a pair of blocked punts to score, keeping the game forever out of reach. The road offense in Arkansas this weekend has to be better.
Louisiana Tech 24, Missouri 52
On Thursday night, Mizzou looked like a balanced offense early in the season, especially with a new playmaker on the floor. Their top rookie Luther Burden started his college career with catches and rushes. The offense took a little while to kick in, and the defense started to slacken early — a welcome sight for MU loyalists, we’re sure. Three interceptions in the first two quarters helped turn the tide against seemingly worthy G5 opponents at times.
Mercer 16, Auburn 42
another game affected by a long delay, and another game where Auburn fans are asking questions about the QB1. Starter TJ Finley turned the ball over twice, while backup Robby Ashford flashed legal wheels and a deep ball worth more watching for a combined 168 yards. Fortunately, AU’s rushing offense still has future NFLer Tank Bigsby in play, with his 147 yards and two scoring hauls dominating the offense no matter who’s at the helm. Auburn’s defense faltered in the two minutes of practice before halftime, but was otherwise strong (especially on the run) until garbage time.
Elon 31, Vanderbilt 42
How about 2-0 Vanderbilt? Granted, this is against an FCS opponent, but the ‘Dores is a third to qualify for the Bowl, a legitimately tough hill to climb for the program. Defense didn’t show up in the second half, but VU QB Mike Wright was on the floor in all four quarters, and in his best night as a college starter, he had 6 touchdowns (4 passing) and 300-plus yards (245 passes). Can Vandy go 3-1 into Tuscaloosa on Sept. 24?
FL 24, LSU 23
While the Florida-Utah-Arcanas-Cynsi game was the two best games in the country, football entertainment from talent, back-and-forth and just “good” – this LSU/FL State games are fun for other reasons. Both quarterbacks, LSU’s Jalen Daniels and FSU’s Jordan Travis, both want their offense to use their arms and legs to both produce and convert, but there’s little else on either side. Things look clean. Fittingly, the final score was decided on an extra-point attempt in the face of pressure on the left, with LSU on the same side giving up another block earlier in the night.
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