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Around the SEC, Part 2

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After going over Part 1 of the SEC's schedule yesterday, today we look at the the back half of the SEC's schedule in Week 1.

Auburn 34
UL-Monroe 0

If you think LSU fans are fretting about the team's quarterback situation, Auburn fans should be even more worried.  They had a similar quarterback "controversy" heading into their season, and neither quarterback even played mediocre in the passing game.

The quarterbacks alternated series, and Chris Todd finished 9 of 18 for 70 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception.  Kodi Burns finished 4 of 9 for 15 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions.  That's a combined 3.1 yards per passing attempt with as many interceptions as touchdowns.  Yikes.  

The running game was solid, as Ben Tate went for 115 yards on 13 carries.  What Kodi Burns lacked in passing, he made up in running, averaging over 11 yards per rush.

Don't be fooled by the lopsided score though.  Auburn got a defensive touchdown and a special teams touchdown.  Without those, this game would not have been difficult, exactly, but the margin of victory wouldn't not have looked so great.  

Just judging by the stats, the defense was dominant, as expected.

Arkansas 28
Western Illinois 24

I thought Arkansas would be bad, but they needed a late touchdown to beat a pretty average FCS team.  In fact, WIU was ahead at one point 24-14.  It's strange to say this, but Casey Dick took this team on its back and carried them to victory, recording over 300 yards passing and accounting for all four touchdowns scored by Arkansas.

The running game was abysmal, and Arkansas will have to correct that to have any hope of having a decent season.

Ole Miss 41
Memphis 24

Ole Miss did not embarrass me as I feared they would, but the long awaited debut of Jevan Snead was only so-so.  He completed under 50% of his pass attempts, but had a very nice 8.4 yard average per attempt, with 2 touchdowns.  

This game was pretty much over by halftime, as Ole Miss built a 20 point lead in the second quarter and cruised to victory thereafter.

I have said that Ole Miss needs to find a running back, and it looks like they might have a committee.  Four different players carried the ball 6 times or more, and most had pretty decent success.  They unveiled the "Wild Rebel", Ole Miss's version of the Wild Hog from Houston Nutt's days at Arkansas, with Dexter McCluster standing in for Darren McFadden.  McCluster's good, but he's not in McFadden's league, but they used the formation effectively in this game.

I stand by my assessment that Ole Miss is going to be a tough team.

Bama 34
Clemson 10

I'm sure most of you saw this game, such as it was.  I went on record saying I thought Alabama was overmatched, and that sure did not bear out here.  Frankly, I think Clemson just never got off the bus.  Bama came out with a ton of energy, and Clemson just looked overwhelmed by it.  When the Clemson defense stopped Bama and held them to field goal on their second possession, I thought they had survived the initial wave and would start playing real football.  They never did.

Bama looked solid in all phases, and the vaunted freshman class was productive all around.  Julio Jones caught 4 passes.  Mark Ingram had almost 100 yards rushing.  Don'ta Hightower recovered a fumble.  John Parker Wilson had one of his best nights as an Elephant, completing 22 of 30 for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns passing, adding a rushing touchdown as well.  There will be more on that later today.

Kentucky 27
Louisville 2

The Kentucky defense was dominant, pitching a shutout, as the only Louisville points came on an intentional grounding penalty called on the UK quarterback in his own end zone.  Don't let the score fool you, however.  Kentucky's offense was pretty much awful.

Kentucky scored 2 defensive touchdowns, and scored an offensive touchdown on a drive that started on Louisville's 9 yard line.  One of their field goals came on a drive that started inside the Louisville 40 yard line.  The offense only had one drive go for more than 33 yards.

Kentucky didn't have a running back rush for more than 27 yards on the game, and new quarterback Mike Hartline averaged less than 5 yards per pass attempt.  Louisville's offense was awful, though, and allowed Kentucky to win this game.  Credit the Wildcat defense however, with stifling Louisville.  

UCLA 27
Tennessee 24

In another black eye for the SEC, the Tennessee Volunteers went to the West Coast and lost to a team that was playing its 3rd string quarterback.  They lost despite a #2 turnover advantage.  They lost despite the fact that their stud running back averaged over 7 yards per carry.  They lost despite scoring a defensive touchdown.  They lost despite giving up 0.9 yards per carry rushing.

How did they lose this game?  Mainly, they lost it because their offense did not finish drives.  Frankly, I think they threw the ball way too much.  Jonathan Crompton threw the ball 41 times, which is kind of crazy when your best player is your running back and you were playing with the lead most of the night.

The defense was dominant, but the offense let them down. This seems to be a theme this year so far.  SEC defenses dominate lesser competition while SEC offenses struggle.  This is the story with LSU, Auburn, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee.