Unless you have been living under a rock these past twenty-four hours, you know that the college football season (fully) kicked off on Saturday with so many games that you wish you had more time in the day to watch more college football. The whole day was filled with some impressive showings, some disappointing blowouts and some thrilling finishes. Here are the results for the thirteen other teams in the Southeastern Conference (and one bonus game) in Week 1.
Ready or not, here we come!
(3) Georgia – 42, (11) Oregon – 3
Let’s start with the defending national champions, shall we? I had previewed this game earlier this week and said that it was the best matchup on the SEC schedule (by rankings) as the Bulldogs were ranked third in the AP Top 25 and the Ducks were ranked 11th. I also pointed out the fact one of the other storylines going into the game was the fact that it would be the debut of new UO head coach Dan Lanning, the former UGA defensive coordinator. Lastly, I mentioned that Oregon does have some talent on both sides of the ball and that Georgia did lose several key players to the NFL after last year’s national championship, but the Bulldogs would get the job done.
That was an understatement!
Georgia totally dismantled the Ducks in front of a “neutral game site” crowd in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Quarterback Stetson Bennett completed 25 of 31 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for another score. By the end of the third quarter, Bennett was enjoying the Georgia victory from the comforts of the Bulldogs’ sideline. The revamped defense picked up from where they left off last season, holding the high-powered Ducks’ offense to only 313 yards of offense and one field goal. The Dawgs made life for former Auburn quarterback and Oregon starter Bo Nix a living Hell. Nix only had 173 yards passing with two interceptions. He also was the team’s leading rusher, with 37 yards on eight carries. And when your quarterback is your leading rusher, you know that you’re in trouble. Georgia did not seem to miss a step as some wondered if the Bulldogs would be able to over the loss of so many players to the league, but it seems like this team will definitely be in the hunt for another national championship again this season.
(1) Alabama – 55, Utah State – 0
As for another SEC team vying to get back to the national championship, the Alabama Crimson Tide totally steamrolled their overmatched opponents, the Sisters of the Poor, I mean, the Utah State Aggies. This game was never in doubt and the Tide completely dominated the game from start to finish. Alabama quarterback (and last year’s Heisman Trophy winner) Bryce Young put up a spectacular stat line, with completing 64 percent of his passes for just under 200 passing yards and five touchdowns. Young also led the Crimson Tide in rushing with five carries for 100 yards and one touchdown. On defense, Alabama swamped Utah State, holding the Aggies to only 136 total yards of offense and seven first downs. You know it’s bad when your quarterback only has 39 yards on three completions. The Crimson Tide will have tougher games coming up on the schedule, but they definitely took advantage of the chance to pad their stats early and often in this one.
(19) Arkansas – 31, (23) Cincinnati – 24
How about a game that was actually, well, good? Look no further than this matchup of two Top 25 teams, the number 19 Arkansas Razorbacks and the number 23 Cincinnati Bearcats. I had previously stated in my previous post about the SEC game schedule for Week 1 that this game may be a sleeper for game of the week of all the games around the conference. Cincinnati was the surprise of last year, getting to the College Football Playoff before bowing out to Alabama in the semifinal round. I had said that the Hogs might surprise some people this year, as they returned twelve starters from last year’s 9-4 team and also added some key pieces through the transfer portal.
Well, this game did not disappoint as Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson provided the spark needed for the Razorbacks to edge the Bearcats on Saturday. Jefferson threw for 223 yards and three touchdowns as well as running for an additional 62 yards and a touchdown as well. The Bearcats, led by Eastern Michigan transfer Ben Bryant, did have 438 yards of offense and even had more first downs than Arkansas, but two turnovers and two missed field goals hurt Cincinnati’s changes of upsetting the Hogs. The Bearcats had the talent to win the game, but their mistakes against the Razorbacks ultimately cost them the game.
Florida – 29, (7) Utah – 26
In what was the biggest upset of the first week of college football, the Florida Gators and new head coach Billy Napier tripped up the 7th ranked Utah Utes, 29 to 26. Napier, the former UL-Lafayette head coach, won his debut in Gainesville in spectacular fashion, led by Gators signal caller Anthony Richardson’s one hundred and six rushing yards three rushing touchdowns. Richardson, the sophomore from Gainesville, also had 168 passing yards in only his second start for the Gators. The contest was a tug-of-war battle, going back and forth throughout the whole game but was finally sealed with linebacker Amari Burney’s interception on Utah’s Cam Rising’s pass into the end zone with 17 seconds left in the game. This play set off the wild celebration in the Swamp for the 90 thousand plus people in attendance. The Gators can’t rest on their laurels for long as they open SEC play next Saturday against Kentucky, but for now, Florida fans have a reason to celebrate – something they haven’t had in a long time.
North Carolina – 63, Appalachian State – 61
As for the “lagniappe” game I mentioned in the lead of my story, the game of the week was not Georgia-Oregon. It wasn’t even Ohio State-Notre Dame (which was actually a decent game), but this barnburner played in Boone, North Carolina yesterday afternoon. In a game between an ACC team and a member of the so-called “Fun Belt” Conference, North Carolina and Appalachian State combined for 1216 yards of total offense in the game and an amazing 62 points combined in the fourth quarter alone! Yes, you read that right, SIXTY-TWO points in one quarter. Amazingly, that was *not* the record for most combined points in one quarter as Navy and North Texas racked up 63 points combined in their 2007 game, which the Midshipmen won, 74 to 62. In this basketball-esque score of a game, the two teams scored nine touchdowns between them, with three scored in the last minute of the game. In case you missed it, App State had the opportunity to tie the game at 56 with thirty-one seconds left in the game, but surprisingly went for the two-point conversion to take the lead. Instead, the pass to the wide open Mountaineer receiver was off target and Appalachian State still trailed by one. On the ensuing onside kick attempt, the Tar Heels’ Bryson Nesbit returned the kick 43 yards for a touchdown, seemingly icing the game for North Carolina. However, not to be denied, App State drove the ball down the field and scored with nine seconds left on the clock to pull within two points. However, Mountaineer quarterback Chase Brice attempted to run for the two point conversion and was stopped about two yards from the goal line. What a game!
As for the rest of the SEC teams in action, the conference dominated their non-conference opponents, outscoring them, 375 to 141. Here are the scores for the rest of the SEC games.
(6) Texas A&M – 31, Sam Houston State – 0
(20) Kentucky – 37, Miami (Ohio) – 13
(21) Ole Miss – 28, Troy – 10
Mississippi State – 49, Memphis – 23
Tennessee – 59, Ball State – 10
Missouri – 52, Louisiana Tech – 24
South Carolina – 35, Georgia State – 14
Auburn – 42, Mercer – 16
Vanderbilt – 42, Elon – 31
Tonight, the last SEC team plays as LSU takes on Florida State in the Allstate Louisiana Kickoff in the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans. I know there have already been hundreds (if not thousands) of predictions made on tonight’s game. All the so-called experts have already chimed in on the game: the new LSU head coach Brian Kelly, the unknown of who’s going to be under center for the Tigers, the transfer of players both in and out and all that jazz. Frankly, I can’t think of any way this team or this game hasn’t already been scrutinized as just about every facet of LSU, whether it be their roster, coaching staff or anything in between.
The only things I know for certain are this:
a.) the Golden Band from Tiger Land will give all LSU fans goosebumps when those first four notes play,
b.) the Caesars Superdome will be rocking,
c.) and by the end of the night, you will be sick of hearing the “Seminole War Chant” when Florida State does something good.
That said, I don’t think you will be hearing the “Seminole War Chant” as much as other sports pundits think. I know that Florida State already has one game under their belt as Florida State lit up the Duquesne Dukes, 47-7, with 638 yards of total offense and six touchdowns, but let’s be honest, Duquesne is just a cupcake compared to the Fighting Tigers of LSU. I don’t think the game will be a blowout as other bloggers would say, but I do think that it will be a good game. Will it be an instant classic? I don’t know about that, but I do think that the Brian Kelly era starts off with a W in the Dome tonight.
My Prediction: LSU – 28, Florida State – 24