As we saw in Week 1, the SEC – like the final half-season of Breaking Bad – can’t wait/won’t wait to get straight to the point. So many teams, such high stakes. It seems only fitting.
If Georgia-Clemson served as Breaking Bad’s season-premiere standoff in the garage (we’ll leave it vague for spoilers – but seriously, people, catch up and be live), this weekend’s South Carolina-Georgia tilt and next week’s Alabama-Texas A&M battle serve as what unfolded in the desert last night on AMC’s epic show.
The Bulldogs now own the edge in the SEC East race, with the tie-breaker over a South Carolina team whose defense got exposed Saturday. Meanwhile, Florida showed its fatal flaw in an inept offensive performance at Miami, allowing the Hurricanes to score the mild upset.
Things in the West, meanwhile, were calmer – though that changes this week when the Crimson Tide rolls into College Station hoping to avenge last year’s loss.
Let’s get to the week in review, shall we?
Week 2 Results
Kentucky 41, Miami (OH) 7
Miami (FL) 21, No. 12 Florida 16
Tennessee 52, Western Kentucky 20
Missouri 38, Toledo 23
Mississippi State 51, Alcorn State 7
No. 11 Georgia 41, No. 6 South Carolina 30
Arkansas 31, Samford 21
Ole Miss 31, Southeast Missouri State 13
No. 7 Texas A&M 65, Sam Houston State 28
Auburn 38, Arkansas State 9
Vanderbilt 38, Austin Peay 3
No. 9 LSU 56, UAB 17
QB Aaron Murray – Georgia
Consider the big-game monkey off Murray’s back. The senior quarterback turned in a masterful performance Saturday afternoon between the hedges, completing 17-of-23 passes for 309 yards and 4 TDs. Murray faced significant criticism – including here – for his track record of performances against top teams. He silenced those critics on Saturday in leading the Bulldogs to an enormous divisional victory.
RB Todd Gurley – Georgia
Once again, Gurley played like a man when called upon. While Murray gained his much-needed redemption, we might well look back on this game as the turning point for Gurley’s Heisman campaign. The sophomore ran 30 times for 134 tough yards and a TD. He also caught a TD pass.
The Volunteers forced seven turnovers – including five over a course of six snaps – and returned a couple interceptions for touchdowns in their big win over Western Kentucky. This unit – especially the secondary – faced unworldly scrutiny in 2012. Is this the confidence boost Butch Jones’ defense needed?
WR Odell Beckham – LSU
In a rout of UAB, Beckham caught five passes for 136 yards and 3 TDs. He also returned a missed field goal 100 (official) yards for another score.
Tennessee’s takeaway run
Sometime, somewhere, there has surely been a five-turnover-in-six-plays streak. I promise you I don’t remember it. The amazing part is this is a defense that just got shredded – both in the media and by opposing offenses – in 2012. Coaching changes occur in part to breathe new life into and create fresh energy among programs. Make no mistake: The Volunteers haven’t yet faced anyone on their level. Still, this group carries a far greater air of confidence.
Miami toppling No. 12 Florida
Really, that Miami beating a flawed Florida team earns ‘Biggest Letdown’ honors shows the predictability of the weekend. The Hurricanes harassed QB Jeff Driskel and the Gators into five turnovers and RB Duke Johnson, QB Stephen Harris and company did just enough to score the win. This would be a good place to remind folks that Florida’s defense legitimately ranks among the best in the nation. However, without significant offensive improvements, the Gators simply can’t contend at the national level.
Missouri RB Henry Josey
Anyone who watched Josey’s gruesome injury unfold live knows just how amazing it is that he played football again. The Missouri tailback hasn’t just returned – he has made an impact. Josey scored 2 TDs in the Tigers’ 38-23 victory over Toledo this week, giving him three for the season. Missouri needs a strong balance to QB James Franklin’s running ability and – more importantly – to open up the passing game. Josey has the ability to provide it.
Auburn’s defense does not feature a wealth of talent. The group lacks ability – specifically in the tackling department, which doesn’t bode well for a defense. The Tigers will give up yards all season, but they are showing a tremendous ability to bog down opponents in the red-zone. Keep an eye on how Auburn’s defense does with its back against the wall this week against Mississippi State… Speaking of defenses, keep an eye on Texas A&M. Fans last week defended the unit by pointing out that six starters were suspended for at least part of the opener against Rice. They were back against Sam Houston State, though, which scored 28 points while the starters (at least the offensive starters) were still in the game. Furthermore, making the suspended player argument misses the point – for this team to contend for a championship, SEC or otherwise, it will need depth. The Aggies host top-ranked Alabama this week… Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott impressed in his first-career start, completing 12-of-19 passes for 174 yards and 2 TDs while rushing for another. Prescott got the opportunity because QB1 Tyler Russell missed the game after suffering a concussion in the opener. Anybody reasonable quarterback probably could have looked good against Alcorn State, but it’s worth filing this away for the next time Russell struggles… On the quarterback front, Auburn’s Nick Marshall posted a far more impressive stat-line than the one he recorded in the opener. In the win over Arkansas State, Marshall went 10-for-17 for 147 yards and 2 TDs. Those numbers should have been far better. He missed several wide-open receivers. Either he will develop better touch or Gus Malzahn’s offense won’t hit on all cylinders this season… Texas showed no ability to slow BYU’s read-option. Ole Miss QB2 Barry Brunetti – the running option – went for 111 yards and a TD last week. Look out, Texas… South Carolina won’t have too many happy thoughts about its loss to Georgia. RB Mike Davis’ performance should be one of them. He ran for 149 yards and a TD and added another 49 receiving yards. Davis has a strong speed burst and shows toughness. He can be another great weapon for Steve Spurrier… Arkansas RB Alex Collins opened the season best known for being the player whose mother wouldn’t sign off on his National Letter of Intent. That won’t be his calling card for long. Coach Bret Bielema is calling on the true freshman early and often. RB Jonathan Williams retains the starter title, but Collins now has 303 yards and a TD on 45 carries this season. He went for 172 yards and the touchdown last week against Samford. Bielema loves to pound the ball, so Williams and Collins are both sure to get their opportunities.
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