SEC Football: Grading Every Team's Week 1 Performance
The Southeastern Conference is known for having the nation's best college football teams. In the preseason polls, six SEC teams were ranked in the Top 25, with two—Alabama and LSU—in the top three.
And that doesn't even take into account this amazing fact: SEC teams have won the last six BCS Championship games.
Through Saturday's games, SEC teams had gone 9-1 against non-conference teams, with one game rained out —Texas A&M vs. La. Tech— and one left to play—Kentucky vs. Louisville—on Sunday.
If Kentucky is able to defeat its in-state rival, the conference could go an amazing 10-1 to open the 2012 season.
But, despite all of those victories, not every SEC team looked great on Saturday.
Here's a graded look at each team.
Kentucky Wildcats: D
Week 1: Louisville 32, Kentucky 14
Kentucky didn't look horrible in their defeat against Louisville, as they gained 373 total yards on offense. But, the defense couldn't stop Louisville from scoring, allowing the Cardinals 24 unanswered points in the second through fourth quarter.
If the defense could have played as well as the offense then maybe the Wildcats could have pulled off the upset in week one.
Instead they gave up 32 points forcing the offense to play catch up which they couldn't.
Auburn Tigers: D+
Week 1: Clemson 26, Auburn 19
Auburn got off to a fast start, scoring on a 56-yard pass Emory Blake in the first quarter. However, that was the only touchdown for the Tigers, whose offense was held to four field goals over the next three quarters.
Plus, the Auburn defense did not to stop a Clemson rushing attack that gained 320 yards.
Auburn has to fix its defense if it wants to contend in the SEC West.
Vanderbilt Commodores: C-
Week 1: South Carolina 17, Vanderbilt 13
Vanderbilt has a good team, but it couldn't make enough plays to take down South Carolina. The Commodores played well, gaining 276 yards while holding the Gamecocks to 272, but a missed opportunity in the red zone in the second quarter kept Vanderbilt from taking a 14-10 lead.
Instead of a touchdown, Vandy kicked a field goal to tie the score at 10.
After kicking another field goal in the third quarter, the Commodores surrendered the game-winning touchdown to South Carolina and never had another chance to retake the lead.
Like I said, Vanderbilt will be good, but not good enough to threaten the elite teams of the SEC East.
Georgia Bulldogs: C
Week 1: Georgia 45, Buffalo 23
Georgia had an average performance against Buffalo. The Bulldogs did enough to win, but it wasn't as easy as Georgia fans would like it to have been.
Through one half, Buffalo only trailed by eight points. But three straight Georgia touchdowns put this game out of reach.
What was good about Georgia's victory was Aaron Murray throwing for three touchdowns. What was bad was its running game relying on a 55-yard touchdown run by freshman phenom Todd Gurley to push its rushing total over 200 yards.
It was just an average performance in Week 1.
Florida Gators: C
Week 1: Florida, 27, Bowling Green 14
Florida victory was just like Georgia's. There was nothing was impressive about it, but it was good enough to start the season 1-0.
Just like Georgia, Florida has a problem. While Georgia's problem is the running game, Florida's is the passing game.
Jeff Driskel struggled against Bowling Green, completing 10 of 16 passes for 114 yards and only one touchdown. He has to play better if Florida is going to contend in the SEC East.
Tennessee Volunteers: C+
Week 1: Tennessee 35, North Carolina State 21
Tennessee's offense was clicking on all cylinders, gaining 524 yards, with 331 coming from the passing game. Tyler Bray completed 27 of 41 passes, two for touchdowns.
But the Tennessee defense struggled, giving up 407 yards. North Carolina State threw for 288 yards and rushed for 119.
What saved Tennessee was forcing four N.C. State turnovers. If the Volunteers' defense can continue to do that while their offense stays hot, they could be the surprise team of the SEC East.
South Carolina Gamecocks: C+
Week 1: South Carolina 17, Vanderbilt 13
South Carolina will succeed this season because of its swarming defense and running game. These two factors were the reason why the Gamecocks were able to survive Vanderbilt in their opener.
Marcus Lattimore rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns, and the Gamecocks defense had five sacks and an interception.
If they can get consistent play from quarterback Connor Shaw, the Gamecocks will be playing in the Georgia Dome for the SEC Championship.
However, in Week 1, they had an average performance against an unranked conference opponent.
Ole Miss Rebels: B-
Week 1: Ole Miss 49, Central Arkansas 27
The win for Ole Miss was a nice way to put behind what has been a painful last two seasons. The win was the first for the Rebels to start a season since their 45-14 victory over Memphis in 2009.
The game was a coming-out party for sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace. His 346 combined yards and three touchdowns was enough for Ole Miss to put away Central Arkansas in the second half.
This win may be the start to a 6-6 season and a bowl appearance for the Rebels.
Mississippi State Bulldogs: B
Week 1: Mississippi State 56, Jackson State 9
There was nothing alarming about Mississippi State's Week 1 win, but nothing to get too excited about either. The offense looked like it should against a team like Jackson State, gaining 377 yards, while the defense allowed only 265.
Now let's see how Mississippi State does against Auburn next week.
Missouri Tigers: B
Week 1: Missouri 62, Southeastern Louisiana 10
This was what you would expect an SEC team would do against a team like Southeastern Louisiana.
The Tigers ran for 267 yards and forced three interceptions.
So, just like Mississippi State, nothing was alarming and nothing was that impressive about Week 1 for Missouri.
LSU Tigers: A-
Week 1: LSU 41, North Texas 14
LSU picked up right where it left off. Coming of an 11-0 regular season in 2011, the Tigers showed they still have a swarming defense, great special teams and a rushing attack that will pound opposing defenses.
They forced North Texas into two turnovers (one fumble and one interception), returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown and gained 316 yards and scored three touchdowns on the ground.
However, they still committed 10 penalties and threw an interception, which they should be able to clean up before the heart of their SEC West schedule begins in three weeks.
Arkansas Razorbacks B+
Week 1: Arkansas 49, Jacksonville State 24
The Razorbacks endured quite the offseason, and there is no doubt that they were glad to be playing football.
Tyler Wilson looked sharp, throwing for 367 yards and three touchdowns. The return of Knile Davis was much anticipated, and the stud running back scored one touchdown and rushed for 70 yards on 18 carries.
However, everyone knew the Hogs offense was going to be impressive this year. It's the defense that all eyes need to be on, and that's what prevented Arkansas from receiving an A.
The Gamecocks fought hard and competed well int he first half, but of course the talent level of Arkansas held strong, which is why the won the game. Give credit to Jacksonville state for recording 322 total yards, and had this been an SEC team, things may not have gone over so well for the Razorbacks.
Alabama Crimson Tide: A+
Week 1: Alabama 41, Michigan 14
Alabama had about as flawless a performance as head coach Nick Saban could have envisioned. The Tide intercepted three passes, held Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson to only 227 combined yards and flew out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead.
Alabama's resounding win announced to the SEC and the rest of the college football world that the Crimson Tide are ready to defend their BCS Championship.
Texas A&M Aggies: Incomplete
The Aggies' first game as a member of the SEC, a non-conference clash with Louisiana Tech, was postponed due to Hurricane Isaac.
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