SEC Football: 7 Biggest Surprises from September

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterOctober 1, 2012

SEC Football: 7 Biggest Surprises from September

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    Ferris Bueller said it best.

    "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

    Football is life in SEC country, and those immortal words ring true now that the first month of the season is in the books.

    In this first month, we've seen Tennessee hop back onto the national stage, only to fall back to relative anonymity; Florida, Georgia and South Carolina all make their cases to be in the Top 10; and Alabama prove that it is still "Alabama."

    What were the seven biggest surprises of the first month of the season?

    My picks are in this slideshow.

Alabama's Dominance

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    When you have six starters on defense, your top two wide receivers and a Heisman finalist at running back all leave from a BCS National Championship team, you're supposed to struggle at least a little bit.

    Unless you're Alabama.

    The Crimson Tide didn't miss a beat during the first month of the season, and actually look BETTER than they did last season, if that's even possible.

    The defense has posted two shutouts and shut down a potent Michigan offense on opening night, while the offense has quietly picked up where it left off as a model of efficiency.

    Alabama already got over two of its three biggest hurdles of the season, although Arkansas proved to be more of a speed bump than a hurdle after getting throttled 52-0 in Fayetteville by the Tide.

    There was some doubt heading into the season as to whether Alabama is the best team in the country. September taught us that there is no doubt.

Florida Is Back

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    Remember when Florida was one win from earning back-to-back SEC championships and a trip to Pasadena to take home a third crystal football in four years?

    Alabama ended those dreams in the 2009 SEC Championship Game, and since then, the Gators have been stewing in relative anonymity in the nation's strongest conference.

    Until September 2012.

    Florida sits at 4-0 after the first month of the season and has solved its most important issues from the offseason.

    Mike Gillislee is second in the SEC in rushing, averaging 100.5 yards per game; and quarterback Jeff Driskel proved that he can be a game-manager or a playmaker, depending on what the game dictates.

    The defense hasn't missed a beat, either.

    After feeling Texas A&M out in the first half of the SEC opener, the Gators held the potent Aggie attack to just 49 yards in the second half and finished the month in the top 20 in the country in total defense.

    The Gators face a big test this weekend in the LSU Tigers. If they win, it could signify that the Gators aren't just relevant in the SEC, but that they're relevant in the national title picture.

Arkansas' Demise

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    I'll admit it, I was on board the Arkansas bandwagon and thought that the Razorbacks were talented enough to contend for the national title.

    I was wrong, and it has nothing to do with who the head coach is.

    This Arkansas team just isn't very good.

    New defensive coordinator Paul Haynes has proved to be more of a liability than previous defensive coordinator Willy Robinson, and Arkansas still can't block anyone—not even your Bleacher Report college football lead writer staff.

    The team looks disinterested in playing football after just one month of the season, and with games at Auburn, South Carolina, Mississippi State and vs. LSU still on the docket, that's bad news for the Razorbacks.

    Even if you didn't buy the Arkansas hype, I don't think anyone thought that the season would be totally lost before October 1.

Georgia's Offense

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    Everyone was hyping Georgia's veteran defense coming into the season, but the dismissal of Isaiah Crowell and an inexperienced offensive line raised concerns about the offense.

    There isn't a concern anymore.

    Georgia's offense has been lethal in 2012, averaging 536 yards per game—tops in the SEC.

    The freshman duo of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall have emerged as big-play threats at the running back position, and quarterback Aaron Murray has tossed 12 touchdowns to only three picks.

    The defense hasn't been great, but now that the early-season suspensions have cycled through, it should return to form in a hurry. This will allow wide receiver/cornerback Malcolm Mitchell to be more of a factor on the offensive side of the football.

    Considering what we've seen so far this season, that should terrify opposing defensive coordinators.

Auburn's Inability to Have a Functional Offense

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    Auburn's offense finished 100th out of 120 teams last season in total offense, but new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler's hybrid pro-style was supposed to fix that.

    Instead, it's been worse.

    Auburn currently ranks 117th out of 124 teams in total offense with an average of 297.8 yards per game.

    Quarterback Kiehl Frazier has not lived up to the hype that he generated this spring, is slow with his decision-making, and has been careless with the football.

    It's not all bad for Auburn, though.

    The defense showed signs of life last week vs. LSU, and with games against Arkansas, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt coming up, things could turn around in a hurry.

Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel

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    Johnny Manziel surprised the college football world when he won the starting quarterback job at Texas A&M prior to the season, and that decision has already proved to be the right one for head coach Kevin Sumlin.

    Manziel has been phenomenal this season through the air and on the ground. "Johnny Football" leads the SEC in total offense with 365 yards per game, and shows no signs of slowing down.

    He's an electric dual-threat quarterback who has already established himself as a force to be reckoned with for opposing defensive coordinators only four games into his career

LSU Looking Sluggish

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    While Alabama has looked like a machine during the first month of the season, it's counterpart from January's BCS National Championship Game looks sluggish at best.

    LSU has struggled in its last two wins, a squeaker against Auburn two weeks ago and last week against Towson from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).

    I'm willing to look past the struggle on the Plains, though. Road wins in the SEC are hard to come by, and especially against division rivals who are playing inspired football.

    But Towson? Really, Les Miles?

    Luckily for LSU, the Tigers are still sitting at 5-0 and in control of their own destiny. However, if they don't start playing better football, that destiny won't include a return trip to the SEC Championship Game in 2012.