SEC Headed for Season of Chaos in 2014

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SEC Headed for Season of Chaos in 2014
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Remember when Alabama (154 votes) and Auburn (75 votes) were the picked as the odds-on favorites to win the SEC title by the assembled members of the media in Hoover, Alabama, in July?

Yeah, about that.

Week 1 in the SEC taught us one thing: We're in for a wild season.

SEC East favorite South Carolina was upended at home in the opener 52-28 by a Texas A&M team led by first-year starter Kenny Hill that was picked to finish next-to-last in the SEC West.

Alabama was pushed to the limit in a 33-23 win over a West Virginia team that committed a litany of unforced errors in the second half, including dropped passes by receivers, bone-headed penalties and a snap over quarterback Clint Trickett's head in the red zone.

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Arkansas RB Alex Collins

Defending SEC champ Auburn's defense looked like it was playing without a defensive line in the first half, as Arkansas' running game sliced and diced the Tigers before head coach Gus Malzahn's crew pulled away to win 45-21.

Not many people predicted any of those things happening.

The most impressive team of the week was No. 12 Georgia, which topped No. 16 Clemson 45-21 between the hedges in Athens. Yeah, running back Todd Gurley scored four touchdowns and generally looked like a freak. But what was more impressive was the Georgia defense, which shut down Clemson in the second half.

Not bad for new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

Those Aggies weren't so bad either.

Hill established himself as a true Heisman candidate, setting Texas A&M records for passing yards (511) and attempts (60) in his first career start. What's more important is that the defense gave up "only" 433 yards—which isn't great, but certainly enough to keep the Aggies competitive if the offense plays the way it did against the Gamecocks.

"That team is so much better than us, it wasn't funny," Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said, according to Texas A&M's official website.

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Arkansas QB Kenny Hill

The SEC will bring the weird this year because, while many teams are talented, they all have pretty glaring holes that will lead to inconsistency, uncertainty and a lot of fun.

Defense doesn't win championships anymore, just enough defense does.

What we learned in Week 1 is that Texas A&M and Auburn probably have "enough."

LSU's passing game and offensive line were both hit-or-miss in the 28-24 win over Wisconsin, which will put a ton of pressure on that defense as the season progresses. Sure, quarterback Anthony Jennings displayed big-play ability and helped guide the team off the deck, but 9-of-21 passing won't cut it on a week-in, week-out basis.

Ole Miss' defense was all over the place in its season-opening 35-13 win over Boise State, but will it show up to overcome quarterback Bo Wallace's inconsistencies on a regular basis? Probably not, at least at that level.

Alabama's defense is spotty at best, which isn't a good situation for the Tide, considering the offense—while effective—was conservative under Sims.

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Alabama DC Kirby Smart and head coach Nick Saban

That wasn't a surprise to head coach Nick Saban.

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"Are we as talented as some of [Alabama's] previous teams at critical positions? We don't have the experience," he said. "So we're going to grow into those things. I knew going in. You knew going in, but you just ignored it. I couldn't."

Does that mean the SEC won't make the College Football Playoff?

It's unlikely, because one team is bound to get hot and produce a strong resume for the selection committee.

If Week 1 is any indication, though, it's going to be a wild ride getting there with favorites having just as many holes as the midlevel teams.

Buckle up your chin strap. It's about to get fun.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.  

 

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