After one week of play, how do the SEC football programs stack up? Here's my take. Note that as far as possible, I'm trying to focus on how teams performed in week one rather than on preseason expectations. This is, of course, easier to do with teams that played meaningful competition than teams that have yet to be tested. There were several meaningful games this weekend, though, so we do have some solid evidence to use.
Are the Dawgs for real? Although the defense struggled a bit early, you have to be impressed with the adjustments Jeremy Pruitt made in the second half, when the Dawgs completely shut down Clemson's offense. The Dawgs run game was every bit as good as advertised, and Hutson Mason played competently in a game-manager role. I was very impressed with this team's opening showing.
2. Texas A&M Aggies
Another team that looked better than advertised in its opener was Texas A&M, which routed South Carolina despite being heavy underdogs in the away contest. The Aggies don't appear to have lost much potency on offense despite losing some talented players to the NFL, and the defense looked better than advertised. Last season, this would have been a top-five team if it had had even a mediocre defense, and it appears to be on the way to righting the ship on that side of the ball. Watch out, SEC West.
3. LSU Tigers
The Tigers struggled early on in their game against Wisconsin, but as the game progressed they were able to clamp down on defense and begin moving the ball consistently on offense en route to a comeback win over a strong opening opponent.
Although it was able to ride a dominant run game to victory, the Tide's defense and special teams looked mildly suspect against West Virginia. How much of that owes to how good West Virginia is will be determined over the course of the year.
The Tigers showed some defensive cracks early against Arkansas, but they eventually pulled away from their overmatched opponent. The offense looked as potent as expected, even with Nick Marshall sitting for most of the game.
It's unclear what kind of program Boise St. will have as it moves into the post-Chris Peterson era, but although the game was close early, the Rebels dominated late to post a fairly convincing win. Despite putting up nearly 400 passing yards, Bo Wallace did throw three interceptions, so ball security remains an issue for the notorious gunslinger.
The Gamecocks defense looked overmatched against Texas A&M. Can the Gamecocks right the ship with seemingly worse defensive personnel than they've had in recent years, or is this going to be a down year for the program? This weekend's game against a good East Carolina team should begin to provide some answers.
The Bulldogs looked very good against an overmatched Southern Miss. team.
The Gators' game against Idaho was cancelled due to unsafe field conditions. It's unclear how the two teams will resolve the content.
The Vols won easily against an overmatched Utah St. team, but a glance at the box score reveals some concerning numbers. UT averaged less than three yards per carry, which reflects preseason concerns over a young offensive line. Justin Worley only averaged 7.2 yards per attempt, which suggests the continued lack of a vertical passing game.
11. Missouri Tigers
The Tigers were underwhelming in their opener against South Dakota St. They only outgained their opponent by around 30 yards and never really pulled away in what should have been an easier win.
The Hogs were competitive early against Auburn, but they remain one-dimensional on offense (Brandon Allen averaged less than six yards per attempt), and Auburn was able to dominate in the second half as a result.
The 'Cats looked good in their opener, but the opponent was a terrible FCS team, so the jury is still out on this team.
The jury is definitely not still out on Vandy, which appears to clearly be back to being Vandy after being crushed by Temple. With James Franklin getting a big win in his opener and currently recruiting at an extremely high level at Penn. St., I think we're going to quickly realize how much of Vandy's recent success was due to Franklin being an elite coach.