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SEC Recap: Week Two

Georgia and ‘Bama make statements, Kentucky makes us laugh, and Mike Leach ... what the hell was that?!

NCAA Football: Auburn at Georgia
Georgia’s whipping of Auburn Saturday cemented them as favorites in the SEC East, but we’ll know if the Bulldogs are the toast of the conference when they square off with Alabama in two weeks.

Georgia 27 vs. Auburn 6

I imagine this is the Georgia we’ll see for the remainder of the season.

If last week’s lackluster performance at Arkansas was a wake-up call, Saturday’s wood-shedding of Auburn could be an epiphany. If so, the East is settled, and the October 17 showdown between Georgia and Alabama will be a preview of the SEC title game.

Kirby Smith’s defense was a beast all night, making life very uncomfortable for quarterback Bo Nix and the Tiger offense, which compiled only 216 total yards. And here’s a little extra sting to go with that: when ranked in the Top 10 of the AP Poll, each of Auburn’s losses by 21 points or more have been at the hands of Georgia.

Alabama 52 vs. Texas A&M 24

When Mac Jones has time to throw, which should not be a problem for most of the season, I don’t know how you cover Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith, John Metchie III, and whatever additional four- or five-star dude Nick Saban and Steve Sarkisian wanna throw out there.

It’s an utter embarrassment of riches that anyone outside of the Chiefs’ locker room would covet, and I’d be surprised if anyone from the East gives ‘Bama a run for the conference and its chance to place a team in the playoff.

Georgia could prove to be a stiff test in two weeks, but this Tide offense, despite key losses to the NFL, seems more than talented enough to get Saban within at least reaching distance of his record-breaking seventh national title.

Florida 38 vs. South Carolina 24

I’m not quite ready to anoint Florida as the favorite in the East, but if they make it to Atlanta for the conference championship, it’ll be on the arm of Kyle Trask, who threw for four more touchdowns against South Carolina and now has 10 on the season, nearly half as many as he had all of last season.

Ranked opponents await the Gators three of the next four weeks – including the Outdoor Cocktail Party matchup with Georgia – so we’ll know a lot more about Dan Mullen’s team and the reality of its aspirations by mid-November, including whether Trask’s hot start is an aberration projected against lesser defenses or the catalyst for a special season in Gainesville.

Arkansas 21 vs. Mississippi State 14

Congratulations, Mike Leach, on what might be the most bipolar start to an SEC introduction.

Last week, you waxed the defending national champions in their house by 10 points without having to run for more than 10 yards. Seven days later, you lose at home to a program that has now won its first conference game since 2017.

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Mississippi State
You gotta feel a little good for the Razorbacks, right? Yeah? No?

What’s next? In the world of Leach, you never know, but if you ask me, you can’t help but feel good for Barry Odom, who this writer wanted so badly to succeed at his alma mater.

Ultimately, the guy may not be head coach material, but man, he can maestro a defense.

Tennessee 35 vs. Missouri 12

I agree with fellow RMN staffer Brandon Kiley: Eli Drinkwitz’s experiment at quarterback should be over. If I’m Drinkwitz, I ride Connor Bazelak the rest of the season, and the sooner the decision is solidified, the better. And this is not to speak ill of Shawn Robinson, who would seem to be the much better fit for Drinkwitz’s constraint-driven offense, at least as the run-pass option element is concerned.

Both Bazelak and Robinson were highly regarded prospects out of high school. Robinson has the potential for dual purposes; Bazelak, the no. 10-ranked pro-style quarterback recruit according to Rivals, looks much more comfortable in the pocket. Some of Drinkwitz’s pre-snap hijinks that would presumably accentuate Robinson’s ability to run won’t be nearly as useful with Bazelak under center, but the offense just looks different with him in the game.

As it did (understandably) against Alabama, the Robinson offense on Saturday looked rushed, chaotic, and, at times, confused, and he exited the game for good to start the second quarter with zero passing yards. By comparison, while Bazelak wasn’t perfect, both figuratively and statistically – the interception deep in Tennessee territory was deflating, and there were a number of head-scratching drops – the increased efficiency and downright energy of the unit as a whole was noticeable. And let’s not exclude the beauty of that completion to Logan Christopherson.

If Mizzou’s loss to Tennessee didn’t help crystallize the quarterback situation, it should be a painful reminder to us fans – something Drinkwitz and his staff now know – that Jeremy Pruitt is much more qualified than Butch Jones to maximize the potential of highly-rated recruiting classes.

LSU 41 vs. Vanderbilt 7

Hey, LSU, there you are! Good to see you again.

We all know you’ve lost a lot to the pro ranks from that dream team of 2019, and we feel for ya … sort of.

Last week was, uh, just terrible, and you probably shouldn’t be ranked in the Top 20, but that’s the polls. Or maybe you should … hell, it’s 2020, so anything goes, right?

Which means you’ll lose to Missouri next week at home and then get wiped by Florida, Auburn, and Alabama to identify with the ’08 Tigers, which had a rough time following up in their predecessors’ footsteps.

Ole Miss 42 vs. Kentucky 41

That karma, man … it can be a bia, amiright?

I’ll never be one to demean a player – college or professional – for celebrating the skill it takes to score a touchdown, but the celebration should never start prior to the 5-yard-line … let alone the 30.

I give you Kentucky senior running back Asim Rose, who, besides from perhaps knowing better, decided to prematurely celebrate what should have been a gorgeous 75-yard touchdown run through the Ole Miss defense by throwing up the peace sign and pointing at someone roughly around the 28-yard-line, as if to say, “Nah, you’re not catching this!”

Uh, they did. Inside the five. And the result was just the beginning of what can happen when aforementioned karma bites you in the ass.

Two plays later, Rose fumbled just shy of the goal line, giving the Rebels the ball to erase what would have been a tied ballgame. In fairness to Rose, the gaff didn’t exactly dictate the tone of the game – Kentucky still rushed for more than 400 yards, blew a 14-point lead in the second half, and then missed an extra point upon scoring first in overtime – but it’s hard to ignore as one of those what-if factors in a one-point loss.