Photo courtesy of Georgia Athletics
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Sports Network) -
ALABAMA: The second-ranked Crimson Tide came into the season with a lot of questions after losing so many key players from last year's national championship team, and answered many of those with a 41-14 romp of No. 8 Michigan in Arlington, Texas. Alabama's defense held Heisman hopeful Denard Robinson and the Wolverine offense to just 269 total yards, and a C.J. Mosley's interception return for a touchdown helped put the game out of reach in the second quarter (31-0). A.J. McCarron threw for 199 yards and two touchdowns, one going to DeAndrew Williams on a 51-yard play in the opening quarter. The Tide's rushing attack didn't missed a beat without Trent Richardson, gaining 232 yards on the night, led by freshman T.J. Yeldon's 111 yards (on just 11 carries) and a touchdown. Alabama opens its home slate this Saturday against Western Kentucky.
ARKANSAS: Razorback nation held their collective breath early on, as they saw their beloved team play Jacksonville State to a 7-7 tie after one quarter, but Arkansas pulled away late for an easy 49-24 win. Tyler Wilson was spectacular all afternoon, completing 19-of-27 passes for 367 yards, tossing 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. Running back Knile Davis returned to the field after missing all of last season due to injury and rushed for 70 yards and a score. Chris Gragg caught 7 balls for 110 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Brandon Mitchell (122 yards) and Javontee Herndon (96 yards, 1 TD) also had big receiving days. Arkansas faces another non-conference foe this week when it takes on ULM in Fayetteville.
AUBURN: Although they led 19-16 at one point early in the fourth quarter, the Tigers ended up dropping a hard-fought battle on a neutral field to nationally-ranked Clemson, 26-19. The Auburn rushing attack gained 180 yards on the day, paced by Tre Morgan's 106 yards on 14 carries. Kiehl Frazier threw for 194 yards and a touchdown, but was sacked twice, threw an interception, and connected on just 11-of-27 passes overall. Emory Blake caught four balls for 109 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown pass from Frazier in the first quarter. Cody Parker drilled four field goals. The Tigers hope to put one in the win column this Saturday when they travel to Starkville to take on Mississippi State in their SEC opener.
FLORIDA: The Gators looked sluggish out of the gate as they found themselves down 7-0 to Bowling Green after one quarter, but they performed much better as the game went on, resulting in a 27-14 season-opening win. Running back Mike Gillislee led the charge with a career-high 148 yards and two touchdowns, both coming in the second quarter. Jeff Driskel saw the majority of the snaps at quarterback, finishing with 114 yards and touchdown on 10-of-16 passing, although Jacoby Brisset also saw time under center (3-of-5, 31 yards). Frankie Hammond finished with three catches for 62 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter to help put the game out of reach. Caleb Sturgis nailed two field goals, including a 51-yarder, but also missed a 27- yard attempt. The Gators will need to play sharper when they open up their SEC schedule on the road against Texas A&M this week.
GEORGIA: The Bulldogs were challenged early on in their season opener against Buffalo, but they overcame a slow start to pull away for a 45-23 victory. Todd Gurley had a huge day, putting together 100 yards and two touchdowns on the ground while adding another score on a 100-yard kickoff return. Heisman- hopeful Aaron Murray threw for 258 yards and three touchdowns, although he completed just 15-of-26 pass attempts. Tavarres King caught six balls for 117 yards and score, while Michael Bennett and Rantavious Wooten also tallied receiving touchdowns. Jarvis Jones, who was a First-Team All-SEC selection a season ago, led the defense with eight tackles and 2.5 TFL. Georgia opens its SEC schedule this week when it takes on conference newcomer Missouri.
KENTUCKY: The Wildcats snapped their streak of five straight years with a win in their season opener when they fell to nationally-ranked Louisville, 32-14. Playing catch-up for most of the game, quarterback Maxwell Smith put up solid numbers, completing 35-of-50 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns. La'Rod King led the teams in both catches (eight) and receiving yards (77) and was on the receiving end of a five-yard touchdown strike from Smith. CoShik Williams gained 62 yards on 10 carries, while Raymond Sanders netted 38 yards on just three attempts. The defense allowed Louisville to gain 466 yards. UK hopes that a date with Kent State this Saturday will put it on the right track.
LSU: In its best offensive showing since 2007, LSU opened up its season with a 41-14 win over North Texas. More than half of the Tigers 508 yards came on the ground, with Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue combining for 264 yards. Hilliard also added a pair of rushing touchdowns. Zach Mettenberger was efficient in his first career start, completing 19-of-26 passes with a touchdown. Eight of those passes were completed to Jarvis Landry, who finished with 82 receiving yards. Safety Eric Reid showed he is capable of stepping up in Tyrann Mathieu's absence, recording seven tackles and making an interception. LSU will host Washington this Saturday.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: For the second straight season, Mississippi State opened its season with a 50-point outburst as it defeated Jackson State in a rout, 56-9. Not only did the defense do its job in keeping the Tigers at bay but it also generated plenty of points, with Darius Slay and Matthew Wells each returning an interception for a touchdown. Tyler Russell didn't need to do much, going 15-of-24 for 185 yards and a pair of touchdowns before being spelled for his backup, Dak Prescott. Eight different players played a role in the team tallying 202 rushing yards, paced by Derrick Milton (eight carries, 65 yards, one TD). Marcus Green and Chad Bumphis each caught a touchdown pass from Russell. The Bulldogs are now 4-0 in season openers under coach Dan Mullen. They'll look to keep the momentum going this week when they take on Auburn at home.
MISSOURI: The Tigers scored four touchdowns in the first eight minutes of their game against Southeastern Louisiana, and ended up cruising to an easy 62-10 victory. Marcus Murphy scored on two punt returns -- one 72 yards and the other 70 yards -- matching a school record with two return scores in a game. Kendial Lawrence rushed the ball just 10 times but managed to gain 121 yards and score a pair of touchdowns, including a 76-yard scamper in the first quarter. James Franklin didn't need to do much before being spelled for his backup, throwing for 131 yards and a touchdown and adding another 39 yards on the ground. The defense was solid as well, scoring on an interception return and a fumble return for the unit's first two-TD game since 2006. The road gets much tougher for Missouri this weekend, as it faces nationally-ranked Georgia.
OLE MISS: In Hugh Freeze's first game as head coach, Ole Miss took care of business against Central Arkansas, 49-27. Sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace was nearly perfect on his passes (20-of-24), compiling 264 yards and two touchdowns. He also led the team with 82 rushing yards, which included a 25- yard touchdown run to open up the scoring in the first quarter. Donte Moncrief found himself on the end of a 53-yard touchdown pass from Wallace and finished with a team-high eight receptions and 104 yards. Jamal Mosley (4 rec, 79 yds) also caught a touchdown pass. The Rebels piled up 565 total yards, their most since Sept. 25, 2010 against Fresno State. The defense recorded four sacks and returned a fumble for a touchdown. Up next for Ole Miss is a home date with UTEP this Saturday.
SOUTH CAROLINA: The Gamecocks opened their season last Thursday with a gritty road win over Vanderbilt, 17-13. Marcus Lattimore bounced back strong in his first game since suffering a knee injury last October, carrying the ball 23 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Connor Shaw went just 7- of-11 for 67 yards, but he helped in the ground game as well with 92 yards rushing. South Carolina has now won 13 straight season openers and it improved to 18-4 all-time versus Vanderbilt. Next up for USC is its home opener against East Carolina this Saturday.
TENNESSEE: After going just 5-7 in 2011, the Volunteers came out strong to open the 2012 season with a 35-21 win over NC State. Tyler Bray appeared to be in mid-season form, completing 27-of-41 passes for 333 yards with a pair of long touchdowns. Cordarrelle Patterson caught six passes for 93 yards, including a 41-yard TD in the first quarter to open up the scoring. Zach Rogers was on the receiving end of a 72-yard bomb from Bray, and Rajion Neal helped control the clock with 22 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown. Tennessee is poised to start the season at 2-0 as it faces Georgia State in its home opener this Saturday.
TEXAS A&M: The Aggies were idle during the first week of action. They will kick off their season this Saturday with a home game against nationally-ranked Florida. The game marks A&M's first ever as a member of the SEC.
VANDERBILT: The Commodores fought hard against the nation's ninth-ranked team last Thursday, but ultimately fell to South Carolina in a 17-13 final. Jordan Rodgers completed 13-of-23 passes for 214 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Jordan Matthews was the primary beneficiary of Rodgers' passes, hauling in eight balls for 147 yards, including a 78-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. Carey Spear connected on two field goals, including a 44- yarder in the third quarter to give his team a 13-10 lead. The loss is Vandy's 18th all-time against the Gamecocks in 22 meetings. The 'Dores will try once again to post their first win of the season this week on the road at Northwestern.