Photo courtesy of Kentucky Athletics
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Sports Network) -
ALABAMA: The Crimson Tide did what they were supposed to do the week after being named the No. 1 team in the country and blanked Western Kentucky in their home opener, 35-0. WKU had an effective game plan to slow down the Alabama rushing attack, which gained only 103 yards on 31 carries, but A.J. McCarron stepped up his game as a result. The quarterback completed 14-of-19 passes for 219 yards and four touchdowns on the afternoon, with two each going to Kevin Norwood (three receptions, 92 yards) and Christion Jones (three catches, 47 yards). The pair became the first UA receiving tandem to score two TDs in the same game since 1950. The Tide defense was dominant, holding the Hilltoppers to just 224 yards while registering their fourth shutout since the beginning of the 2011 season. Alabama will try to move to 3-0 on Saturday when it hits the road to battle conference foe Arkansas.
ARKANSAS: The Razorbacks experienced one of the worst defeats in school history when they fell to ULM, 34-31, in overtime on Saturday. Following a Mekale McKay touchdown early in the third quarter to go up 28-7, Arkansas appeared to be on its way to an easy win, but ULM came storming back to tie the game in the final minute of regulation and won on a fourth-down touchdown run by QB Kolton Browning. Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson completed 11-of-20 passes for 196 yards and a pair of scores, although he had to leave in the second half due to injury. While his replacement Brandon Allen threw a touchdown pass, he was off the mark with most of his passes (6-of-20, 85 yards, INT), which helped ULM climb back into the game. Knile Davis rushed for 62 yards and a score, and Chris Gragg (seven receptions, 83 yards), Cobi Hamilton (six receptions, 99 yards, TD), and McKay (two receptions, 74 yards, TD) were all productive as receivers. Arkansas (1-1) will try to bounce back next week at home, but the task will be incredibly difficult as it faces No. 1 Alabama.
AUBURN: After Onterio McCalebb returned a second-half kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, the Tigers led their SEC opener with Mississippi State, 10-7, but the Bulldogs closed the game out with 21 consecutive points as Auburn eventually fell, 28-10. The offense struggled all afternoon, netting just 216 total yards. Kiehl Frazier completed 13-of-22 pass attempts for 125 yards and he tossed three interceptions. Quan Bray was on the receiving end of nearly half of Frazier's completions, hauling in six catches for 50 yards. The AU running game could not get anything going either, as the ball carriers were bottled up for just 2.3 yards per carry on 39 totes. One of the few bright spots was defensive back Demtruce McNeal, who tallied a career-high 18 tackles. Auburn will try for the third time to notch its first win of the year in its home opener this Saturday against ULM.
FLORIDA: The 24th-ranked Gators spoiled Texas A&M's first conference game as a member of the SEC, mounting a fourth-quarter comeback to win, 20-17. Florida (2-0, 1-0 SEC) scored the final 13 points of the game for the second week in a row, shutting out A&M in the second half. Mike Gillislee was key in the running game, gaining 83 yards and scoring a pair of touchdowns, including the game-winner early in the fourth quarter. Jeff Driskel was efficient in his first game since officially being named the starter (13-of-16, 162 yards, no INTs), although he did not find the end zone. The UF defense was solid all afternoon, allowing the Aggies to gain 334 yards, but the unit was impenetrable in the second half, holding the home team to a mere 65 yards after intermission. Florida's tough early-season schedule continues on Saturday when they head to Knoxville to take on No. 23 Tennessee.
GEORGIA: After finding themselves down 20-17 in the third quarter, the Bulldogs finished their game against Missouri by scoring 24 unanswered points to spoil the Tigers' first conference game as a member of the SEC, winning 41-20. Aaron Murray completed 22-of-35 passes for 242 yards, tossing three touchdowns and an interception. Marlon Brown was the top receiving threat on the day, hauling in eight balls for 106 yards and two scores. Todd Gurley and Ken Malcome each ran in touchdowns. All-American Jarvis Jones got in on the action on the defensive side of the ball, recording nine tackles, two sacks, an interception and a forced fumble. Georgia will try to move to 3-0 on Saturday when it plays host to Florida Atlantic.
KENTUCKY: After a disappointing effort in the season opener against Louisville, the Kentucky offense came out firing against Kent State en route to a 47-14 win. The unit amassed 539 yards of total offense, with Maxwell Smith having a career day under center with 354 yards (30-of-39) and four touchdowns. Aaron Boyd shined in the receiving game with 11 catches for 100 yards and a score, though La'Rod Kind, Gene McCaskill and DeMarcus Sweat also caught touchdown passes. Raymond Sanders led an effective rushing attack for the Wildcats with a career-high 115 yards, which included a 67-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Miles Simpson recorded seven tackles and had one of the team's three sacks on the night. Next up for UK is a home date with Western Kentucky this Saturday.
LSU: The Tigers improved to 2-0 behind another dominant performance over the weekend as they trounced visiting Washington in a 41-3 final. LSU found itself in a 3-0 hole early on, but those would be the only points the team would surrender, allowing the Huskies to net just 183 yards of total offense (26 rushing). Alfred Blue anchored the rushing attack with 101 yards and a touchdown, although Michael Ford (48 yards) and Kenny Hilliard (46 yards, two TDs) also got into the mix. Zach Mettenberger was efficient with his 18 passes, completing 12 of them for 195 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown to Kadron Boone in the third quarter. The LSU defense recorded four sacks of Washington QB Keith Price, and picked him off once. The Tigers will try to move to 3-0 this week as they welcome the Idaho Vandals to town.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: In a very impressive home opener on Saturday, the Bulldogs moved to 2-0 on the young season by defeating Auburn, 28-10. Mississippi State surrendered a long kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half to fall behind, 10-7, but finished the game with 21 unanswered points. A big reason for the late success was Tyler Russell, who finished 20-of-29 passing for 222 yards with three touchdowns, a pair of which went to Marcus Green (four catches, 54 yards). The junior signal-caller is off to a great start to the season, logging five TD passes and zero interception in his first two games. LaDarius Perkins was effective in the ground game, racking up 83 yards on 14 carries while finding the end zone in the fourth quarter to help seal the victory. It was MSU's first win in an SEC opener since 1999, and the team will try to remain unbeaten when it travels to Troy this Saturday.
MISSOURI: In front of its home crowd and holding a 20-17 lead over nationally- ranked Georgia late in the third quarter, it looked as though Missouri was going to hang on for a win in its first-ever conference game as a member of the SEC. The defense fell apart late however, surrendering the game's final 24 points as the Tigers lost, 41-20. James Franklin helped get his team out to an early lead behind 269 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns, but he also threw and interception and lost a fumble. Marcus Lucas caught six passes for 88 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown late in the second quarter. The Tigers' rushing attack wasn't great (102 yards on 39 attempts), although Marcus Murphy gained 43 yards on just six carries. Missouri (1-1, 0-1) will play Arizona State at home this Saturday.
OLE MISS: Behind a four-touchdown performance from Bo Wallace, the Rebels downed the UTEP Miners over the weekend, 28-10, moving to 2-0 on the season and already matching their win total from all of 2011. Wallace went 15-of-22 for 174 yards and three touchdowns. Two of his passing scores came on 50-plus yard throws to Donte Moncrief and Jaylen Walton early in the game. Wallace also added 53 yards and a score on the ground. Jeff Scott gained 113 yards on 13 carries to pace a rushing attack that totaled 332 yards on the game. The 77 total points in the Rebels' first two games are the most they have scored in its opening two games since 2009. Ole Miss will try to move to 3-0 this week when it plays host to No. 14 Texas.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Even without starting quarterback Connor Shaw, the ninth- ranked Gamecocks cruised to an easy 48-10 victory over East Carolina on Saturday afternoon. Filling in for Shaw, who did not play due to a bruised shoulder, was sophomore Dylan Thompson, who broke out with 330 yards passing and three touchdowns. South Carolina threw five touchdown passes on the day, with third-string QB Seth Strickland and wide receiver Ace Sanders also contributing passing scores. Tight end Rory Anderson (90 yards) and wideout D.L. Moore (45 yards) each caught two TDs. After earning SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors for his performance in the season opener. Marcus Lattimore was held to just 40 yards on 13 carries, but he did manage to find found the end zone once. The Gamecocks will try to move to 3-0 this week when they play host to UAB.
TENNESSEE: The Volunteers stayed perfect on the young season by posting a convincing 51-13 win over Georgia State in their home opener on Saturday. Tyler Bray was exceptional for the second week in a row, as he completed 18- of-20 passes for 310 yards and four touchdowns. Justin Hunter continued to be Bray's favorite target in the passing game, hauling in eight balls for 146 yards and three scores. Hunter now has 17 catches in the first two games. The Tennessee rushing attack was solid as well, gaining 184 yards, paced by 65 yards and two touchdowns by Rajion Neal. Quenshaun Watson also rushed in a score. The UT defense played well as expected, holding Georgia State to 263 yards of total offense. The 23rd-ranked Vols will open up their SEC slate this Saturday when they host No. 18 Florida.
TEXAS A&M: The Aggies responded well early on in their first-ever conference game as a member of the SEC, using the home crowd and some opportunistic plays to go up 17-10 in the first half against nationally-ranked Florida. The offense sputtered after halftime though, scoring zero points while gaining just 65 yards as the Gators came back to win, 20-17. In his first career start, Johnny Manziel was impressive in completing 23-of-30 passes for 173 yards, while adding another 60 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Christine Michael was stacked up at the line of scrimmage most of the afternoon (13 carries, 33 yards), although he did find the end zone midway through the second quarter to give A&M (0-1, 0-1 SEC) its biggest lead of the game at 17-7. The defense recorded eight sacks of Florida QB Jeff Driskel, three credited to Damontre Moore. The Aggies will head to Dallas on Saturday for a non-conference bout with SMU.
VANDERBILT: After dropping a tough game on opening night to nationally-ranked South Carolina, Vanderbilt's struggles continued as it fell to 0-2 with a loss at Northwestern on Saturday, 23-13. The Commodores tied the game at 13-13 on a Carey Spear field goal midway through the fourth quarter, but Northwestern closed out the game by scoring 10 unanswered points. Jordan Rodgers completed 17-of-33 passes for 217 yards, which including a 22-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Matthews in the first quarter for the team's only touchdown of the game. Rodgers was also the team's leading rusher, gaining 51 yards on the ground. Matthews (75 yards) and Chris Boyd (76 yards) each caught six passes. Vandy only completed 4-of-15 third-down conversions. The good news is their first win seems to be on the horizon this week as the Commodores play host to FCS foe Presbyterian.