Sep 8, 2012; Little Rock, AR, USA; Louisiana Monroe Warhawks quarterback Kolton Browning (15) celebrates after scoring a touchdown to defeat the Arkansas Razorbacks as wide receiver Je'Ron Hamm (86) and offensive lineman Jon Fisher (78) join in the celebration at War Memorial Stadium. Warhawks defeated the Razorbacks 34-31. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE
The key stories in the SEC this weekend were the newcomers' performances and one wild finish in Fayetteville. Otherwise, there was an ample serving of non-conference blowouts and the opportunity to learn a little bit more about teams that fall in the rung just below Alabama and LSU.
Mississippi State 28
Leading into the ballgame, the Bulldogs had dropped 10 of its previous 11 to Auburn and had failed to win an SEC opener since 1999. The win also marked Dan Mullen's first win over an SEC West school not named "Ole Miss". The Dogs were led by junior quarterback Tyler Russell's 20-29, 222 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT effort. Auburn, in turn, executed horribly on offense. Quarterback Kiehl Frazier completed only 13 passes for 125 yards to go with three interceptions and two lost fumbles. The Tigers better find some answers quickly because that scrappy team from Monroe, Louisiana visits next week followed by a visit from that dominant team from Baton Rouge. Mississippi State needs to retain focus with an evening trip to Troy. Win there, and the Dogs have a great shot at starting the season 5-0 before a visit from the Volunteers in October.
East Carolina 10
South Carolina 48
New starting quarterback? No problem for the Cocks as backup Dylan Thompson slung it around for 330 yards and three touchdowns in the blowout of East Carolina. How was Thompson rewarded for his performance? Ol' Ball Coach announced that Connor Shaw will get the start next week against UAB if his shoulder is good to go. If you'll recall, the Cocks only threw for 67 yards in their Week 1 victory in Nashville, so this quarterback platoon is somewhat puzzling. In the running game, Marcus Lattimore was given a light day's work with only 13 carries, but he scored a touchdown tying him for the school record in touchdowns with 33.
Texas A&M 17
Plenty of analysis to come from A&M's season debut and first game as a member of the SEC.
Western Kentucky 0
Saban was correct in that we all were taking the Hilltoppers too lightly. The Tide failed to cover the 40 point spread and instead only drilled the Hills by 35. AJ McCarron was insanely efficient with four touchdowns on 14 completions for 219 yards. The Alabama pride of running back lions got to bask in the sun and be lazy for the most part as McCarron did his work and the defense was opportunistic with four forced turnovers. It will be interesting to see what kind of Hog team shows up when Alabama makes the trip to Fayetteville on Saturday for their league opener. If anything, I look forward to some nice scoldings from Saban during the week.
Georgia State 13
I was unable to catch any live action or clips of this game, but the Vol passing attack is starting to look mighty dangerous. Tyler Bray was 18 of 20 for 310 yards and four touchdowns. After a week that saw WR Cordarrelle Patterson assert himself as a star, Week 2 belonged to WR Justin Hunter and his three touchdown haul. Week 3 for the Vols has College Gameday and the Florida Gators coming to Knoxville for what should be a raucous evening game at Neyland.
This is the one that has everyone talking. Louisiana-Monroe earned their first win over a ranked team since joining the FBS in 1994. The win also marked the first victory over a top 10 team in Sun Belt Conference history. Warhawk quarterback Kolton Browning dropped a useful 481 yards of total offense highlighted by an overtime game winning scramble that Hog fans will see in nightmares for years to come. It was a nightmarish second half for Arkansas that had to play without quarterback Tyler Wilson who was taken out with a head injury. Arkansas let a 28-7 lead in the middle of the third quarter squander to a tie that sent the game to overtime and eventual loss. Things better get fixed quickly as the number one team in the land comes to visit on Saturday. I have a feeling one Robert Petrino's name might be mentioned a time or two on Arkansas sports radio this week.
Just your requisite SEC mantra of running it right down the throat of opposition from a "dandy boy" conference. While the Tigers don't have any true Heisman threats in their backfield, they are four deep of guys that would start almost anywhere else in the country. I'm told the Huskie front seven flew home in the belly of the plane under pounds and pounds of ice to alleviate the pain inflicted by the pack of Tiger backs. Did anyone see Tyrann Mathieu in the stands? Just... odd. Jimmy Buffet hat on and all. LSU has a few easy weeks ahead before a trip to the Swamp on October 6th.
Ole Miss 28
The Rebs we're efficient and got a nice performance out of quarterback Bo Wallace leading the offense to 538 yards of offense. Ole Miss hosts Texas this week, so look for Highland Park brawls with floppy-haired kids named Hoyt in the Grove.
Kent State 14
Another newcomer to the SEC, another blown second half lead. Georgia trailed 17-9 early in this game before slamming on the accelerator and running the Tigers out of their own stadium. Has anyone been able to reach Mizzou DT Sheldon Richardson for comment re: "old man football"? The SEC East is completely up for grabs at this juncture with Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Florida all capable of ending the conference season in Atlanta.
Another second half lead squandered. The Wildcats of Northwestern poured in 17 fourth quarter points to take down Vanderbilt in the battle of the trust funds. This summer's trendy Vandy is now 0-2 to start the year. They get a breather this week hosting Presbyterian before a Week 4 visit to Athens.
I'm sure I missed plenty of good nuggets in this intentionally brief wrap up. Fire away in the comments and go enjoy some BBQ and beers.