Week 1 might be “the best college football opening weekend ever,” but for the SEC, it’s probably one commissioner Greg Sankey wants to erase from the history books.
A brief recap of the ugly:
- Tennessee needed overtime to squeak past Appalachian State, and played horrible offense while doing so
- LSU lost to Wisconsin, and Brandon Harris looked like old Brandon Harris
- Mississippi State lost to Sun Belt powerhouse South Alabama
- Arkansas beat Louisiana Tech by one point
- Texas A&M nearly blew a 15-point lead against UCLA
- South Carolina and Vandy played bad football
- Missouri’s offense is still an exercise in futility
- Kentucky lost to Southern Miss at home
- Florida only led UMass by 3 points for much of that game
- At time of writing, Clemson is on track to beat Auburn
Alabama steamrolled USC but that much was expected of the defending national champs.
This leaves Georgia, winner of a 33-24 clash with UNC, as the conference’s lone pleasant surprise of the week thus far. In fact, the Bulldogs looked much more the part of a quality team than both Tennessee and Florida, and the rest of the SEC East for that matter.
Sankey is probably writing them a nice, long thank-you letter.
At the top of the commissioner’s gratitude list has to be Nick Chubb. Taking his first handoffs in more than 300 days, the star tailback was exactly that for Georgia, pounding the Tar Heels for 222 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 32 carries. UNC’s run defense has been porous, sure, but to do that in your first game removed from a catastrophic knee injury is amazing regardless.
The excitement extended well-beyond Chubb, though.
Jacob Eason looked the part of future starter, showcasing his elite arm without making those typical freshman mistakes in a neat 8 for 12, 131-yard passing performance. He received a surprise contribution in the ground game from dynamic true freshman Brian Herrien, who tacked on 59 yards and a TD.
The offensive line, while shaky in pass protection, kept itself together. The defense looked like a strength and found its groove late, holding UNC to two punts, a safety and a turnover on downs in its final four drives.
Most impressively, the Bulldogs came storming back from a 10-point deficit and regained control of the game just as it appeared to be slipping away.
That’s right, Georgia fans: Kirby Smart has not lost control. Yet, anyways.
Very early though it may be, a look around the SEC East shows just how many flaws exist in the division. South Carolina, Missouri, Vandy and Kentucky are no bueno and likely comprise the conference’s basement quartet. Tennessee and Florida have offensive issues that need solving in the coming weeks.
Winning the division with a first-year head coach, a freshman quarterback (mostly) and a stout defense is what Florida did last year.
All this to say, why not Georgia?
So long as Chubb can continue carrying the Bulldogs, Saturday gave us a pretty good idea of where the red and black machine is headed this year.