With half the league in the loss column after Week 1, plenty of folks in SEC country are ready to turn the page.
With that in mind, here are the biggest storylines for each school heading into Week 2:
What to do for an encore? After routing Southern Cal in the opener, the Crimson Tide have the luxury of fine-tuning things instead of overhauling them.
The quarterback battle will continue into the Western Kentucky game. If Jalen Hurts keeps playing well, it will be tough to keep the freshman out of the lineup.
Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough will continue to share time at running back. Nick Saban said he prefers a timeshare at the position.
Was Week 1 the exception or the rule? While the Razorbacks avoided the upset bug in their 21-20 victory against Louisiana Tech, there were some worrying signs.
The offensive line allowed 4 sacks and produced 2.7 yards per carry. Austin Allen had 2 interceptions that led to touchdowns, keeping the game closer than it should have been.
Were the Week 1 struggles because of first-game jitters or are they more systemic? We’ll find out when Arkansas visits TCU in Week 2.
Where will the quarterback carousel stop? Gus Malzahn’s game of musical quarterbacks bothered everyone except Clemson in a loss that spoiled a top-notch effort from his defense.
It looks like he’s taking a simpler tack for this week’s game against Arkansas State, starting Sean White. That said, it won’t surprise anyone if White, John Franklin III and Jeremy Johnson all see time at the position again.
If the offensive line doesn’t start making more holes, the guy taking the snaps won’t really matter in the long run.
What gear was that? Coach Jim McElwain wasn’t thrilled with his team’s performance in a 24-7 win against UMass in the opener. Even though it appeared Florida was coasting at times, most would say a win is a win.
With Kentucky coming to town for an SEC East clash, reeling from a woeful defensive night against Southern Miss, Florida fans will hope to see much more from the Gators on offense.
The Wildcats looked vulnerable against the run, so perhaps Jordan Scarlett and the rest of the running backs can improve on their modest totals.
Are the Bulldogs the new favorites in the East? With Tennessee and Florida sputtering (but winning), a few pundits are revising their preseason predictions after Georgia’s win against North Carolina.
Greyson Lambert and Jacob Eason were efficient at quarterback. Running back Nick Chubb looked every bit like the Heisman Trophy candidate he was before his knee injury last season.
It’s unlikely we’ll learn anything new from Georgia’s game against Nicholls State, but it’s a chance to get Eason more game reps. With any luck, we’ll see injured running back Sony Michel this week, too.
What happened and can it be fixed? It was all going to plan. Drew Barker was carving up Southern Miss through the air, the running game was rolling and Kentucky had a 35-10 lead with a minute left in the first half.
Two hours and 34 points later, the Wildcats were on the wrong end of a 44-35 loss.
A trip to Gainesville, Fla., is hardly the ideal spot to tinker with a team, but Mark Stoops will need to get some things straightened out in a hurry to avoid an 0-2 start. Stopping a running play every now and then while avoiding turnovers would be a good place to start.
Here we go again — Good defense, good running game and bad quarterback play were hallmarks of the 2015 LSU team. The 2016 version had the same sort of day in a 16-14 loss to Wisconsin.
Every preseason goal Les Miles had — SEC West title, conference title, playoff berth — is still in play, but the wiggle room is gone. Can the Tigers shake up things on offense enough to cash in on Leonard Fournette’s brilliance?
That’s the $6.4 million question — the amount it would take to buy out Miles’ contract if the school decides to go in a different direction. A big win against Jacksonville State, one in which quarterback Brandon Harris looks good, would be a welcome sight for all parties.
It’s not that bad, is it? Most preseason polls had Mississippi State at the bottom of the SEC West this season, but folks weren’t lining up to predict a season-opening loss in Starkville to South Alabama.
The first half was fine, as the Bulldogs built a 17-0 lead. The second half saw the defense allow 3 scores, while the offense couldn’t generate anything.
So, is Dan Mullen’s team that bad? Or, as 2 missed field goals might suggest, were the Bulldogs unlucky? South Carolina’s visit to Davis Wade Stadium this weekend could provide the answer.
Half-full or half-empty? Coming into the season, the burning question for Missouri was the offense. Or, more bluntly, can a team dramatically improve one of the nation’s worst units in a single offseason?
The loss at West Virginia gives fans a choice on how to view the 2016 Tigers. One could look at the 11 points scored and remember that the offense averaged less than 2 touchdowns per game last season.
Or, one could look at the 462 total yards and realize that total is better than any posted last season. Perhaps a home game against Eastern Michigan will see the Tigers produce points and yards.
How good are the Rebels? Before they started giving away the football, the Rebels were up 22 points on the Seminoles in Week 1. Of course, the 4 turnovers played a key role in Florida State’s rally.
There’s no shame in losing a game in Florida against FSU. But Ole Miss made it easy for the Seminoles to come back, and that has to be a little disappointing.
The defense allowed almost 600 yards of total offense, but that’s because it was on the field for almost 43 minutes. The Wofford game won’t really be an indicator, but somewhere down the line, we’ll see how good Ole Miss really is.
Room for growth — The margins are thin in college football. Westin Graves missed a game-winning field goal for Mississippi State last week. Elliott Fry made his for the Gamecocks against Vanderbilt.
After that win, South Carolina has a chance to open the season 2-0 with a pair of SEC road wins. Of course, Mississippi State won’t make that easy.
The Gamecocks will need fewer drops from their receivers and better ball control (2 lost fumbles) to keep the pressure off their young defense. It’s only Week 2, but this is a massive game for both schools.
Picking up the pieces — The Volunteers needed overtime to defeat Appalachian State on Thursday. Were it not for a weekend full of upsets around the country, their struggles would get much more attention.
There is plenty of room for growth, but it starts with Joshua Dobbs. Tennessee needs the bowl-game version of its dual-threat quarterback, not the tentative one who showed up for the opener.
When a team is as hyped as Tennessee was during the summer, it gets every team’s best shot. It survived Appalachian State’s. This week against Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway, the Vols will need to do it again.
Riding the wave — Texas A&M controlled most of its game against UCLA but let the Bruins back in it late before winning in overtime.
Coach Kevin Sumlin is saying all the right things in advance of his team’s game against Prairie View A&M — preaching a need to get better and finish games. This is a good opponent for that sort of thing.
Greater challenges, like the visit to Auburn in Week 3, lie ahead. But after a stormy offseason, the sun is shining in College Station.
Bouncing back — Derek Mason wrote a letter in advance of the season opener, pleading for fan support. He talked openly about reaching a bowl game and sparred with USA Today about his team’s ranking this summer.
Then, the Commodores lost at home to South Carolina, the team most pundits picked last in the SEC East.
Mason’s challenge this week is internal as Vanderbilt prepares for Middle Tennessee State. He has to get his team back up after the disappointment last week. If he doesn’t, all the letters in the world won’t endear him to his fan base.