Several SEC coaches find themselves in hot water after a disastrous Week 1.
Nearly a dozen conference teams underachieved last weekend, as the conference went 4-8 against the spread. Many of these coaches have work to do to earn back cache with their fans in a boring second week of the season.
Here are the SEC coaches with the most to gain and lose in Week 2.
Gain: Mark Stoops, Kentucky
Kentucky at Florida – 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Gainesville, Fla. (CBS)
Kentucky is reeling after a bad loss to Southern Miss the first week of the season, but snapping the Gators’ 29-game win streak would shift the narrative quickly.
The Wildcats have not beaten the Gators since a 10-3 win in 1986. Since then, the Gators have won 29 straight, including three by 50 or more points. Kentucky has kept the game within a score the past two years, but must travel to Gainesville, Fla., for this matchup. Stoops can instantly buy himself job security with a win.
Lose: Butch Jones, Tennessee
No. 17 Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech – 8 p.m. Saturday in Bristol, Tenn. (ABC)
It’s only been a week and Jones’ seat is already warming. The Volunteers looked less than impressive against Appalachian State in the opener, and would have lost had Tennessee failed to recover a fumble in the end zone in overtime.
Now, Jones is playing against a middling Power 5 team in a game that will draw national attention. The Volunteers can’t just beat Virginia Tech – they have to slaughter the Hokies. Anything less and Jones’ seat will go from warm to scalding.
Gain: Will Muschamp, South Carolina
South Carolina at Mississippi State – 7 p.m. Saturday in Starkville, Miss. (ESPN2)
Few expected Muschamp to win his first game on the road against Vanderbilt, but the Gamecocks overcame a 10-point deficit to beat the Commodores in Nashville. South Carolina likely won’t be favored in any SEC game it plays this year, so conference victories are gravy.
This will be a perfect opportunity for the Gamecocks to strike. The talent on the roster is still minimal, but winning the opener will give the team confidence in week two. Mississippi State proved itself susceptible in its opening game against South Alabama.
Lose: Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Auburn vs. Arkansas State – 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Auburn, Ala. (SEC Network)
Staying close against No. 2 Clemson was an accomplishment, but the offense looks worse than ever. Scoring points is Malzahn’s specialty, but the quarterback play has been abhorrent the past two years.
Malzahn now has a tough battle against his former school – Arkansas State. The Red Wolves went 9-4 last season and won the Sun Belt. Even though they struggled in the opener against Toledo, Arkansas State can put up points.
Gain: Bret Bielema, Arkansas
Arkansas at No. 15 TCU – 7 p.m. Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas (ESPN)
Arkansas was less than impressive in a win over Louisiana Tech, but Bielema now has an opportunity against a nationally ranked opponent in Fort Worth.
The Razorbacks struggled to move the ball against the Bulldogs, but TCU’s defense is still in the throes of development. However, QB Kenny Hill was able to throw the ball easily in his first game. When offenses open up and shootouts occur, anything can happen.
Lose: Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt vs. Middle Tennessee – 4 p.m. Saturday in Nashville, Tenn. (SEC Network)
A bizarre coaching decision by Mason’s staff ended up costing Vanderbilt the opener against South Carolina. Mason pulled starting QB Kyle Shurmur – who was finding a rhythm – for reserve Wade Freebeck. Mason said he wanted to see Freebeck in live game action, but the move took Shurmur out of his flow.
The loss made Vanderbilt’s trip to a bowl game that much harder. Middle Tennessee is not an opponent to overlook in Week 2 of the season. The Blue Raiders stayed with four points last season. A loss to MTSU would be disastrous for Mason and could instantly land him on the hot seat.