It wasn’t a banner week for the SEC, but there are still positives to take away.
Although the conference went just 6-6 in non-conference play this weekend and 4-8 against the spread, several young pieces stepped into bigger roles. There was major attrition across the conference, but this week still proved stars abound throughout the SEC.
Here are a few of the top studs and duds from the first week of college football.
Stud: Everything Alabama
Alabama is unfair. USC is one of the few teams that can hang with the Crimson Tide’s talent, but Alabama eviscerated the Trojans and sacrificed them to the altar of Saban. The 52-6 win was one of the most dominant in college football and put the nation on notice.
The Crimson Tide held USC to just 194 yards of offense on 2.9 yards per play. Juju Smith-Schuster – perhaps the favorite the Biletnikoff Award, was held to just one catch for nine yards. Alabama threw up 465 yards on 7.4 yards per play. True freshman QB Jalen Hurts was the brightest spot. If the Crimson Tide have made a significant improvement at quarterback, the rest of college football is in huge trouble.
Dud: Kentucky, Ole Miss’ second half offense
Late in the first half, these two teams combined for a 63-16 lead against their respective opponents. However, both allowed a score with under a minute left before the half to let the other team back into the game.
Kentucky QB Drew Barker posted 287 yards in his first half as a full-time starter, but the offense collapsed from there. The Wildcats were held scoreless in the second half, as Barker threw for just 36 yards. Ole Miss wasn’t much better. After having a top five team on the ropes, the Rebels mustered just one score in the second half and allowed a 33-0 run by the Seminoles.
Stud: RB Nick Chubb
Welcome back, Mr. Chubb. After he went out with a knee injury early last season, many forgot just how electric Chubb is for Georgia. While all eyes were on Leonard Fournette, Chubb rushed for 222 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his first live action since October 2015.
Although the coaching staff has faith in his backups, Chubb is the kind of talent that can lead to division and conference championships.
Dud: QB Brandon Harris
This was meant to be the year that Harris put his struggles behind him and balanced the LSU offense. But after an embarrassing loss to Wisconsin, it seems LSU has the same old issues under center.
Harris threw for 131 yards and two interceptions against Wisconsin, including a late pick to seal a loss for LSU. He looked discombobulated all day and consistently missed receivers, no matter the distance. The rest of his offense – especially star receivers Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural – are simply too talented for such mediocrity at quarterback.
Stud: Will Muschamp
It wasn’t pretty, but Muschamp eked out an impressive win on the road at Vanderbilt in his first game as the Gamecocks’ head coach.
Muschamp managed to not overthink his coaching decisions, letting starting quarterback Perry Orth manage the game throughout and not getting too risky, even when down 10-0 to a good defense. Talent will come to bite the Gamecocks against better teams, but for one glorious week, Muschamp is on top of the SEC.
Dud: Quarterback play
Poor play under center is the biggest reason why the SEC was just 7-7 in non-conference play this weekend. Ten teams were starting someone different than Week 1 last season, and it showed in losses to Clemson, South Alabama and Southern Miss down the stretch.
But while new faces struggled to lead their team to victory, old faces didn’t look convincing either. The aforementioned Harris lost the game for LSU against Wisconsin. Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs also nearly choked away the game against App State with a fumble in the end zone. If the quarterback play continues to be this poor, the SEC is in trouble.