An optimist might say the SEC won half its games on opening weekend, that Alabama, Georgia and Texas A&M all beat ranked teams. Silly optimist.
Is it really overreacting to focus on the fact that the league lost half its games on opening weekend, that Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas, Kentucky and Mississippi State struggled with or got upset by non-Power 5 opponents? That LSU, Ole Miss and Auburn blew opportunities to notch marquee wins against rival leagues?
(P.S. The only thing better than a good overreaction column after Week 1 is the rise of reacting-to-the-overreaction takes that are similarly sizzling.)
The good news — although not for you, the viewer — is the SEC has a slate full of get-well games in Week 2. The second installment of The Tuck Rules takes a look at how each team should feel about itself heading into this weekend. But first, a rundown of what you should being paying attention to Saturday.
The games worth watching, ranked:
1) Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway, not because we’re expecting great football — we are not after last week — but the spectacle of 160,000 fans watching football at a NASCAR track should be something to see.
2) Arkansas at TCU, because both teams have talent but nobody knows what to expect from either of them after the Razorbacks barely escaped Louisiana Tech and the Horned Frogs got into a 59-41 shootout with South Dakota State. Also: kudos to the Hogs for hitting the road.
3) Western Kentucky at Alabama, because sign us up for the Hilltoppers’ high-octane offense — QB Mike White led the nation last week with 517 passing yards — against the Crimson Tide’s heat-seeking defense. Probably another blowout, but it could be fun for a half.
4) Kentucky at Florida, because the Wildcats are now desperate after a stunning Week 1 letdown, and the Gators underwhelmed in their opener. One more win and it’ll be a nice, round, mind-boggling 30 in a row for Florida over UK.
The games not worth watching, not ranked, and with no explanation because you have eyeballs: Nicholls State at Georgia, Prairie View A&M at Texas A&M, Wofford at Ole Miss, Middle Tennessee at Vanderbilt, South Carolina at Mississippi State, Jacksonville State at LSU, Arkansas State at Auburn, Eastern Michigan at Missouri. Gross.
Now, about how your favorite team ought to feel about itself entering Week 2:
ALABAMA — Giddy. The Crimson Tide’s quarterback is a game manager no more. Freshman Jalen Hurts looks like a game breaker. And that defense? NSFW. Nasty, nasty stuff.
GEORGIA — Hopeful. Nick Chubb went full-on Adrian Peterson and just laid waste to North Carolina in his first game back from a major knee injury. Oh, and Jacob Eason is the real deal.
TEXAS A&M – Relieved. That the Aggies avoided an epic collapse against UCLA, and that they finally have a competent QB again in Trevor Knight. Also: soul crusher Myles Garrett.
OLE MISS — Ticked. Chad Kelly still is an elite quarterback, and the Rebels likely will win plenty of games in 2016, but boy did they let one get away with an all-time collapse against Florida State.
TENNESSEE — Humbled. All that hype and you can’t run the ball against Appalachian State? All that size and you can’t control the line of scrimmage? Some serious soul-searching is in order.
FLORIDA — Vulnerable. Ten points through three quarters against Massachusetts should not inspire confidence. There are quite a few SEC defenses capable of swallowing that O-line whole.
LSU — Exposed. Brandon Harris is ready to help Leonard Fournette? The Tigers are a bona fide title contender? Nope and no way. Wisconsin debunked both of those myths in a hurry.
ARKANSAS — Challenged. Bret Bielema’s teams punish opponents on the ground. After 106 yards (2.7 per carry) against Louisiana Tech, you can bet he’s hammering that point this week.
AUBURN — Confused. Wait, so now Gus Malzahn has himself a defense capable of holding No. 2 Clemson to 19 points but not enough offense to beat that? Strange days on the Plains.
SOUTH CAROLINA — (Very) cautiously optimistic. Vandy and Mississippi State are truly awful, meaning the schedule gods gave Will Muschamp’s also-bad team a great shot at starting 2-0.
KENTUCKY — Embarrassed. Mark Stoops had never apologized for a loss until UK blew a 25-point lead against Southern Miss. That might’ve dealt a death blow to his fan support.
MISSOURI — Dumbfounded. How do you run 100 offensive plays and have just three points until the final two minutes at West Virginia? New OC Josh Heupel has a special brand of magic.
VANDERBILT — Let down. Derek Mason failed his team by tinkering with a two-QB system when one was clearly working against South Carolina. He cost the Commodores a victory. Again.
MISSISSIPPI STATE — Hopeless. The South Alabama squad that just won in Starkville? Lost to last year’s Power 5 opponents, Nebraska and N.C. State, by a combined 111-22. Dak is missed.
* Follow Kyle on Twitter @KyleTucker_AJC. Reach him at Kyle.Tucker@ajc.com.