There have been higher days for the SEC.
The nation’s strongest convention — uh, we predict — had a reasonably depressing Saturday, beginning with No.1 Alabama’s sweat-inducing close shave as a huge favorite in opposition to No. 22 Texas.
Whereas the Crimson Tide survived, 20-19, the slender win raises some questions in regards to the workforce’s place atop the USA TODAY Sports activities AFCA Coaches Ballot.
At the very least Alabama escaped what would’ve been a dreadful loss.
No. 6 Texas A&M misplaced 17-14 to Appalachian State, sending the Aggies tumbling within the early Bowl Subdivision pecking order and reinforcing one thing each Energy 5 program ought to tattoo on their brow: Do not schedule the Mountaineers — not at residence, not away, not ever.
Missouri was blitzed by former border-state rival Kansas State in a 40-12 loss. The Tigers have been pushed round by the Wildcats’ terrific operating recreation, paced once more by star operating again Deuce Vaughn, and have been finally doomed by a run of 4 interceptions in as many drives within the second half.
In one other Energy 5 crossover matchup, Vanderbilt misplaced 45-25 to No. 21 Wake Forest and quarterback Sam Hartman, who threw for 300 yards and 4 touchdowns after lacking the season opener.
It is not all dangerous, nevertheless. It speaks to the SEC’s depth that one other member, No. 2 Georgia, might supplant the Tide atop this week’s High 25 after a simple win in opposition to Samford. Tennessee is destined for a nationwide rating after beating No. 14 Pittsburgh 34-27 in time beyond regulation, albeit with the Panthers having beginning quarterback Kedon Slovis sidelined for the second half.
This weekend’s record of winners and losers consists of groups from the SEC, Huge 12 and extra:
Generally a loss is not only a loss, even when the Longhorns had a number of alternatives within the second half to place Alabama away and safe a tenure-making victory for second-year coach Steve Sarkisian. Whereas Texas got here up simply quick, the efficiency bodes properly for the workforce’s probabilities in an unpredictable Huge 12 and may put wind in this system’s sails after a dreadful 2021 season. One factor the Longhorns want is a wholesome quarterback after dropping starter Quinn Ewers early and watching backup Hudson Card limp his means by means of a gutty efficiency.
SHOWING FIGHT:Texas tells Alabama, rest of SEC it is ready for new league
After narrowly dropping to North Carolina amid an epic fourth-quarter barrage of factors, Appalachian State deserves to be picked as the favourite within the Solar Belt and one of many prime groups within the Group of 5 after successful at A&M. Down the highway, there’s an opportunity this workforce appears to be like again on the UNC loss and wonders what might’ve been; as confirmed final yr, an unbeaten Group of 5 workforce with strong non-conference wins in opposition to the Energy 5 might make an argument for the Faculty Soccer Playoff.
Historical past tells us Alabama will bounce again and stay one of many groups to beat within the race for the nationwide championship. Within the quick aftermath, nevertheless, search for a number of groups on this yr’s schedule to share this uncommon thought: Alabama appears to be like beatable. One future opponent who could also be dreaming of an SEC West crown is No. 17 Arkansas, which moved to 2-0 with a 44-30 win in opposition to South Carolina. Quarterback KJ Jefferson had 229 yards of complete offense and two touchdowns whereas the protection gave up simply 44 yards on the bottom, the fewest allowed by the Razorbacks in 4 years. This efficiency comes after a win within the season opener in opposition to Cincinnati, one of many prime applications within the Group of 5. By two weeks, Arkansas might have the very best resume of any workforce within the Bowl Subdivision.
The Wildcats bought little or no by means of the air from switch quarterback Adrian Martinez, who threw for less than 101 yards, however bullied Missouri on protection and with a bodily operating recreation that went for 235 yards and 4 scores. Going for 145 yards and two touchdowns will give Vaughn’s ignored Heisman marketing campaign some juice with an enormous matchup with No. 7 Oklahoma approaching Sept. 24. It is clear that Kansas State is a respectable menace to win the Huge 12 and attain a significant bowl.
The Solar Belt
It was an excellent Saturday for a wildly underrated convention — although the Solar Belt’s secret could also be getting out. Along with Appalachian State’s win at A&M, Marshall shocked No. 9 Notre Dame, FBS neophyte James Madison remained unbeaten, South Alabama beat MAC frontrunner Central Michigan 38-24 and Georgia State pushed UNC to the sting with an 18-point third quarter earlier than dropping 35-28. With the American set to lose three key members to the Huge 12, the Solar Belt stands poised to take over as the highest convention within the Group of 5.
The warmth is on first-year coach Marcus Freeman, who’s the primary coach in program historical past to lose his first three video games. Final week’s 21-10 setback to Ohio State is one factor; falling 26-21 to Marshall is one other. What’s ailing the Combating Irish? Most of all, this offense shall be scrambling for solutions after one other subpar exhibiting. Notre Dame averaged 3.5 yards per carry and completed with simply 351 complete yards, with quarterback Tyler Buchner and Drew Pyne combining for five.8 yards per try and three interceptions. We could also be taking a look at an extended season for the Irish.
Any rating of the worst losses in program historical past has a brand new entry. The Aggies have been outgained by 128 yards and managed simply eight first downs to the Mountaineers’ 22. It is not that Appalachian State is a pushover, since we all know the Mountaineers are among the many prime groups within the Group of 5. However this yr was imagined to be completely different: A&M was picked as a near-lock for the New Yr’s Six and whilst the highest workforce within the SEC West. As an alternative, coach Jimbo Fisher’s workforce has hit all-time low heading right into a brutal run of video games: No. 16 Miami (Fla.), Arkansas, Mississippi State, Alabama, South Carolina and No. 23 Mississippi.
There are a number of query marks popping out of the shut win, none greater than the state of an offensive line that was projected to enhance after a down 2021 season however was principally unimpressive in opposition to Texas. Is that this offensive entrance able to successful alongside the road of scrimmage in opposition to Arkansas, Georgia and the very best the SEC has to supply? One factor we all know: Bryce Younger is an unimaginable expertise with a aptitude for the dramatic. He took a step towards recapturing the Heisman Trophy along with his fantastic fourth quarter.
Any thought that No. 18 Wisconsin might rise out of the Huge Ten West and make a run on the convention championship and a playoff berth evaporated utterly with a 17-14 loss to Washington State. That is turning into such a predictable a part of the Badgers’ existence that it begs the query of why they’re persistently ranked so excessive within the preseason. Will this system break by means of beneath Paul Chryst?
At the very least the Hawkeyes scored seven factors the simple means: with a landing. Sadly, after scoring seven with a discipline aim and two safeties final week, the landing was all Iowa would muster in a 10-7 loss to rival Iowa State. The place does this depart the Huge Ten West? Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Purdue, Northwestern and Illinois have already suffered a loss. The one workforce standing unbeaten is Minnesota.