Welcome to the first edition of Nooga.com's SEC roundup. We've had one week to establish a baseline for the 14 teams in the league, so starting with Week 2, we'll look back, look ahead and rank all the SEC teams each Thursday as they prepare for the upcoming week of SEC action.
1. Alabama (1-0)
The king reigns for another week in the SEC. Alabama wasn’t as crisp as the detail-obsessed Nick Saban would’ve liked to see in its opener in Atlanta against Virginia Tech, but three touchdowns – two of which came on returns – from receiver Christion Jones helped the Tide come away with a 35-10 win over the Hokies. They get a week off to prepare for their showdown with Texas A&M in Week 3 now. I’m sure the Aggies are thrilled about that.
Last week: Alabama 35, Virginia Tech 10
This week: BYE
2. Texas A&M (1-0)
The Aggies survived the one-half suspension of quarterback Johnny Manziel on their way to a comfortable 52-31 win over Rice in the opener last week. There are questions about their defense, but how do you bet against an offense with Manziel, receiver Mike Evans and tackle Jake Matthews? Add in strong performances by highly-touted freshman receiver Ricky Seals-Jones and running back Ben Malena and it looks like a team that might give up a lot of points this year, but also one that will score more than its opponent more times than not.
Last week: Texas A&M 52, Rice 31
This week: vs. Sam Houston State
3. LSU (1-0)
I’m still not totally sold on a squad that lost so much on defense from 2012, but the D responded in Week 1, holding No. 20 TCU to just 259 total yards in a 37-27 win. The offense looks to be much improved, though. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger is moving up the ranks of passers in the league and Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry are about as good of a 1-2 punch of receivers in the league right now. The Tigers will get even better whenever suspended running back Jeremy Hill returns to action.
Last week: LSU 37, TCU 27
This week: vs. UAB
4. South Carolina (1-0)
Heisman candidate Jadeveon Clowney looked gassed and out of shape in the opener against North Carolina. He claimed to have been battling a virus leading up to kickoff and South Carolina fans better hope that’s all it was. Other than that, the Gamecocks were impressive – showing off a revamped rushing attack despite the loss of Marcus Lattimore. Quarterback Connor Shaw continues to be one of the toughest and most underrated players in the league and he has some good options in the passing game this year. We’ll have a better idea how real this team is after it travels to Georgia this week.
Last week: South Carolina 27, North Carolina 10
This week: at Georgia
5. Georgia (0-1)
There’s not much shame in losing at Clemson, a team that could contend for a national title this year. Georgia came away with some concerns about its rebuilt defense and lost receiver Malcolm Mitchell (ACL) for the year, though. Mitchell sustained the injury will celebrating a Georgia touchdown. Still, this is a loaded offense led by quarterback Aaron Murray and running back Todd Gurley. Much of last week’s pain will be erased if the Bulldogs knock off South Carolina this week.
Last week: Clemson 38, Georgia 35
This week: @ South Carolina
6. Florida (1-0)
The Gators took care of business against a decent Toledo squad. Even without running back Matt Jones (viral infection), the Gators ran the ball well with backup Mack Brown leading the way. The defense is littered with NFL prospects and one of the best – cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy – didn’t even play due to a suspension last week. They travel to face a tougher task this week in an up-and-coming Miami team.
Last week: Florida 24, Toledo 6
This week: at Miami
7. Ole Miss (1-0)
The Rebels helped kick off the season last Thursday night and it was an instant classic against Vanderbilt. A 75-yard touchdown run by Jeff Scott with just over a minute left in the game saved Ole Miss from what looked like it would be a season-opening loss to the Commodores. Many of the recruits from coach Hugh Freeze’s highly-acclaimed 2013 signing class were on display such as defensive end Robert Nkemdiche and receiver Laquon Treadwell. They’re not quite in the upper echelon of the SEC West yet, but they could be soon.
Last week: Ole Miss 39, Vanderbilt 35
This week: vs. SE Missouri State
8. Vanderbilt (0-1)
“Same old Vandy” was the common response to the Commodores blowing a late lead against Ole Miss. This is far from the same old Vandy, though. The Commodores lost to a good Ole Miss squad, but they are going to be a tough out in the SEC this year. Wide receiver Jordan Matthews is as good and as tough of a player as there is in the conference. They’ll find the win column this week against Austin Peay and then prepare for a tough Week 3 matchup at South Carolina.
Last week: Ole Miss 39, Vanderbilt 35
This week: vs. Austin Peay
9. Mississippi State (0-1)
The Bulldogs looked bad against a very good Oklahoma State team last week, only mustering three points in the loss. Dating back to last year, MSU has now lost six of its last seven games. The Bulldogs can be decent in 2013, though. Quarterback Tyler Russell (concussion) is doubtful for this week, but if they can get him back healthy soon, they still have a solid backfield in Russell and running back LaDarius Perkins. Alcorn State shouldn’t be much of a challenge this week, but their game at Auburn in Week 3 will give a better idea of where they stand.
Last week: Oklahoma State 21, Mississippi State 3
This week: vs. Alcorn State
10. Missouri (1-0)
It was smooth sailing in Week 1 against an overmatched Murray State squad. The Tigers enjoyed having a healthy James Franklin at quarterback and the return of running back Henry Josey, who missed all of 2012 with a knee injury. The Tigers spread the ball around to 11 different receivers. Sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham (4 catches, 83 yards) led the way. The Tigers are coming up on an easy stretch of their schedule – Toledo, BYE, at Indiana and Arkansas State. They have a decent shot to start the year 4-0 before the SEC grind.
Last week: Missouri 58, Murray State 14
This week: vs. Toledo
11. Arkansas (1-0)
Bret Bielema’s debut was a success as the Razorbacks knocked off Louisiana-Lafayette. The running back duo of sophomore Jonathan Williams (151 yards) and freshman Alex Collins (131 yards) has a chance to be special in the near future. New quarterback Brandon Allen was efficient, completing 15-of-22 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns. The Razorbacks should also have a chance at some early success with games against Samford and Southern Mississippi coming up.
Last week: Arkansas 34, Louisiana-Lafayette 14
This week: vs. Samford
12. Tennessee (1-0)
Like Arkansas and Missouri, we really don’t know a ton about how good Tennessee will be this year. The difference is that the Vols will find out much quicker than the others. That’s because a talented Western Kentucky team is coming to Knoxville this week and then the Vols have a brutal two-week span with trips to Oregon and Florida. Coach Butch Jones can feel good about some of the things the Vols did in their 45-0 win over Austin Peay last week, but he knows the tests will get much tougher.
Last week: Tennessee 45, Austin Peay 0
This week: vs. Western Kentucky
13. Auburn (1-0)
It had to feel good for Auburn to get a win after a 3-9 campaign last year, even if came against Washington State, another team that was 3-9 last year. It was a great night for the running back duo of Tre Mason and Corey Grant. Those two combined for over 200 yards on the ground and Mason added a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Junior college transfer quarterback Nick Marshall was shaky, completing just 10-of-19 passes for 99 yards. His play, combined with the defense, are the two biggest concerns going forward as the schedule gets tougher going forward.
Last week: Auburn 31, Washington State 24
This week: vs. Arkansas State
14. Kentucky (0-1)
This list is very debatable, but it’s hard to argue against Kentucky being the worst team in the league. They were clearly outplayed by Western Kentucky in a 35-26 loss on a neutral field in Nashville. New coach Mark Stoops has brought some new energy and his recruiting should help, but that won’t do the Wildcats much good this season. If they don’t beat Miami (Ohio) this week, they might not win against until they play Alabama State on Nov. 2.
Last week: Western Kentucky 35, Kentucky 26
This week: vs. Miami (Ohio)
Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielNooga
Sign up for our email list to get your morning news delivered directly to your inbox. All we need is your email address.