Two weeks of the 2012 college football season, or 16.6% of the regular season, are now in the books. So far, the Bulldogs have had the start they have been craving for a while. The win over Auburn gave Dan Mullen his first victory over Auburn, and it gave Mississippi State its first SEC opening win since before the Y2K scare.
The Good: Sadly, this is not always a challenge to pick after a Mississippi State game, but Saturday featured outstanding performances from many Bulldogs. Johnthan Banks picked up two more interceptions to run his career total to 14. Tyler Russell had one of the best performances by a Mississippi State quarterback in ages. Matt Wells made himself known again.
In the end, I only think this can go to an individual player each week, so while that means many other players will not get recognized here this week. With all due apologies to Banks, Wells, the defensive line, and others, this award has to go to Tyler Russell. Mississippi State quarterbacks just don't put up 20/29, 222 yards and 3 TDs in the stat line very often.
That is very good. Credit also has to be given to his supporting cast, especially Marcus Green with two touchdown receptions and Bumphis with his second touchdown catch of the year.
Honorable Mention: Dan Mullen laying one on his wife. He got all of that one.
The Bad: The Mississippi State kicking game has got to improve. The struggles should not come into play the next two games, although, you never want to leave anything to chance on the road, but Devon Bell needs to get some confidence before SEC play resumes.
His point-afters are a thing of beauty. He just needs a few field goals to look the same, and he will be in good shape. Kicking is such a mental game, and that means this needs to happen sooner than later.
The Ugly: The ESPN announcers walk away with this one. Yes, Jenn Brown is good looking, Brian Greise did ok, but Dave Pasch sounded horrid. Who knew that LaDarius Phillips had replaced LaDarius Perkins? Dave Pasch did. He also had the gall to call out people for messing up Tyler Russell's name.
Here's hoping this was Dave's last trip to a Mississippi State game this year, or ever.
Make sure to vote and read the SEC round up and awards follow the bump!
#9 South Carolina 48, East Carolina 10: Dylan Thompson filled the void left by Connor Shaw's injury by racking up 330 yards in the air and throwing for 3 touchdowns in an easy victory for South Carolina.
#24 Florida 20, Texas A&M 17: The Cadets almost saw the Aggies pick up a win in their first SEC game, but in a repeat of last year, Texas A&M could not protect a fourth quarter lead.
The Aggies jumped out to a 17-10 lead at the half, but never scored again (perhaps fitting for a school with all male cheerleaders).
#1 Alabama 35, Western Kentucky 0: A. J. McCarron tossed four touchdown passes to help the Tide squeak by the Hilltoppers. This was the typical Nick Saban blowout. The score looks respectable, but on the field, it felt about five times worse.
#23 Tennessee 51, Georgia State 13: It may be safe to say that Justin Hunter has recovered from his ACL injury as he hauled in three touchdowns and 146 yards on eight receptions in the Volunteers blowout victory.
Tyler Bray tossed for 310 yards and 4 touchdowns, three of which went to Hunter, in the win.
LA-Monroe 34, #8 Arkansas 31: In an upset of the week candidate, the Warhawks overcame a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime against the Hogs. Kolton Browning went 42 for 67 for 412 yards and three touchdowns, but it was his touchdown run on the final play that gave LA-Monroe the victory.
Tyler Wilson, who was hit early and often, left the game and did not return for the second half.
#3 LSU 41, Washington 3: Last year, the Tigers knocked off Oregon from the PAC-12; this year, they handled the Huskies.
Zach Mettenberger tossed for 195 yards and a touchdown, and Alfred Blue ran for 101 yards and a score. The Huskies only managed 12 first downs and 26 yards on 24 carries against the LSU defense.
Mississippi 28, UTEP 10: The Hugh Freeze era (error?) got off to a 2-0 start with av victory over the Miners. Bo "the second coming of Eli" Wallace tossed for 174 yards and three touchdowns.
Of course, many Rebel fans then believed that GameDay would be in Oxford next week. It won't.
Kentucky 47, Kent State 14: In a game we all lost for watching, the Wildcats thumped their MAC challengers. Max Smith tossed for four touchdowns in the win, and Raymond Sanders ran for 115 yards and a touchdown to help Kentucky enjoy a week without basketball a little bit more.
#7 OldManFootball 41, Missouri 20: The Bulldogs scored 24 unanswered points to pull away from Missouri to spoil the Tigers first ever SEC contest.
Northwestern 23, Vandy 13: The Commodores' dream season took a step closer to becoming a nightmare (crazy that Vandy actually has gotten good enough to have expectations..) as they dropped a decision at Ryan Field in Evanston.
Vandy held a seven-point lead at the half, and led by four in the fourth quarter before falling behind. Carey Spear tied the game at 13-13 with a little over five minutes to play, but Northwestern scored the final ten points for the win.
Jordan Matthews finished 217 yards and a score in the air.
SEC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: As nice as it would be to be a homer and give this to Tyler Russell, the award is going to Justin Hunter of Tennessee. The receiver had 146 yards on eight catches (an 18.25 average), and three touchdowns in the win over Georgia Southern.
Tyler Russell gets the honorable mention because his performance came against an SEC foe. Aaron Murray received consideration as well.
SEC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Johnthan Banks almost got this award this week, but while he and Jarvis Jones both accounted for two turnovers, Georgia took advantage of the plays better than Mississippi State, giving the award to Jones.
Jones returned an interception to the one-yard line to set Georgia up for a 10-point lead, and he retuned a fumble to the five that set up another Bulldog fourth quarter score.
SEC Standings: Mississippi State sits atop the SEC West
SEC WEST: 1. Mississippi State (2-0, 1-0), T2. Alabama (2-0, 0-0), T2. LSU (2-0, 0-0), T2. Mississippi (2-0, 0-0), T2. Arkansas (1-1, 0-0), T6. Texas A&M (0-1, 0-1), T6. Auburn (0-2, 0-1)
SEC EAST: T1. South Carolina (2-0, 1-0) T1. Georgia (2-0, 1-0), T1. Florida (2-0, 1-0), T4. Tennessee (2-0, 0-0), T4. Kentucky (1-1, 0-0), T6. Missouri (1-1, 0-1), T6. Vanderbilt (0-2, 0-1)
SEC POWER RANKINGS:
4. South Carolina
5. Mississippi State
10. Texas A & M
13. Ole Miss
I felt that more order started to come to the top six teams, but it felt like 7-9 and 10-14 still could not be sorted well.
Your Turn: What did you like, or not like? What else do you want to see in the post? Starting next week, Poll Justice, comes to the Monday Morning Quarterback.