South Carolina 17, North Carolina 13
Arguably the most boring game of the week, this one was just flat out dumb. South Carolina's main struggle last year was the defense, and they hoped to improve it with new defensive coordinator Jon Hoke. Well, that wasn't the case Thursday. The Gamecocks gave up 440 yards, but found themselves taking advantage of multiple North Carolina mistakes. The Tar Heels threw three interceptions, all of which in the red zone, which was the difference in this game. The Gamecocks offense was stagnant, producing 394 total yards, 254 of which on the ground. This was a game that South Carolina really should have lost, but they lucked out with North Carolina's mistakes.
Western Kentucky 14, Vanderbilt 12
Goodness, Vanderbilt. You've lost two straight Thursday night home openers to Temple and now Western Kentucky. In the beginning of this ballgame, Vanderbilt's defense was the storyline. Derek Mason's defense absolutely annihilated the Hilltoppers, not giving up a score until a minute left in the 3rd quarter. The Commodores gave up just 246 total yards. Now, you're probably wondering, "how did they lose this game?"
BECAUSE THEY'RE VANDERBILT, THAT'S WHY.
The Commodores threw two interceptions, the first on the Western Kentucky nine yard line and the other on the Hilltopper one (that's right, the one) yard line. They didn't get in the end zone until the last possession of the game, when they missed a two point conversion that would have sent the game into overtime. As they say in Nashville, Anchor Down. The anchor is certainly down, and they're stuck, not going anywhere.
Ole Miss 76, UT Martin 3
As you would probably expect, Ole Miss came out firing in this one. The Rebels had a 28-0 lead after the 1st quarter, added 14 more in the 2nd, 14 in the 3rd, and wrapped it up with 21 in this 4th. This game got so out of hand that they let Robert Nkemdiche get a pass, and he took it to the house for a 31 yard touchdown. Chad Kelly got the start for the Rebels and had a very solid performance, going 9 of 15 for 211 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. It was absolute dominance for the Rebels, scoring the most points in a game since 1935.
Georgia 51, UL Monroe 14
The Bulldogs didn't have much of a challenge to open their 2015 campaign. Georgia produced 435 yards of total offense in this one, 243 of which coming on the ground. Nick Chubb got 120 of those yards from 16 carries, notching two touchdowns. In a quarterback battle all offseason, the Bulldogs started Virginia transfer Greyson Lambert, who had a solid outing. He went 8 of 12 for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
Arkansas 48, UTEP 13
Entering the 2015 season gathering a great deal of hype, Arkansas needed a good showing against UTEP and they did just that. The Razorbacks were led by a superb performance from Brandon Allen, throwing for 308 yards and four touchdowns while completing 14 of 18 passes. Marred by the loss of running back Jonathan Williams to injury, Arkansas needed their other explosive ground weapons to step up to the challenge. They did in a big way. Alex Collins had a terrific showing, rushing for 127 yards from 12 carries with a touchdown.
Auburn 31, Louisville 24
First thing's first, Auburn's defense is dramatically improved. With Auburn's offense struggling, they stepped up and saved the day. They forced two turnovers, including a scoop and score. On the contrary, their offense did not look too impressive. Jeremy Johnson threw for only 121 yards and was picked off three times. I don't know if it was first game jitters, but he needs to figure things out immediately.
Tennessee 59, Bowling Green 30
In the beginning of this matchup, Bowling Green held on with Tennessee, trailing 21-20 at one point. Luckily for the Vols, Tennessee got things going. The Volunteer offense looked fabulous, totaling 604 total yards. Josh Dobbs had a great outing, throwing for 205 yards and two touchdowns from 15 of 22 passes. Jalen Hurd also looked terrific, totaling 123 yards from 23 carries and three touchdowns. They need to work on the defense, though. They gave up 557 yards, 399 of which on the ground. They need to get things figured out before Saturday, when they face Oklahoma.
Missouri 34, Southeast Missouri State 3
The one takeaway I have from this is that Missouri's defense is still unstoppable. They took Dave Steckel's leaving right in stride and held SEMO to just 191 total yards. With that being said, their offense was average. Maty Mauk threw for 181 yards from 12 of 22 passes with two touchdowns and an interception. Their running game was nonexistent, totaling 88 yards from 33 carries. It could be another year like last year for Missouri, where the defense wins them games.
Kentucky 40, UL Lafayette 33
Mark Hudspeth and the Ragin' Cajuns have always wanted to beat an SEC team. They never have gotten closer than they got Saturday. Kentucky jumped out to a 33-10 lead before ULL mounted an incredible comeback. They Cajuns roared back to tie the game up at 33 with seven minutes left in the game. Kentucky was able to finish the job, getting in the end zone with 57 seconds left in the ballgame. Patrick Towles had a solid performance for Kentucky, totaling 257 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception from 16 of 34 passes. Running back Boom Williams also had a great showing, rushing for 135 yards and a touchdown from ten carries.
Texas A&M 38, Arizona State 17
Without a doubt, this was the most impressive showing of the week. The effects of John Chavis' defense are blatant, as the Aggies held Arizona State to just 301 yards of total offense. The Aggie defense saved A&M when they turned the ball over three times. Kyle Allen had a nice showing for A&M, going 15 of 26 for 198 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. The Aggies showed out today, and they look like they could be a force to be reckoned with in the SEC West.
Florida 61, New Mexico State 13
Well, Florida had a day! The Gators found both Will Grier and Treon Harris playing well, Harris throwing for two touchdowns and 215 yards from 14 completions and Grier throwing for two touchdowns and 164 yards from 15 completions. With that being said, it looks like Jim McElwain hasn't put all his faith in one quarterback. This battle could continue throughout the year.
Alabama 35, Wisconsin 17
Alabama was just doing Alabama things. Jake Coker got the start for the Tide, going 15 of 21 for 213 yards and a touchdown. It was an overall solid day for Coker. But, Derrick Henry stole the show. Henry rushed for 147 yards and three touchdowns from 13 carries. He truly is rivaling Leonard Fournette and Nick Chubb for the best running back in the conference. Defensively, Alabama needed to stop the run. Wisconsin has always had a big time rushing attack, and Alabama absolutely obliterated it Saturday. The Badgers totaled a staggering 40 yards from 21 carries. Not too shabby, Alabama. Not too shabby.
Mississippi State 34, Southern Miss 16
I truly can't comprehend what happened in this game. This was a game of dumb football. A whole lot of dumb football. Statistically, Dak Prescott had a good showing, completing 22 of his 38 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 72 yards and a touchdown from eight carries. But, he was shaky. He was overthrowing receivers. He really didn't look sharp. Also, it looks like we State fans are going to have to deal with another atrocious secondary yet again. The Bulldogs gave up 311 yards through the air, which was the significant majority of the Golden Eagles' 413 total yards. Luckily, the Bulldog front seven is still dominant, giving up 102 yards on the ground from 36 carries, an average of just 2.8 yards per rush. It was ugly, but we got the win. With that being said, we have some work to do before Saturday's showdown with LSU.