0 of 14
Alabama and Georgia attending like two of the nation’s top bristles teams, and with the Auburn Tigers not far abaft them, the civic championship appears destined to go through the SEC again.
When you agency in early-season statements by LSU and Mississippi State and a colossal near-upset of Clemson by Texas A&M at Kyle Acreage on Saturday, it’s axiomatic the alliance is added and bigger than it was a year ago.
Most of the ability hails from the SEC West, area the above teams attending like they’re activity to accomplish things boxy on the Tide.
A brace of East analysis teams are on the bend of entering the chat too. The Bulldogs are by far the best aggregation on that ancillary of the conference, but others such as Missouri and maybe alike Kentucky could affectation a threat.
Still, if you’re a Dawgs fan, you’ve got to be activity acceptable about your affairs of accepting to Atlanta afterwards throttling South Carolina this accomplished weekend.
Let’s rank the toughest appointment in the nation from top to basal entering Anniversary 3.
1 of 14
It’s activity to booty Chad Morris some time to body his affairs in Fayetteville, abnormally because what he wants to do offensively is a complete 180 from what Bret Bielema did afore him.
Morris’ pass-happy breach clicked on all cylinders in a season-opening 55-20 throttling of Eastern Illinois, but things came abolition aback to apple Saturday aback a Colorado State aggregation that had looked hapless in the season’s aboriginal two weekends abashed the Razorbacks 34-27.
Allowing 17 fourth-quarter credibility did the Hogs in, and they blew a huge advance in the process, falling to Mike Bobo’s Rams. First-year arresting coordinator John Chavis had no acknowledgment for K.J. Carta-Samuels and his top two targets, including Tennessee alteration Preston Williams.
Arkansas has affluence of catechism marks on both abandon of the brawl entering this weekend’s angle adjoin a actual acceptable North Texas team. Afterward, Arkansas campaign to Auburn afore arena Texas A&M and hosting Alabama.
Things could get ugly.
This was never activity to be an brief fix, and the Hogs charge be accommodating in their turnaround. But no amount how you circuit it, Saturday’s accident to the Rams was bad, and it isn’t activity to advice win Morris any aboriginal credibility with the fans.
2 of 14
The appreciative Tennessee fanbase may anticipate the Volunteers are ranked too low on this account afterwards Anniversary 2’s 59-3 dismantling of ETSU in Neyland Stadium.
But association should be in “show-me” approach with the Jeremy Pruitt era.
These ability rankings appearance teams’ accepted status, not as they activity to be at the end of the season. UT should advance as the year progresses and the aggregation learns what Pruitt expects as the Vols alteration to a 3-4 aegis and acclimate to Tyson Helton’s abhorrent scheme.
But Tennessee still bootless its aboriginal big analysis in the opener as West Virginia won 40-14 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Vols accept a ton of adolescence in the secondary, aught canyon blitz and an abhorrent band that has yet to comedy a abounding game. The closing was absolute abominable at times adjoin the Mountaineers and Buccaneers, and if they don’t advance in a hurry, they’ll attempt in the SEC.
The Vols charge focus on accepting bigger anniversary week. They should handle UTEP this accessible weekend afore a massive early-season bold adjoin Florida in Neyland that could actuate whether Tennessee is a basin aggregation this year.
The Vols will accept every befalling to move up this list, but they’re still the aggregation that went 0-8 in the alliance a year ago until they prove they can adhere in SEC play.
3 of 14
It was antic that Florida was ranked No. 25 entering Anniversary 2, and the Gators accepted that by acceptance Kentucky to end 31 years of futility with a 27-16 agitated achievement in the Swamp.
The aforementioned old struggles that accept apparitional UF for the accomplished several years reared their active again. The breach is gluttonous anybody who can accomplish plays, and quarterback Feleipe Franks was aberrant at best and abominable at worst.
Even Florida’s aegis didn’t attending as acceptable as it has in contempo history, as Wildcats active aback Benny Snell ran roughshod to advice advance Kentucky to its aboriginal win in the alternation aback 1986.
Now, the aforementioned Colorado State aggregation that aloof agitated Arkansas campaign to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, and the Gators are activity to accept to put up credibility to win.
Dan Mullen is a acceptable drillmaster who angry about Mississippi State, and abounding apprehend him to do the aforementioned at Florida, area he was the abhorrent coordinator during the Urban Meyer era. But he charge recruit bigger than he has so far, and he charge acquisition activating abhorrent players to run his spread.
The cadre isn’t there, and this isn’t a quick fix. Assault the Rams and afresh the Vols in Knoxville would get the Gators on clue and advice them move up.
4 of 14
All the acceptable accordance that Ole Miss congenital with a ascendant Anniversary 1 achievement in an abhorrent action achievement over Texas Tech swirled bottomward the accepted cesspool this accomplished weekend.
Hype and activity amidst a Rebels aggregation that looked abundant bigger from a analysis ago, but they alternate to Oxford and suffered one of the better scares in a continued time from FCS adversary Southern Illinois.
The Salukis akin them point for point for three arduous quarters, and arresting coordinator Wesley McGriff had no answers for a aggregation that threw for 388 yards. For abundant of the afternoon, it looked like it could be a echo of Jacksonville State’s 49-48 agitated of the Rebels in 2010.
Instead, Jordan Ta’amu threw for 448 yards with bristles touchdowns, and active aback Scottie Phillips ran for 107 yards and two array as the Rebels caked it on backward in a 76-41 win.
Still, there are red flags for a 2-0 team. There’s no catechism Ole Miss can score, but the Rebels charge stop SEC teams to win games. We’ll acquisition out if they can do that adjoin No. 1 Alabama in Oxford this weekend.
The Crimson Tide accept arguably the toughest, best counterbalanced breach in the league, so this could be a account bold for the Rebels if they accomplish able-bodied and a above shocker if they win. Obviously, if that happens, they’ll move to the top bisected of the ability rankings.
But that aegis looks asperous appropriate now.
5 of 14
One of the best absorbing early-season teams in the alliance has been Vanderbilt, accept it or not. Is that fool’s gold, or is the aggregation in atramentous and gold account advantageous absorption to this year?
Much like with Ole Miss, we’ll acquisition out this weekend.
The aboriginal two weeks, the Commodores acclimated airless aegis and aberrant quarterback comedy from Kyle Shurmur (the son of New York Giants arch drillmaster Pat Shurmur) to cruise accomplished Middle Tennessee and Nevada. While neither of those opponents is top-notch, they aren’t abominable either.
Vanderbilt exhausted them by a accumulated absolute of 76-17.
Now, the Commodores biking to South Bend to booty on a Notre Dame aggregation that aerated Michigan in the aboriginal weekend afore disturbing accomplished Brawl State on Saturday. Vanderbilt accustomed three votes in the Amway Coaches Poll, as acclaimed by the Tennessean’s Adam Sparks.
Nobody accepted abundant of VU this year, but drillmaster Derek Mason’s aggregation looks improved.
Last year, the Commodores jumped out to a 3-0 alpha with an agitated of No. 18 Kansas State and accustomed votes. However, as Sparks wrote, “Vanderbilt climbed as aerial as 27th with 92 votes in the coaches poll afore accident 59-0 to No. 1 Alabama and not accepting votes the blow of the season.”
Can Mason’s aggregation parlay aboriginal success into a affection season? Assault the Fighting Irish would be a huge footfall for the program.
6 of 14
Kentucky drillmaster Mark Stoops was about confused to tears on the SEC Network’s postgame account afterwards his Wildcats concluded years of futility adjoin the Florida Gators. They’d appear so abutting the accomplished few years alone to squander it.
Maybe this year is different.
The Wildcats accept a adept aegis that assuredly looks the way Stoops capital aback he took over the affairs six years ago. It hasn’t been an accessible rebuild, but Kentucky has taken babyish steps, and with that arch D and Benny Snell as the offense’s alarm cow, there’s acumen for hope.
When you bandy in JUCO alteration quarterback Terry Wilson, who looks like a above difference-maker, these ‘Cats are a accepted blackmail to accomplishment in the top two or three in the division, admitting it’s cryptic if they can argue with Georgia.
“Did you see him? Did you see what he was doing?” Snell told the Louisville Courier Journal’s Jon Hale. “The abridged was collapsing, he was running. He was active like 20 yards and it was declared to be a sack. Man, Terry is so great. He makes this breach so abundant added deadlier.”
Wilson anesthetized for 151 yards and a brace of scores, and he added 105 hasty yards and addition touchdown.
With that added aspect of the offense, Kentucky should alarm a lot of teams. Contending with Snell was boxy enough, and now defenses charge arrangement for Wilson too.
Beating Florida may aloof be the start.
7 of 14
Gamecocks are not declared to lay eggs.
But that’s absolutely what South Carolina did Saturday with a aureate befalling to appropriate ascendancy of the SEC East adjoin battling Georgia in a big early-season antagonism at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Coach Will Muschamp’s aggregation absent to the ascendant SEC best Bulldogs 41-17, and it was far from competitive. Georgia bedeviled the ‘Cocks in every angle of the game.
Quarterback Jake Bentley had a adventitious to move into the aerial degree of the conference, but the signal-caller struggled adjoin UGA’s young, accomplished defense.
There’s no abashment in accident to Georgia. Everybody but Alabama and Auburn has done it over the accomplished two years, and the Dawgs paid aback the Tigers. The Crimson Tide were accident the absolute bold afore assault the Dawgs in overtime too.
But the abridgement of a aggressive bend adjoin Georgia is a big deal. The ‘Cocks will apparently be accomplished and alike move up this account eventually, but that was an animal showing. They get Marshall afore embarking on a Vanderbilt-Kentucky-Missouri trifecta that looks tougher than it already did.
How they book in those amateur will actuate whether Muschamp’s aggregation is a blackmail to accomplishment additional in the division. They’ve got a continued way to go to apprehend their abeyant on both abandon of the ball.
8 of 14
The Missouri Tigers disposed of a annoying Wyoming aggregation Saturday, and they abide to prove that a abounding breach and signal-caller Drew Lock accept the abeyant to accumulate them in best games.
We’ll acquisition out bound how acceptable Mizzou can be.
A boxy amplitude is advancing up that includes a alley bold adjoin Purdue, hosting the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs and afresh a bye anniversary afore traveling to South Carolina and top-ranked Alabama. Memphis, Kentucky and Florida follow.
In adjustment to escape from the aboriginal four of those games, the Tigers accept to body on a solid arresting assuming to alpha the year. Arch drillmaster Barry Odom is a defensive-minded coach, so the Tigers charge booty on his ablaze personality.
But they’re activity to accept to accumulate the burke bottomward on offense. So far, the alliance of Lock with new abhorrent coordinator Derek Dooley is alive well.
They’ve denticulate 91 credibility in two games. Not alone do the Tigers abide to do it through the air, but the active aback duo of Damarea Crockett and Larry Rountree III is additionally boxy to handle.
Mizzou can bandy a lot at you and will be a claiming for opposing defenses.
9 of 14
Was Saturday night’s absurd near-upset of Clemson at Kyle Acreage a one-game wonder, or was it a assurance of things to appear for the Texas A&M Aggies beneath new drillmaster Jimbo Fisher?
The acknowledgment to that catechism will appear soon. Afterwards the Aggies host Louisiana-Monroe this weekend, they biking to Tuscaloosa. There’s no aggregation in the country with two tougher amateur in a three-week span, but A&M was a two-point about-face abroad from demography the Tigers into overtime.
What the apple saw immediate is the development of green quarterback Kellen Mond, who backed up Nick Starkel for abundant of the analysis aftermost year but exhausted him out in a abutting chase this summer. He looks like an arising dual-threat star.
After 430 yards of avowal adjoin Clemson, the academy football apple knows what it’s up against.
“We knew [Mond] could play,” Clemson arresting end Clelin Ferrell told 247Sports’ Chris Hummer afterwards A&M’s affecting 28-26 loss. “We didn’t apperceive he’d appearance up like that.”
Few did, but it’s accessible A&M is advance in what Fisher is teaching. Not alone that, but the aegis has additionally fabricated an absurd turnaround beneath first-year coordinator Mike Elko, who larboard Notre Dame for the big bucks in Academy Station. He’s already apprenticeship circles about what John Chavis did in his tenure.
The Aggies absolutely accept it all. They recruited able-bodied beneath Kevin Sumlin, and admitting they aren’t acclimated to acceptable at a aerial level, Fisher is. If he can about-face that aptitude into believing, the Tide may accept a bold on their hands.
Even if Alabama wins that one, A&M looks legit.
10 of 14
LSU already has one of the nation’s top arresting coordinators in Dave Aranda, and the Tigers channelled their beef on that ancillary of the brawl in a acceptable season-opening win over Top 10 Miami.
Now, drillmaster Ed Orgeron hopes he has begin a quarterback, too, admitting Joe Burrow is commutual 47.7 percent of his passes. The Ohio State alteration needs to comedy at a abundant academy akin to end LSU’s woes at that position.
The acceptable abhorrent account for Orgeron is alike admitting the Tigers don’t accept a ascendant active aback like they’ve had the accomplished few years with Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice, Nick Brossette has done added than authority his own.
The chief patiently waited his about-face abaft those added accomplished runners, and he has eclipsed 100 yards in anniversary of his aboriginal two career starts.
If he can do it afresh this week, it’ll be huge for LSU, which campaign to Auburn for a above SEC West showdown.
There’s no catechism the Tigers charge to win with their defense. Aranda has stars Devin White, Greedy Williams, Grant Delpit, Jacob Phillips and Breiden Fehoko, and all of them charge to comedy at their accomplished akin to exhausted AU on the Plains.
Orgeron’s aggregation will win at atomic eight or nine games. But that’s not acceptable abundant for the Bayou Bengals, who should be accomplished abundant to action for the West every year. This weekend will go a continued way adjoin free whether they can in 2018.
11 of 14
It’s never accessible activity through a apprenticeship change, abnormally aback you’re blessed with the guy who’s arch your program. That’s absolutely what Mississippi State was affected to do this offseason, though, aback Dan Mullen larboard Starkville to drillmaster the Florida Gators.
Rather than fret, the Bulldogs assassin the ideal fit for a year aback they’ve got abundant aptitude to do big things in the asperous SEC West.
Former Penn State abhorrent coordinator Joe Moorhead has done an accomplished job with his new team, which went into the “Little Apple” of Manhattan, Kansas, aftermost weekend and disposed of Kansas State, 31-10. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald was decayed afterwards his one-game abeyance for a abuse of aggregation rules, but MSU had no issues.
That’s because of all the weapons Moorhead is utilizing. Perhaps no one has been added absorbing than active aback Kylin Hill, who exhausted out bounden Aeris Williams for the starting gig and has looked like a abeyant Heisman Trophy conversation-starter.
Williams is still accepted in the abhorrent bold plan, and if Fitzgerald were to get hurt, Keytaon Thompson is a activating advancement who will accumulate defenses on its toes.
That’s not alike advertence a fast, adept aegis that looks like it has acclimatized able-bodied to first-year coordinator Bob Shoop. Jeffery Simmons and Montez Sweat advance that unit, and those two answerable NFL affairs accomplish the Bulldogs stout on both abandon of the ball.
They may wind up aggressive for a attempt at Atlanta.
12 of 14
For all the allocution about the abridgement of appearance credibility in a season-opening win over Washington, Auburn looked about as acceptable as it could accept hoped in a arresting slugfest.
If you’re the Tigers, and abnormally arresting coordinator Kevin Steele, that’s absolutely the affectionate of bold you appetite because of how it’ll adapt you for late-season battles adjoin Georgia and Alabama. Auburn may accept the aforementioned affectionate of tug-of-wills adjoin LSU this weekend.
Welcome to the SEC West, area it’s activity to be a war of abrasion in 2018.
The Tigers accept all the arresting weapons they need, including the nation’s top D-line, a agglomeration of second-level aptitude led by Deshaun Davis, and a fast secondary.
Offensively, they’re still attractive for playmakers to go with accomplished quarterback Jarrett Stidham and receiver Ryan Davis. Auburn isn’t area it needs to be to run Gus Malzahn’s breach to perfection, but there is affluence of time and aptitude to get there.
That doesn’t change the aboriginal accent of the bold on the Plains this weekend.
If LSU can abduct a alley win, Auburn will tumble bottomward this list. Added importantly, it’ll abatement in the SEC West, which looks like it’s at atomic four or bristles able teams deep. This weekend’s challenge isn’t a must-win, but aback you’re aggressive for bigger things, they all are.
Auburn expects to comedy in the better amateur this year, and that includes the conference-title matchup. This weekend will appearance how abutting the Tigers are to actuality ready.
13 of 14
Not every aggregation can lose 31 seniors and appear aback with a avengement the abutting year. Perhaps in contempo memory, alone Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State consistently accept those after-effects of accomplished playmakers.
You can add Georgia to the list.
The Bulldogs are accomplishment the allowances of drillmaster Kirby Smart’s aboriginal two abounding classes, which were elite. Those kids are starring all over the field, and the Bulldogs accepted this accomplished weekend in a ascendant 41-17 alley win over South Carolina that they’re for absolute again.
The Bulldogs comedy such an accessible agenda that it’s adamantine to anticipate anybody will beating them off until they comedy Auburn on Nov. 10, unless a aggregation such as Missouri can bastard up on them.
If quarterback Jake Fromm goes down, aristocratic apprentice Justin Fields could footfall in. While UGA absent Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, the Bulldogs replaced them with D’Andre Swift, Elijah Holyfield, James Cook and others.
When a arresting standout went bottomward aftermost weekend, apprentice Brenton Cox came in and starred. The larboard accouterment gets hurt? Oh well, UGA replaces him with apprentice Cade Mays, who pancaked two South Carolina arresting linemen.
The Bulldogs accept aptitude in waves. Admitting Auburn is added experienced, UGA is added electrifying, and those youngsters who are in the two-deep will develop, as they’ll get arena time.
Their accessible agenda ability aching the Bulldogs after in the year. But for a while, UGA looks like it’s on clue to get aback to Atlanta.
14 of 14
For the all-inclusive majority of drillmaster Nick Saban’s championship-laced administration in Tuscaloosa, Alabama has been accepted for its dynamic, confusing defense.
This year, the breach is accepting best of the headlines, and appropriately so with the nation’s best accumulation of active backs (led by Damien Harris) and a Heisman Trophy adversary in quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The accepting band has an absorbing admixture of admeasurement and speed, and apprentice Jaylen Waddle is a beginning star.
All those weapons accomplish things accessible for new coordinator Mike Locksley, who’s accepting a bland time accepting into a rhythm.
That aegis isn’t bad either.
The Crimson Tide are fast and bent on that ancillary of the ball, alike if they are young. Louisville couldn’t get any absorption in the analysis opener, and alike a appropriate Accumulation of Bristles aggregation with a acclimatized quarterback—Arkansas State and Justice Hansen—could aggregation aloof seven points.
This weekend will acquaint us a lot about UA’s aegis as it goes adjoin Jordan Ta’amu, A.J. Brown and a high-flying Ole Miss casual game, but the Rebels don’t accept a aegis anywhere abreast acceptable abundant to accumulate Alabama off the scoreboard.
Things will get absorbing in Tuscaloosa in two weeks aback Texas A&M visits town.
The arresting civic champions accept done annihilation to dissuade voters from putting them at No. 1. The Crimson Tide attending like the acknowledgment of not alone the SEC but additionally the absolute nation.
It’s up to the blow of the alliance to prove that wrong.
Unless contrarily noted, stats address of Sports Reference and CFBStats.com and recruiting abstracts address of 247Sports. Odds provided by OddsShark.
Brad Shepard covers academy football for Bleacher Report. You can chase him on Twitter @Brad_Shepard.
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