SEC

Here’s the good, bad and ugly from the SEC’s opening weekend

South Alabama defensive lineman Sir Calvin Wallace (19) celebrates their 21-20 win over Mississippi State in Starkville, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016.
South Alabama defensive lineman Sir Calvin Wallace (19) celebrates their 21-20 win over Mississippi State in Starkville, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. AP

The opening weekend of the college football season certainly didn't quell those growing voices from outside the region that claim the Southeastern Conference is overrated.

Heading into Monday night's showdown between Florida State and Ole Miss in Orlando, the SEC's impenetrable reputation took on sizable damage.

Excluding the Rebels-Seminoles outcome, the SEC posted a 7-6 overall record on the week.

Thursday night’s slate saw “contender” Tennessee squeak past Appalachian State 20-13 and South Carolina edge Vanderbilt 13-10 in what was largely a pillow fight.

The losses Saturday included, West Virginia manhandled Missouri 26-11; Wisconsin rallied late to knock off LSU 16-14; Southern Miss scoured 34 unanswered points to shock Kentucky 44-35 in Lexington; Mississippi State blew a 17-0 halftime lead and lost, 21-20, to South Alabama; and Auburn actually played Clemson much closer in a 19-13 loss than most expected from the Tigers.

On the positive side: Alabama annihilated Southern Call 52-6; Georgia won Kirby Smart’s debut against North Carolina 33-24; Florida knocked off UMass 24-7; Arkansas had to score late to beat Louisiana Tech 21-20; and Texas A&M took UCLA to overtime and came away a 31-24 winner.

Winner of the week

Georgia 33, North Carolina 24: Bulldog fans saw everything they had hoped for Saturday in Smart’s debut. For starters, Chubb looked like he never missed a step, rushing for 222 yards and two touchdowns. And while fifth-year senior Greyson Lambert started the game at quarterback for UGA, QB of the future Jacob Eason came in and did more than hold his own for UGA. The true freshman completed 8 of 12 passes for 131 yards and a touchdown as the Bulldogs rallied from a 24-14 deficit.

Loser of the week

South Alabama 21, Mississippi State 20: This one's easy. Anytime you're a 28-point favorite at home against a team widely considered to be one of the worst in the country, you land in this spot. Even with as poorly as the game went for the Bulldogs (0-1), they still had a chance to win the game as time expired with a 28-yard field goal that clanked off the post.

Can't help but think of Charlie Conway's pep talk to Gordon Bombay: "...but a quarter inch the other way and you'd have missed completely."

South Alabama certainly could end up being better than the preseason prognostications, but the loss certainly wasn't the start to the post-Dak Prescott Era the Bulldog faithful were expecting.

Star player

QB Jalen Hurts (Alabama): There was no way Nick Saban was going to turn the keys to the Lamborghini over to a true freshman, right? Wrong. Hurts had a couple stumbles in his collegiate debut but otherwise played well in Alabama's rout of Southern Cal. He completed 6 of 11 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 36 yards and another two scores.

Statistically speaking

222: So apparently Chubb is feeling OK. After suffering a gruesome knee injury last season it was unclear how effective the Georgia running back was going to be to start the season. The Dawgs probably shouldn't press their luck every week by handing the ball to Chubb 32 times, but the running back made Kirby Smart a winner in his UGA debut, gashing UNC for 222 yards and two scores.

Take a seat

The SEC announced Monday that it won’t seek additional penalties against LSU’s Josh Boutte for his late hit at the end of the Wisconsin loss. LSU previously announced Boutte would be suspended for Saturday’s Jacksonville State game. Boutte was given a flagrant penalty and ejection after crushing Wisconsin’s D’Cota Dixon well after the Badger intercepted Brandon Harris to put the game on ice.

SEC contenders

1. Alabama (1-0)

2. Georgia (1-0)

3. Texas A&M (1-0)

Relegation zone

14. Mississippi State (0-1)

13. Missouri (0-1)

12. Vanderbilt (0-1)

Game to watch

Arkansas at TCU: It’s a pretty week schedule of games as a whole on Sept. 10, with Virginia Tech against Tennessee as the only other standout. Arkansas took big steps forward last season under Bret Bielema but barely beat Louisiana Tech in its opener. TCU, meanwhile, actually trailed early against South Dakota State University and had to end up winning a shootout 59-41. Interestingly enough, former A&M QB Kenny “Trill” Hill is leading the Horned Frogs.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

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