If you think back to last year and remember the build-up to the Georgia-South Carolina game, you'll remember that there were a lot of reasons to think that it was going to be a low-scoring game. Neither team had looked particularly good against their first-week opponents on offense; certainly, both of them combined would play an almost unwatchable game of football.
Instead, they played one of the more interesting games of the year, a shootout where the outcome wasn't determined until the last seconds. Could it be, we wondered, that one or both of those teams actually had an offense?
The answer ended up being no, not really. Georgia would end the year 8th in the SEC in total offense, edging South Carolina, which finished 9th. Aside from Georgia scoring 51 against Arkansas the following week, neither team would score as many points in an SEC game as they did against each other.
So forgive me if I don't say that I'm now convinced that Auburn and Mississippi State have somehow fixed their defenses. Sure, Auburn "only" rang up 349 yards and Mississippi State only collected 244. This was no 3-2, but it was also no show of good offense.
But some of those offensive issues were self-inflicted, such as almost everything bad that happened to Mississippi State in the second half. The play-calling on offense was almost bad enough that you might think Florida fans would reconsider ruing the day Dan Mullen turned over the offensive coordinator job in Gainesville to Steve Addazio. The first part of the third-quarter was beautifully orchestrated through the on-sides kick. And then? After seeing repeatedly that the run and the option were working better than the pass, Mullen continued to go the air for no good reason. And while there are few good reasons to pass when Chris Relf is your signal-caller, the receivers didn't help. A dropped pass on a perfectly thrown ball at the end of the game basically sealed Mississippi State's fate.
None of that is to take credit away from Auburn for what the Tigers did well. Cameron Newton had 205 yards of total offense and another 22 yards on a double-pass; he threw for two touchdowns and just one interception. And the defense did, for the most part, play well when it was most important.
And Auburn fans -- and possibly Mississippi State fans -- have every right to be optimistic that their defense is better this year than last. It's just that the optimism should be measured, if not cautious. As we learned last year, Week 2 results are not always any more reliable than those in Week 1.