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How Good a Weekend Did the SEC Have?

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Just monitoring the general chatter on Twitter since Thursday, it seems like a lot of folks think the SEC didn't have that great a weekend. I don't think it's hard to understand why when you look at how the schedule went.

Mississippi State routed Memphis from the first snap on Thursday, which means most people tuned it out. A lot of the focus instead went to a game that was actually in doubt for much of it, Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky. It was a hideous performance by the 'Cats, which caused WKU to question whether UK is really SEC-caliber.

Alabama likewise manhandled Kent State, again causing people not interested in the quarterback derby to tune out. Instead, most people switched over to Auburn-Utah State, a game which made last year's SEC and national champion look like it was on the same level as a mediocre WAC team. Ole Miss then got unopposed air time during its sloppy, lo-fi heartbreaker against BYU. Finally in the evening, Georgia fell behind Boise State 28-7 before making the score look a little nicer in a game that was highly anticipated from when it was first announced.

Four teams had bad games, and all four got a lot of attention. Here's the thing though: none of them were supposed to be the conference's best teams. Kentucky was the preseason consensus' fifth place team, and Auburn and Ole Miss were the fifth and sixth place teams in the West. Georgia was picked second in the much weaker East, and it's no better than fifth in the league (behind Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, and South Carolina) depending on how you feel about Mississippi State and Florida.

The consensus top team in the league, Alabama, beat Kent State 48-3. It gave up less than 100 total yards and held the Golden Flashes to -9 rushing yards. LSU, the next on the consensus, embarrassed fellow top-five team Oregon without its top quarterback, second-leading receiver, and defensive core from 2010. Arkansas dismissed Missouri State in every way you could ask for (including the 51-7 on the scoreboard). Once Steve Spurrier quit playing games, South Carolina outscored ECU 56-17 over the final three quarters. For completeness' sake let's note here that Florida won 41-3, Tennessee won 42-16, and Vandy (Vandy!) won 45-14 over their various cupcake opponents.

It's hard to ask for everyone in the conference to have a good weekend at the same time. The teams that are supposed to be the best looked like the best. The potential weaknesses exposed came from the middle and bottom of the league, and that's where you'd expect to find it. Am I being a bit too sunny with this assessment, or was it really a good opening weekend?