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What We Learned from the SEC in Week 2

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Auburn running back Tre Mason picks up some of his 99 yards Saturday against Arkansas State. (Source: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University) Auburn running back Tre Mason picks up some of his 99 yards Saturday against Arkansas State. (Source: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University)
This man, Georgia coach Mark Richt, won a big game Saturday against South Carolina. (Source: Georgia Athletics) This man, Georgia coach Mark Richt, won a big game Saturday against South Carolina. (Source: Georgia Athletics)
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(RNN) – Sweet Tim Tebow, this was a terrible week.

But before ridiculing the SEC, here are a couple of passing shots at other people. Lee Corso is insane, and there's a good story behind Michigan's quarterback wearing No. 98, but it's also perhaps the strangest football-related thing I've ever seen.1

Here is the weekly list of what we learned from watching SEC games in Week 2.

1. Georgia forgot who it was, and that was a good thing. So, Mark Richt can't win a big game, huh? Wrong! Who's laughing now? Who's on the hot seat now? Who just made Steve Spurrier make a Steve Spurrier face?

The correct answers are Mark Richt, not Mark Richt and Mark Richt. Georgia finally won a big game over a higher-ranked team and looked fairly good doing it. It had to happen sooner or later. The Bulldogs even managed to hold on to a two-score lead in the fourth quarter and won 41-30 over South Carolina.

Richt's team had a balanced attack, didn't commit any turnovers, made a goal line stand, played ball control in the fourth quarter and didn't do anything remarkably stupid. Who is this team and what have they done with Georgia?

The sad thing is Georgia always had the potential to do that, they just didn't. In recent years the Bulldogs have had top notch defensive linemen, excellent linebackers, a solid secondary, stellar running backs and perhaps the best quarterback in the country. They've also had a coach who didn't appear to know he had those things.

Aaron Murray was both stellar and efficient, going 17-for-23 and passing for 309 yards and four touchdowns while Todd Gurley ran for 134 yards and a touchdown after getting 30 carries, which is unheard of for a Mark Richt running back. Georgia really should do that more often.

If I have to start taking Georgia seriously, I'm going to be out of things to write about.

2. Florida forgot who it was, and that was a bad thing. First, let's get a little context. Last year, in Florida's two losses, it had nine turnovers – three against Louisville in the Sugar Bowl and six against Georgia. In a 21-16 loss to Miami this week, the Gators had five.

Florida dominated the game. Miami was 1-for-11 on third down, gained 49 yards rushing despite giving all-hype team running back Duke Johnson 21 carries and didn't let Miami's offense get much room to breathe.

The only problem with that is that Miami was able to pick off two passes in the red zone, score on short drives and forget about defending the running game. Solomon Patton had 118 yards and a touchdown for the Gators and Quinton Dunbar had 98, but they're both wide receivers.

Allow me to say that another way. Florida is a running team that is so much of a running team that it resembles a single wing offense – the running back goes left, and the quarterback goes right. There's very little throwing. They win at the line of scrimmage with a slow, plodding offense and crushing defense. It's a proven winner, which is why having two receivers with 100 yards is uncharted water for a single wing team. I mean that for the entire season, not just one game.

The defense was there, and the only time the Gators trailed by enough that throwing was their only option was with 3 minutes left in the game. Jeff Driskel attempted 33 passes and threw for 291 yards with three interceptions. Compare that to a few stat lines from last season in wins against Texas A&M (16 attempts for 162 yards, no interceptions), Tennessee (20 attempts for 219 yards, no interceptions), LSU (12 attempts for 61 yards, no interceptions), Vanderbilt (20 attempts for 77 yards, no interceptions) and South Carolina (16 attempts for 93 yards, no interceptions).

That's three games against good teams with good defenses where the quarterback threw for less than 100 yards, and Florida won all three. That's not an accident. Miami's defense isn't as good as either of those.

Having a proven formula for winning is important, but following that formula is even more important. It's like coach Will Muschamp is the maitre d' at the restaurant where Florida fans like to eat and they called for a reservation next to the fountain in the center of the dining room, but when they show up he forgot to write it down and they have to sit next to the bathroom door.

At this rate, it's only a matter of time before Muschamp gets Richt's reputation as a big game flop.

3. Tennessee has a new identity. Loyal readers of What We Learned (if there even are any) will know that I love the running game. Tennessee has ditched its hey-that-dude-is-open style for a lets-try-actually-blocking-somebody-for-a-change style, and I think it's a good move.

Marlin Lane got 97 yards on the ground and a touchdown in the Vols' 52-20 win over Western Kentucky, which was going for its second SEC win of the season. Rajion Neal added 74 yards and three rushing touchdowns.

I don't know if this new trend is because the Vols have played Western Kentucky2 and Austin Peay, but if they can keep it up, Tennessee will at least have a puncher's chance next week against Oregon.

4. "Johnny Football" is ready for Alabama. Texas A&M had two goals this week against Sam Houston State: 1. Win the game, and 2. Keep Johnny Manziel's ACLs intact. Both happened. Bring on Alabama.

It was a big game for Johnny Signed Football3 even if it was Sam Houston State and he won 65-28. Do you think he could throw for 403 yards, three touchdowns and an interception against just anybody? Actually, he can. I'm not sure where I was going with this.

Oh right, he can still walk. As long as Johnny Football can put on shoulder pads, find a helmet that fits and take two steps under his own power, he's a threat to Alabama and anybody else who dares venture into Aggieland.

Manziel didn't run much against the Fighting Sammies4 because of goal No. 2, but he'll be kicking up a Texas dust storm against the Tide, because if he doesn't A&M won't win. See you next week at 3:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS.

5. James Franklin (player) looks better than last year. This is good news for Missouri faithful because Franklin was pretty bad last year. Of course, the Tigers haven't played anybody yet, so what he's done so far might not mean anything.

But if pointless easy wins in Game 2 don't mean anything then I'm out of a job, and I'm not willing to look behind that door. Franklin threw for 212 yards and rushed (OMG! He can run, too!) for 77 yards in a 38-23 win over Toledo. He's like Johnny Manziel Jr – half the yards and half the win total.

Missouri scored 14 more points over Toledo than Florida did in Week 1. Does this mean Missouri is better than Florida? No, it absolutely does not mean that. Missouri also let Toledo score 17 more points than Florida did. Does this mean Missouri is worse than Florida? No, it absolutely does not mean that, either.

Missouri gets an off week before playing Indiana, Arkansas State and Vanderbilt, so the Tigers' undefeated record could remain intact for another month.

6. South Carolina is overrated. This is nothing new, but it usually doesn't reveal itself until about Week 8. Go back to No. 1 and read all the beautiful prose I composed about Georgia. All of that good stuff was at South Carolina's expense.

Connor Shaw had a good game, throwing for 228 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 75 more. Mike Davis gained 149 yards on the ground and showed great power on a 3-yard touchdown plunge, but that's about all there is good to say about the Gamecocks right now.

They missed a PAT, gave up 538 yards on defense, contributed to Steve Spurrier to make a Steve Spurrier face and the best fight they had was between their coaching staff.

Jadeveon Clowney got a sack, though.

7. Kentucky can crush teams that are there for being crushed. Somewhere there is a Kentucky fan (looking at you, Ashley Judd) who thinks the Wildcats' 41-7 win over Miami (OH) was significant.

Miami (OH) won two games last year, and one of them was against an FCS school. Kentucky lost to in-state directional school Western Kentucky last week and must face ranked foes Louisville, Florida, South Carolina and Alabama in its next four games.

Wildcats fans should be looking forward to Nov. 2 when Kentucky faces Alabama State, the only other team on their schedule they should beat.

8. Guz Malzahn has returned Auburn to its former glory. The Tigers are 2-0, and that's nothing to sneeze at, especially when you consider that since 2008 the only time Auburn wasn't 2-0 to start the season was last year.

Although, in those previous years, each one contained a win over a BCS automatic-qualifying conference team and this year doesn't. But why be negative when there is so much to be positive about? Malzahn guided the Tigers to a 38-9 win over his old team, Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall threw two touchdowns and no interceptions and Cameron Artis-Payne (102 and a touchdown) and Tre Mason (99 and a touchdown) kept the running game on pace.

It also probably helped that Arkansas State got 30 yards in penalties just for being stupid.

9. The crazy Hog Lady's enthusiasm might have been premature. Last week, I chronicled in depth the love Arkansas' resident YouTube celebrity fan Liz Honey has for new coach Bret Bielema. I don't know her, but I'm just guessing she wasn't too thrilled to see her beloved Hogs give up 10-point lead to Samford and have to rally in the fourth quarter for a 31-21 win.

However, she probably did like seeing Alex Collins rush for 172 yards and Jonathan Williams rush for 126. Arkansas gained 333 yards rushing in the game, which is usually what their defense gives up, so the times they could be a-changin'.5

10. Alabama is right where it wants to be. Sports Illustrated just released a big take-down piece on the mighty Tide, providing an eight-step blueprint on how to beat them.

The story is detailed, thorough and sounds like something every coach in Nick Saban's part of the world sent an assistant out to buy. (It looks bad if the head coach buys it himself.) It's also full of anonymous quotes from coaches and former players who kept their identities concealed "for fear of upsetting Saban."

It was only missing one thing: Step 9, which should be "Don't be afraid of Nick Saban."

Extra points: 1There's barely enough fabric to get that big 98 on that little jersey. Skinny guys don't look good wearing fat guy numbers.

2Anybody can look good when their opponent turns the ball over five out of every six plays.

3I've got some new Johnny Manziel nicknames for you: Johnny Trash Talk, Johnny Trainwreck, and John Football, Esquire.

4Sam Houston State is the Bearkats. Think about that for a minute. The school is named after Sam Houston, who was a president, senator, governor and general. Pick one of those. Pick any of those. They're all better than the Bearkats. But, then again, Sammy Bearkat is a mascot national champion, so what do I know?

5Could this be Liz Honey's next song?

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