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Florida began the 2021 college football season with a 35-14 win against Florida Atlantic on Saturday, but they weren’t the only SEC team to start the year on the right foot. The Southeastern Conference finished the first week of college football with a 11-2 record, including victories from Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M and Tennesse.
One of the two losses surprisingly comes from LSU, and Ole Miss is the only team in the conference set to play its first game on Monday.
Here is a breakdown of each game played across the SEC this week.
Tennessee 38, Bowling Green 6
Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel
Tennessee kicked off the week of SEC play on Thursday with a relatively easy 38-6 win against Bowling Green. It's a new era in Knoxville after bringing over former UCF coach Josh Heupel and former UCF athletic director Danny White. There are also new players on the team, including Michigan transfer Joe Milton, who completed 12 of 24 attempted passes for 145 yards. The offense has a lot to work on, but there are bound to be early season woes with all the newness surrounding the team.
No. 1 Alabama 44, No. 16 Miami 13
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Alabama earned the top spot on the preseason Coaches Poll once again this year, and the Miami game showed everyone exactly why. Quarterback Bryce Young played like a four-year started despite being only a sophomore, and the defense looked strong as usual. Miami was held to two field goals and a touchdown. It would have been two touchdowns but the Crimson Tide stuffed Hurricanes quarterback D'Eriq King on fourth and goal in the third quarter. Florida hosts Alabama in two weeks and Emory Jones could be in for a rough night if he's still the starter.
No. 5 Georgia 10, No. 2 Clemson 3
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
The biggest matchup across all of college football this weekend was Georgia and Clemson facing off. Both teams are considered among the best in the country and it led to a low-scoring affair. Clemson's new quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei is replacing an all-time college great in Trevor Lawrence. It's safe to say that going 19-for-37 for 178 yards with an interception is a step down at the position. Pegged as a preseason Heisman candidate, Uiagalelei looks far from it. Georgia was masterful on defense, holding Clemson to just 180 yards overall. That means Clemson finished with a net of two yards on the ground. Whenever Florid takes on Georgia it's a big game, but it's even bigger this year with the Gators' new rushing identity and the Bulldogs' stellar rush defense.
No. 6 Texas A&M 41, Kent State 10
Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports
Despite the final score, Texas A&M faced more competition than expected from Kent State. It was a familiar story at quarterback for the No. 6 team in the nation. Haynes King found himself in his first start with a new offensive line and things didn't go great. Kent State picked off the Aggies three times and kept things relatively close until the third quarter. Going into the season it was the defense that earned the team so much recognition. They performed well, holding Kent State to 336 total yards. The Golden Flashes averaged over 600 yards a game on offense last year, so that's an off night for them.
No. 11 Florida 35, Florida Atlantic 10
Syndication: Gainesville Sun
Florida opened up the season with a win against FAU and Gators fans are already talking about a potential quarterback controversy. Emory Jones, who Dan Mullen says is still the starter, got off to a rocky start in his first game at the helm for Florida. After two good-looking drives in the first, Jones started looking uncomfortable in the passing game and threw two interceptions. Anthony Richardson came in for Jones during the fourth quarter after playing one series in the first half and delivered several highlights off of scrambles. He finished the night with 160 yards on seven carries. Florida's rushing attack, including Richardson, dominated and accounted for the bulk of the team's offense. Running back Malik Davis went for over 100 yards and Dameon Pierce rushed in two touchdowns.
UCLA 38, No. 13 LSU 27
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
LSU suffered a disappointing loss at the hand of the UCLA Bruins on Saturday night. The defense looks to be an issue again this year for the Tigers after LSU allowed more than 450 yards and over 35 points. Communication seemed to be lacking for LSU and it resulted in some missed assignments and big plays. Quarterback Max Johnson faced constant pressure and looked confused at times by UCLA's defensive formations. Florida fans will take this news in stride as many (including this writer) predicted the Gators to struggle with LSU.
Kentucky 45, UL Monroe 10
Syndication: The Courier-Journal
Kentucky's offense exploded in the Wildcats' opening victory against UL Monroe. Penn State transfer led the offense at quarterback with 367 yards in the air and four touchdowns. Under new offensive coordinator Liam Coen, Kentucky put up 341 yards in the first half. The defense held the Warhawks to 87 total yards as well, so it was pretty one-sided once Kentucky recovered from an early slip-up. Florida will travel to Kentucky on October 2 and should take a closer look at the Wildcats' new offensive scheme before that time.
Arkansas 38, Rice 17
AP Photo/Michael Woods
Arkansas made a nice comeback against Rice in the third quarter on Saturday and never looked back. After quarterback K.J. Jefferson busted a 34-yard touchdown run in the first for Arkansas, Rice responded with three straight-scoring drives to go up 17-7. Midway through the third quarter, Jefferson ran into the endzone for the second time to bring the Razorbacks within three. Arkansas scored three more touchdowns in the fourth to close things out. Trelon Smith finished the night with 102 yards on 22 carries.
Mississippi State 35, Louisiana Tech 34
Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
Mississippi State and Lousiana Tech had one of the most competitive games of the weekend on Saturday. Mississippi State scored 21 points in the finals 12 minutes of the game to complete a comeback that required a missed 46-yard field goal from Tech to seal the deal. The game started in favor of the Bulldogs as they went up 14-0 early. Four turnovers and 12 penalties later, and the team found themselves in a bad spot. Coach Mike Leach rallied his team and quarterback, Will Rogers (not the vaudeville performer), and the roller coaster ride to victory began.
Missouri 34, Central Michigan 24
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Missouri pulled away from Central Michigan in the fourth quarter after a close battle between the two schools. Central Michigan's coach, Jim McElwain, was not with the team after requiring an emergency appendectomy on Wednesday. the Chippewas stayed in it though, holding Mizzou to a three-point lead early in the fourth. It was then that the Missouri offense took charge and drove down the field and went up by two scores with under eight minutes to play. Quarterback Connor Bazelak completed 21 of 31 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
Auburn 60, Akron 10
Syndication: The Montgomery Advertiser
The score says it all for this one. Akron was simply outmatched facing the Auburn Tigers. Aubrun went up 37-0 by halftime, scoring on the team's first five drives. The reserves came in midway through the third quarter, and the defense looked strong throughout. We should have a better idea of where Auburn's true talent level is at after the Penn State game on Sept. 18.
South Carolina 46, Eastern Illinois 0
Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
Much like the Auburn game, South Carolina won without much resistance. The Gamecocks shut out Eastern Illinois, an FCS team, and broke a six-game losing streak that dates back to last year. Quarterback Zeb Noland has a unique story. Months ago he was just a graduate assistant who was starting his career as a coach. Now he's a starting quarterback throwing touchdowns in the SEC. Four touchdowns to be exact. Noland's day wasn't perfect, despite the score of the game. He completed 13 of 22 passes and finished with just 121 yards. No interceptions and a third of your completions going for six isn't a bad way to start the season, though.
ETSU 23, Vanderbilt 3
Syndication: The Tennessean
Vanderbilt was upset by East Tennessee State 23-3 on Saturday night. It was a disappointing debut for Vanderbilt coach and alumnus Clark Lea. ETSU forced three turnovers in the fourth quarter and squashed any hopes of a comeback for the Commodores. With uncertainty at quarterback and in the midst of an 11-game losing streak, things don't look good for Vandy. Florida takes on the Commodores on October 9. [vertical-gallery id=52455]