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Week 2 exposes serious flaws in SEC's logic

Earlier this week, after defending national champion Ohio State ran away from Virginia Tech 42-24 on the road, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema criticized the No. 1 Buckeyes' remaining schedule.

"Ohio State's ranked No. 1, and they have one game remaining on their schedule that has anybody ranked right now," Bielema told reporters earlier this week. "We're going to play eight straight opponents that are ranked."

Not anymore.

After the second Saturday of the 2015 season, the big, bad SEC doesn't look as good or as daunting. The Razorbacks, who were considered a dark-horse pick to win the SEC West, fell to, ahem, Toledo 16-12 in Little Rock, Arkansas.

"I'm embarrassed for our fans," Bielema said. "If there's a silver lining in any of it, it's not a conference loss."

Believe it or not, it got even worse for the SEC on Saturday. No. 23 Tennessee, which seemed ready to finally turn the corner in the SEC East, blew a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter and lost to Oklahoma 31-24 in double overtime at Neyland Stadium.

In a scene that has become all too familiar for UT fans, the Volunteers once again failed to finish a game. OU's Sterling Shepard caught a 5-yard touchdown to tie the score at 17 with 40 seconds left in regulation, and then he scored the winning touchdown on an 18-yard catch in the second overtime. Oklahoma's Zack Sanchez intercepted Joshua Dobbs' third-down pass in the second overtime to end the game.

"You have to learn from it," Volunteers coach Butch Jones said.

Tennessee's collapse wasn't even the worst performance by an SEC team on Saturday. No. 6 Auburn, a popular preseason pick to win the SEC and make the College Football Playoff, nearly lost to an FCS opponent at home. The Tigers avoided becoming victims of one of college football's biggest upsets by coming from behind to beat Jacksonville State 27-20 in overtime at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

After falling behind 20-13, the Tigers tied the game on Jeremy Johnson's 10-yard touchdown pass to Melvin Ray with 39 seconds to go. They went ahead 27-20 on Peyton Barber's 4-yard run in overtime, then stopped the Gamecocks on a fourth-and-goal play from the Auburn 21 to survive.

"We've got some growing up to do -- there's no doubt about that," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "A lot of times in the course of a season, it's how you win. Today we faced major adversity, and we faced major adversity at home."

It was adversity from a team that never should have challenged the Tigers.

Johnson, who was supposed to pick up where former Auburn quarterbacks Cam Newton and Nick Marshall left off in Malzahn's high-scoring offense, is completing only 60.4 percent of his passes with five interceptions in two games. Auburn's defense, which was supposed to be better under new coordinator Will Muschamp, struggled to get Jacksonville State's offense off the field.

"We won, and we didn't play well," Malzahn said. "It's easy to see that. We didn't play up to our standard, and we have to figure out a way to do that. I will say this: We're 2-0, so our team morale is fine. We just need to play better."

So does the rest of the SEC, besides perhaps No. 2 Alabama, No. 14 LSU, No. 16 Texas A&M and No. 17 Ole Miss, which look like the league's strongest teams after two weeks.

No. 10 Georgia shook off a slow start to win at Vanderbilt 31-14 on Saturday, and quarterback Greyson Lambert didn't look nearly as good as he did in the opener. Two-time defending SEC East champion Missouri struggled to put away Arkansas State 27-20, and Florida limped to a 31-24 victory over East Carolina at home.

Kentucky broke a 22-game SEC road losing streak by beating South Carolina 26-22. The Gamecocks looked bad on offense for the second week in a row.

The Crimson Tide might end up a legitimate top-four team, and the Aggies and Rebels were as impressive as anyone during the first two weeks.

LSU, which had its opener against FCS member McNeese State canceled because of inclement weather, looked pretty solid in a 21-19 victory at No. 25 Mississippi State on Saturday night. The Tigers might end up better than a lot of us thought they'd be.

The top of the SEC might again be strong, but the conference doesn't look nearly as good top to bottom. During the SEC's unprecedented streak of seven consecutive national championships from 2006 to 2012, the league and its fans liked to boast of its collective strength and past dominance. Entering this weekend, 10 of the SEC's 14 teams were ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

On Saturday, though, we finally saw cracks in the SEC. Ugly losses by Arkansas and Tennessee -- and especially Auburn's unimpressive victory -- put more than a few dents in its reputation.

The rest of the country, and perhaps the College Football Playoff selection committee, don't figure to have a short memory when it comes to the results. Beating Arkansas and Auburn doesn't figure to mean as much as we thought it would.

Playoff teams after Week 2

1. Ohio State: It wasn't a work of art (at least offensively), with the No. 1 Buckeyes playing on a short week, but they shut out Hawaii 38-0 at home. Tailback Ezekiel Elliott ran for 101 yards with three touchdowns.

2. Alabama: After watching rival Auburn struggle against an FCS foe, the Crimson Tide took care of business in a 37-10 win over Middle Tennessee State and outgained the Blue Raiders 532-275 in total offense. Up next: a huge SEC West showdown against surging Ole Miss, which upset the Tide last season.

3. Michigan State: The Spartans stifled Oregon on its final drive to secure a 31-28 win that shores up Michigan State's playoff credentials early in the season. Last season the Ducks used a win over Michigan State to propel themselves into the College Football Playoff; the Spartans hope to do the same this season.

4. Baylor: The Bears haven't really been tested in victories over SMU and FCS member Lamar, and they might not be tested until West Virginia travels to Waco, Texas, on Oct. 17. Seth Russell has looked as good as any quarterback who has played in Baylor's fast-paced offense.

Next four in contention

1. TCU: The Horned Frogs steamrolled FCS member Stephen F. Austin 70-7 on Saturday and piled up 627 yards of offense in the process. But can TCU's defense survive so many injuries and defections during Big 12 play?

2. USC: After quietly blasting Arkansas State and Idaho in consecutive weeks, the Trojans are about to enter the meat of their schedule, starting with next week's home game against Stanford. Road trips to Arizona State and Notre Dame also loom large.

3.Texas A&M: The Aggies followed their impressive opening win over Arizona State with a 56-23 rout of Ball State. Quarterback Kyle Allen was very efficient against the Cardinals, as he completed 10 of 13 passes for 126 yards and three touchdowns.

4. Notre Dame: The Irish survived a 34-27 victory over Virginia despite losing starting quarterback Malik Zaire to a season-ending ankle injury. Can Notre Dame survive the next 10 games without him? Backup DeShone Kizer gets his first start against Georgia Tech at home next week.

Heisman candidates

1. Derrick Henry, Alabama: Henry carried 18 times for 96 yards with three touchdowns in Alabama's 37-10 win over Middle Tennessee. It was his second straight game with three touchdown runs and the first time an SEC player has scored three touchdowns in his team's first two games since Georgia's Knowshon Moreno in 2008.

2. Nick Chubb, Georgia: Chubb ran 19 times for 189 yards in Georgia's 31-14 victory at Vanderbilt. It was his 10th consecutive game with at least 100 yards.

3. Dalvin Cook, Florida State: Cook ran for a career-high 266 yards on 30 carries with three touchdowns in the Seminoles' 34-14 win over USF. It was the first 200-yard rushing game by an FSU player since Sammie Smith had 212 yards in 1988, and it was the second-most rushing yards by a Seminoles player in a game.

4. Cody Kessler, USC: It was another breezy win for the Trojans, and Kessler turned it over to his backup, Max Browne, after passing for 410 yards and three touchdowns. The competition picks up considerably with a visit from Stanford on Saturday.

Photo caption contest

Tweets of the night

1. Nice touch by BYU student section


2. Buckeyes glee at SEC's woes


3. Superheroes in Spartan Stadium


4. Nothing better than a locker room celebration


Best moments

1. Michigan's Jim Harbaugh totally lost his cool on the sideline during Saturday's win over Oregon State at the Big House -- and it was glorious to watch.

2. Florida's mascot -- yeah, the furry, green alligator -- sang the national anthem before Saturday night's game against East Carolina.

3. Rutgers' Janarion Grant had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a 55-yard punt return for a score in the Scarlet Knights' 37-34 loss to Washington State.

4. Do we start calling him the Ice Maker? Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche isn't big enough to be called the Fridge, but he's becoming a scoring machine on offense for the Rebels.

Best plays

1. BYU does it again! Cougars quarterback Tanner Mangum found Mitchell Juergens for a 35-yard touchdown with 45 seconds remaining to put BYU in front 28-24. Last week, Mangum replaced the injured Taysom Hill and led BYU to victory with a Hail Mary pass to beat Nebraska.

2. Notre Dame backup quarterback DeShone Kizer threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Will Fuller with 12 seconds left to beat Virginia 34-27 on the road.

3. Sterling Shepard stunned what had been a raucous Neyland Stadium crowd by pulling in Baker Mayfield's end zone fade to send the game to overtime. He went on to score the winning touchdown and send the Sooners to an improbable win.

4. Florida State's Dalvin Cook had a ridiculous, 74-yard touchdown run to give the Seminoles an early 7-0 lead in their 34-14 win over South Florida.

Worst plays

1. Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire fractured his right ankle late in the third quarter at Virginia and will miss the rest of the season. We've seen too many bad injuries two weeks into the season.

2. Nothing seemed to go right for Tulane in its 65-10 loss at Georgia Tech, including a snap over punter Peter Picerelli's head, which led to a safety in the third quarter.

3. It was a rough day for deep snappers. Oregon State had a punt attempt go 48 yards -- in reverse -- after a bad snap in its 35-7 loss at Michigan.

4. A referee pointed the wrong way in the Oklahoma-Tennessee game before quickly recovering to correct himself. That's how it went for SEC officials on Saturday.

Quotes of the night

1. "I go to bed the night before a game preparing for that to happen, and I just kind of blanked. It was time to play football, and that's the only way I can look at it. I wasn't going to be the guy to come in and lose a game for the Irish." - Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer, who threw a game-winning, 39-yard touchdown to Will Fuller to beat Virginia.

2. "When our backs are against the wall, we are not going to give up. We are going to find a way to win. I'm telling you -- that's big. It doesn't make a difference who you're playing. I'd say most teams wouldn't have won that game." - Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, after his team came from behind to beat FCS member Jacksonville State.

3. "Thank God for our defense today. It's probably best we hit this pothole early in the season. It was a reality check for not just me but for the whole offense. We're not where we thought we were." - Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, after the No. 1 Buckeyes sputtered through the first three quarters of a 38-0 win over Hawaii.

4. "Tempo on our side of the ball kind of puts you to sleep. It's OK." - Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, on his team's slow-paced offense, which was good enough to beat UTSA 30-3.

Stats that matter

1. 149: Points scored by Ole Miss in its first two games. Ole Miss is the first SEC team to score 70 points or more in back-to-back games and the first in any conference to do so since Ohio State in 1996.

2. 1-101: Record for FCS teams against AP top-10 teams since the FBS/FCS split in 1978, after Auburn came from behind to beat Jacksonville State in overtime. The lone victory by an FCS team was Appalachian State's upset of No. 5 Michigan at the Big House in 2007.

3. 11: Yards of offense for FCS member Howard in its 76-0 loss at Boston College. The Bison had 4 passing yards on two completions and 7 rushing yards on 28 attempts. That is the fewest yards allowed by an FBS team in the past 20 years.

4. 134: Points scored by Georgia Tech in its first two games, after the Yellow Jackets defeated FCS member Alcorn State in Week 1 and Tulane 65-10 on Saturday. The Yellow Jackets joined the 1992 Florida State team as the only ACC squads to score 65 points or more in consecutive games.