Three games: What happened Week 1 and what to look for Week 2 - Tucson News Now

Three games: What happened Week 1 and what to look for Week 2

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(RNN) – The first week of the college football season didn't disappoint, and the second week looks like it will be even better.

Below is a look at three games from the opening week and what they mean going forward followed by a look at three big games from next week and the impact they will have.

Week 1 recap:

South Carolina 17, Vanderbilt 13

For South Carolina, several issues need to be worked through. Steve Spurrier will have to figure out how to balance his offense and make sure Connor Shaw stays healthy. Marcus Lattimore looked healthy in his first game coming off ACL surgery, but the passing game didn't offer much relief in the terms of balance.

The Gamecocks' defense was shaky at times as well, and against a team with better weapons than Vanderbilt, South Carolina will have a lot of problems if it can't fix holes in the secondary and get a better pass rush from Jadeveon Clowney.

For Vanderbilt, this was a good sign of things to come. Jordan Rodgers looks to have the making of a stellar quarterback. He needs some more experience, one or two more playmakers and an open phone line his brother, Aaron, who quarterbacks the Green Bay Packers.

Coach James Franklin is seen as a savior of sorts to get Vanderbilt to a respectable level in the SEC. The Commodores were just one or two plays away from having knocked off the nation's No. 9 team, so that respect may not be too far away.

Tennessee 35, N.C. State 21

There weren't many people expecting Tennessee to do great things this season, and Vols fans would have probably just been happy to squeak out a win. However, when Tyler Bray showed an affinity for the deep ball and Cordarrelle Patterson made them forget about the loss of Da'Rick Rogers, the expectations got bumped up a little bit.

Patterson had 93 yards receiving and 72 rushing, with a touchdown both ways to power the Vols. Zach Rogers added 87 yards receiving and a touchdown, and Justin Hunter was a model of consistency with nine catches for 73 yards.

Bray will face much tougher tests than the Wolfpack, but he has plenty of weapons to get the job done. If Tennessee can develop its offensive line and inside rushing attack, its offense will continue to have big games.

That's what coach Derek Dooley needs from them, because his job is in jeopardy if Tennessee misses out on a bowl again this season. Dooley downplayed what the win over N.C. State meant for the future, and he was right to do so because any build up of expectations could prove detrimental to his employment if Tennessee has another late-season collapse.

Clemson 26, Auburn 19

In a somewhat similar matchup to UT-N.C. State, this was a game of what were considered evenly matched teams. Clemson was much higher ranked, but it was playing without top wideout Sammy Watkins.

Auburn showed flashes of brilliance on offense, but defensively left much to be desired. Clemson was able to exploit Auburn with its balanced attack and moved the ball consistently all game. Clemson was a yard away from taking an 11-point lead in the final minutes, but settled for a field goal. Andre Ellington was able to rush for 231 yards for Clemson, and that kept all options on the table.

Offensively, Auburn moved the ball well, too, but couldn't convert at crucial times. Tre Mason had 106 yards rushing and Onterio McCalebb had 82, but neither found the end zone. Kiehl Frazier had a few big throws for the Auburn, but didn't utilize many options. Receiver Emory Blake caught four balls for 109 yards and a touchdown, and tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen had four catches for 71 yards. Only two other players had catches and neither gained more than 8 yards.

Auburn will need to spread the ball around more than that to keep its offense from sputtering.

Games to watch in Week 2 (times Eastern):

Auburn at Mississippi State, noon, ESPN

This game provided one of the best matchups and most exciting finishes last season. Auburn edged out the Bulldogs 41-34 when it stopped Chris Relf at the goal line as time expired. Auburn went on to a 7-5 record in the regular season and Mississippi State went 6-6. Both teams won their respective bowl games.

This game could carry similar implications regarding overall record and help build the team's confidence. Auburn has to rebound from the loss to Clemson and will be on the road. The game is more important to Auburn because it has a slightly tougher schedule the rest of the way through the season. The teams' nonconference slate is virtually identical and both play all other teams from the SEC West, including Alabama, LSU and Arkansas.

Auburn, however, will face Georgia and Vanderbilt from the East while the Bulldogs get Tennessee and Kentucky. If Auburn starts 0-2 it could be devastating because LSU and Arkansas both come calling in the next three weeks, setting up a potential 1-4 start, assuming it beats Louisiana-Monroe.

A win for Mississippi State could be the springboard to a 7-0 record before a date with Alabama.

But, unlike the Tigers, this will be Mississippi State's first test of the season. The Bulldogs opened with a 56-9 drubbing of Jackson State so where they match up against SEC opponents is anybody's guess. The Bulldogs were ranked No. 14 this time last year when Auburn toppled them, but they sport no ranking this season.

The hallmark of a good team is taking advantage of opportunities and winning the close games. Both teams will be looking to pass that test.

Florida at Texas A&M, 3:30 p.m., ESPN

It's Aggie Spirit meets the Gator Chomp. The Midnight Yell meets The Boys From Old Florida. The 12th Man meets the Ghost of Tim Tebow.

Texas A&M gets its welcome to the SEC from the Gators, who will be traveling further west in the regular season than they have since playing Southern California in 1983 and their furthest trip of any kind since the 2006 BCS national championship game in Glendale, Arizona.

For their trouble, the Gators will face an opponent trying to prove its endless advertisements from last year weren't a waste of time and money, though justifying this one will take decades.

And to top it off, A&M has a new coach and hasn't played a game yet. Good luck with that.

Actually, it should be a good game. Florida looked like it didn't know what it was doing against Bowling Green on Saturday so the Gators should fit right in. A&M will have to create a new identity in the SEC and will likely try to stake its claim to the title of Team That Least Needs A Running Back.

If history is our guide, that title usually spells disaster for an SEC team. (Remember when Kentucky had Tim Couch? Remember their running back? Yeah, didn't think so.) While at Houston, Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin presided over an offense that set records for total offense and passing yards. But how many quality defenses did Houston see? If you said fewer than eight, you would be correct.

While A&M is carving out an identity, Florida will be trying to figure out its identity as well. Mike Gillislee looks like the go-to guy for Florida's offense and it didn't look like Florida had much of a second option behind him. Maybe the Gators held back because they were playing Bowling Green. We'll find out in a week.

Georgia at Missouri, 7:45 p.m., ESPN2

The Tigers also will be vying to show they belong, and bless their hearts, they're trying so hard to be Southern. It takes more than wheat fields (none in the South), cowboy hats (uh, that's Texas, guys) and riding in a boat without a drop of water in sight to fit in. Taunting Florida, Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia is a good way to start, but you should probably beat them first (and, no, 1966 does not count).

What Missouri does have, though, that will fit in is a fairly good football team. The Tigers went 7-5 last year and then won the Independence Bowl. They also picked up a win over fellow newcomer Texas A&M.

The SEC is a different brand of football, for sure, but Missouri has held its own in the Big 12 for several years and should be OK. The Tigers should not, however, think that because Georgia slogged through some early ineptitude against Buffalo that it is weak and vulnerable.

Georgia is a sporadic team, but was dealing with several players out due to suspension and injury, all of whom will be back this week. The Bulldogs undoubtedly held back some of their gameplan as well, which will not be true against the Tigers.

A win by Missouri would get its season off to a great start. A win by Georgia would get March Richt off the hot seat for a couple of hours.

It's not an easy opening week for the two new teams. They could both win or both lose. That will be the biggest difference the Tigers and Aggies both face. Easy weeks just don't happen.

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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