Road to Atlanta Week Two: A hierarchy begins to take shape

October 15th, 2016 – Khari Blasingame (23) runs with the ball during Vanderbilt's 17-16 win against the University of Georgia in Sanford Stadium Saturday afternoon. Photo by Blake Dover.

As expected, the majority of the SEC East cruised to wins over mid-major opponents in Week Two.

In the week’s marquee game, Georgia defeated Notre Dame 20-19, as the Bulldogs’ stingy linebacker corps allowed just 55 rushing yards. True freshman quarterback Jake Fromm threw for 141 yards in a serviceable first collegiate start. Georgia took advantage of two Notre Dame fumbles to take charge in the non-conference matchup.

South Carolina crushed Missouri to kick off divisional play. Missouri was hurt by too many dropped passes, but still outgained the Gamecocks in a 31-13 loss. South Carolina intercepted two passes, and budding star Deebo Samuel scored two touchdowns via a kickoff return and a 25-yard rush.

Tennessee began their 42-7 win over Indiana State with a kickoff return for a touchdown. The scoring kept coming for the Volunteers, who led at halftime by 28. Running backs John Kelly and Carlin Fils-aime complemented each other well, with Kelly shouldering the brunt of the workload and Fils-aime adding speed and two touchdowns on three carries.

Kentucky needed to score 17 unanswered points late to emerge victorious over Eastern Kentucky 27-16. The Wildcats’ defense tightened up in the second half and had two takeaways to keep the game close. Running back Benny Snell ran for three yards before halftime, but added another 100 in the last two quarters to lead the offensive comeback.

Vanderbilt rolled to a 42-0 shutout of Alabama A&M, the Commodores’ first shutout since 2012. Kyle Shurmur set a new school record for completion percentage after he completed 83.3 percent of his passes. Vanderbilt’s special teams blocked a punt and deflected another in a dominant game.

Florida’s home game against Northern Colorado was cancelled due to statewide evacuations for Hurricane Irma.

Georgia established themselves as the clear leader in the SEC East, but the Bulldogs have yet to play a conference game. Tennessee and Vanderbilt dominated their FCS opponents. Both teams, along with Florida, could pose a threat to Georgia as divisional play ramps up.

Looking ahead to Week Three, Tennessee visits Florida in a matchup that could establish either team as Georgia’s main challenger in the East. In the other divisional game, Kentucky plays South Carolina in what should be a defensive battle. Vanderbilt faces Kansas State’s powerful downhill rushing attack. Missouri hopes to rebound against Purdue after a disappointing start to the season. Georgia hosts Samford as a final warm-up before conference play.

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