The Southeastern Conference prides itself on playing the best college football in the land, and many times in recent years — including 2015, according to our research — it can back up that claim.
But like every conference in the FBS, the SEC must claim the bad with the good. Let's do a tale of the tape on its non-conference performance this weekend so far.
► No. 1 Alabama did some in-game experimenting at quarterback and still routed the No. 17 team in the country, 52-6.
► No. 16 Georgia rallied to beat No. 20 North Carolina in a performance that could lead one to believe it's the SEC East's best team.
► Texas A&M got relentless pressure on UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen and held off the No. 24 Bruins in overtime at home.
► Auburn found a defense in the continued absence/confusion of its offense and hung with the No. 2 team in the country, Clemson, before losing 19-13.
Now, the not-so-good:
► No. 6 LSU saved its most physical play for the final minute of the game and was sent home from Wisconsin with a 16-14 loss.
► Mississippi State lost at home to South Alabama, a middle-of-the-road team in college football’s No. 10 conference, the Sun Belt.
► Arkansas needed a touchdown halfway through the fourth quarter to beat Louisiana Tech by one point at home.
► Kentucky didn't fare as well against its Conference USA opponent at home. It gave up 34 consecutive points to end the game against Southern Miss and lost 44-35.
► Missouri, despite winning the turnover battle, lost time of possession in a big way and fell 26-11 at West Virginia.
► And lest we forget, on Thursday preseason SEC favorite and 10th-ranked Tennessee had to claw its way to overtime to beat Appalachian State at home.
Last season the SEC went 40-5 against opponents not in a Power Five league. This season it has started 3-2, and barely so.
Only one team outside the SEC, Houston, has defeated a team ranked the Amway Coaches Poll this week, and no conference escaped the opening weekend without a bad loss: Washington State fell to an FBS opponent for the second consecutive season (this time Eastern Washington), Northwestern lost at home to Western Michigan, Virginia got crushed by Richmond and — for the second time in four seasons — Iowa State lost to Northern Iowa.
Will the SEC end up as the best again in 2016? Maybe so. But at the beginning of the season, it doesn't have much to brag about.