ATHENS — Quinn Ewers played the game of his life at Alabama, and that’s exactly what it took for Texas to take down the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa on Saturday.
The Longhorns (2-0) moved up to No. 4 in the national rankings while Alabama (1-1) dropped down to No. 10 in the aftermath of the most viewed ESPN Saturday college football game since 2014.
The Texas win left the SEC rattled, its four-year streak of CFP Championships seemingly suddenly vulnerable, as only an untested Georgia remains unbeaten among the league’s preseason favorites.
The Tide helped hand the Longhorns momentum on Saturday night with two interceptions that translated into 10 points — the difference in a 34-24 game.
Texas, meanwhile, pierced Kevin Steele’s Alabama defense with smart, aggressive play calling and disciplined execution,
Ewers struck for six explosive passes of more than 20 yards, most notably deep balls of 44 yards to Xavier Worthy and 39 yards to Adonai Mitchell. This, after completing only 22 percent of his downfield passes of more than 20 yards last season and going 0-for-7 in the season-opening game, per ESPN analyst Greg McElroy.
Coach Steve Sarkisian’s quick thinking and fast-paced offense stood in contrast to new Tide offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, who appeared predictable and overmatched.
Jalen Milroe held the ball at times, an alarm failing to go off for him when receivers were covered and the Texas rush was closing in.
There will be teaching points — from Saban to Rees, and Rees to Milroe — but those lessons must be learned quickly for Alabama to rise back to the top of the SEC.
For now, the untested 2023 Georgia football program is back on top, Kirby Smart having earned the benefit of the doubt after his masterful coaching performances in 2021 and 2022.
Here’s a look at how the SEC rankings shake out through two weeks:
1. Georgia: The Bulldogs get to sink their teeth into SEC competition this week
2. Alabama: The Tide’s talent jumps off the field, but it’s up to the coaches to direct it properly
3. LSU: Bayou Bengals look for third-straight win in Starkville
4. Ole Miss: Rebels need to be wary of overlooking Georgia Tech on Saturday
5. Auburn: Tigers escaped Cal with underrated win, can heal with FCS coming to Jordan-Hare Saturday
6. Tennessee: Vols haven’t won at Florida since 2003, a string of 9-straight rivalry road losses
7. Texas A&M: Now that Aggies have found their offense, the defense cannot disappoint again
8. Arkansas: Things about to get rough: BYU comes to town followed by road trips to LSU, A&M.
9. Kentucky: Wildcats can hit the snooze button, Akron up next followed by Vandy.
10. Mississippi State: Bullies look to ride momentum of OT win over Arizona into LSU matchup
11. Florida: Billy Napier’s back is against the wall, Gators need to perform against Tennessee
12. Missouri: Tigers got worn out by Kansas State last year, 40-12.
13. South Carolina: Gamecocks need some big-play magic to stay on the field with Georgia.
14. Vanderbilt: Commodores get road trip to beatable UNLV in Las Vegas.