- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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Checking out some facts, figures and notes from around the SEC heading into the first weekend of the season:
Since 1992, the SEC has won 76.5 percent of its nonconference games (including bowls). The SEC is 735-225-2 since 1992, including 88-56 in bowl games and 647-169-2 in regular-season games. Since 1933, the current list of SEC schools is .734 (2473-865-91) in non-SEC games.
Since 2006, the SEC is 79-51 against the five other BCS automatic-qualifying conferences. The SEC’s best season against the five was last season, as the league posted a 14-5 mark against them. The last time the SEC had a losing record against a conference in a given year was in 2007, when the SEC was 1-2 vs. the Big East and 0-1 vs. the Pac-10 (now Pac-12).
During the past 10 opening weekends, SEC teams are 85-23 against nonconference foes. During that span, SEC teams have lost just one opening weekend game twice (2007 and 2009), two games four times (2004, 2008, 2010 and 2011), three games three times (2003, 2005 and 2006) and four games once (2002).
Since 2004, the SEC has had 28.3 percent of its intra-conference games decided by five points or less, the third lowest percentage of all FBS conferences. The ACC (31.3 percent) has the highest percentage, and the Sun Belt follows (28.9 percent).
LSU has won 37 straight nonconference regular-season games, which is the longest such streak in nation. The streak began on Sept. 7, 2002 with 35-10 win against The Citadel. Alabama has the longest streak of consecutive appearances in the AP Top 25, at 66 straight weeks. Florida has won its past 22 straight season openers -- the longest active streak in the SEC and second in the nation (26 by Nebraska). LSU has the longest home win streak in the nation, at 17 games. Three SEC teams (Alabama-18, LSU-18 and Arkansas-12) have streaks of consecutive weeks in the AP Top 10.
Junior running back Marcus Lattimore’s 29-yard touchdown run in the first quarter moved him into sole possession of third place in rushing touchdowns in South Carolina history. After his 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, he now has 29 career rushing touchdowns, two short of the school record of 31 set by George Rogers (1977-80) and Harold Green (1986-89). He also now has 32 career touchdowns, one short of the school record of 33 that both Rogers and Green hold as well.
Steve Spurrier is 22-1 all-time in season openers as a collegiate head coach. His only season-opening loss, was a 27-21 loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia on Sept. 2, 1989 while the head coach at Duke University.
Alabama allowed 12 touchdowns last season in 158 possessions, which is the lowest touchdown percentage (7.6) of any team in the past eight seasons. Three of the 12 touchdowns were scored when the defense was not on the field.
Alabama allowed only 22 rushes of 10 yards or longer (5.7 percent) last season, the fewest such rushes and the lowest percentage allowed in FBS.
AJ McCarron has not thrown an interception on a pass that traveled 20 yards or more in the air in 51 career attempts. Denard Robinson, on the other hand, has 12 interceptions on these throws in 107 attempts (11.2 percent). He also completed 47.9 percent of his passes thrown 15 yards or longer, a higher completion percentage than Aaron Murray, Tyler Wilson and Connor Shaw.
LSU’s opponents completed 10 of 61 throws of 20-plus yards last season with one more reception (10) than interceptions (nine). Non-SEC opponents were 1 of 11 on these passes last season.
Aaron Murray has thrown 83 consecutive red-zone passes without an interception dating to Week 5 of 2010. During that span, Murray has 28 red zone passing touchdowns and is averaging a touchdown every 2.9 passes.
Murray completed 28.8 percent of his passes that traveled 20-plus yards downfield last season after completing 48.4 percent of passes the same distance in 2010.
During the Bulldogs’ 10-game winning streak, Georgia surrendered 133 points (13.3/game); allowed just 12 touchdowns; and UGA’s opponents reached the red zone only 16 times and that resulted in 73 points.
Arkansas’ Dennis Johnson is fifth in SEC career kickoff return yards with 2,475. He needs two more yards to advance to fourth, 24 to move into third and 189 to move into second.
Arkansas is the only school in the SEC to return a quarterback (Tyler Wilson) with a 3,000-yard passing season in his career and a running back (Knile Davis) with a 1,000-yard rushing season as a collegian. Wilson passed for 3,638 yards in 2011 and Davis rushed for 1,322 yards in 2010.
Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for a career-high 386 yards and four touchdowns against Auburn last season. Boyd did most of his damage on throws that traveled 10 yards or fewer. Passes of this length accounted for 65.3 percent of his passing yards and all four touchdowns.
Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier attempted just 12 passes as a freshman. Opponents sent five or more pass rushers on three of those passing attempts, with two resulting in interceptions.
Auburn is 5-3 all-time in games at the Georgia Dome, and 8-6-1 all-time in all games in domes. The 2012 season opener will be Auburn’s second ever in a domed stadium. The Tigers's first road game in 2001 was at Syracuse’s Carrier Dome.
Tennessee is 85-24-6 (.765) in season openers dating back to 1891. In the last 28 seasons, Tennessee is 23-3-2 (.857) in season openers. Of those 28 games, 13 were played against teams currently in a BCS conference, and UT is 8-3-2 (.692) in those games. The Vols are also 11-7 all-time in games played on Friday, with the most recent game being a 27-14 loss to Clemson on Friday, Jan. 2, 2004 in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
A Tennessee win would snap a six-game losing streak in Atlanta and the Georgia Dome dating back to 2001 (2009 vs. Va. Tech, Chickfil-A Bowl; 2007 vs. LSU, SEC Champ. Game; 2004 vs. Auburn, SEC Champ. Game; 2003 vs. Clemson, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl; 2002 vs. Maryland, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl; 2001 vs. LSU, SEC Champ. Game).
Ole Miss’ last three head coaches have been victorious in their first game on the Rebel sideline. Of those that have coached since joining the SEC in 1933, the Rebels are 9-4 in their debut.
Ole Miss is the first school in SEC history to play regular-season home games in the same season against Texas and Texas A&M. LSU played both schools in the 1948 regular season, but opened the year at Texas and two weeks later played Texas A&M in Baton Rouge.
Florida made its 21st straight bowl appearance, which ranks first in the SEC and second nationally. It was also Florida’s 18th January Bowl game since 1993, the highest total in the country, and was the team’s ninth appearance in the Gator Bowl, which was played for the 67th time. Florida is now 20-19 all-time in bowls.
Florida had four different players with a rush or reception of 60 or more yards last season. The Gators finished the season tied for the national lead alongside Baylor and Nevada, each with three plays of 80 yards or more. The Gators had eight total plays from scrimmage of 60 or more yards, tied with Houston for the fourth-most in the country.
Missouri's 48 wins since 2007 ranks as ninth-most in the nation (among BCS automatic qualifying conferences). Coach Gary Pinkel enters the 2012 season ranked as the eighth-winningest active coach in the NCAA FBS ranks, with his 158 career wins (158-91-3 overall).
Last year, Mizzou outscored opponents 143-59 in the fourth quarter, and twice rallied from double-digit fourth-quarter deficits to post wins.
This is the fifth consecutive season Kentucky has started the year away from Commonwealth Stadium, holding a 4-0 mark in those contests. The Wildcats have won five consecutive season openers, which is the longest streak since eight in a row from 1987-94.
Five of the last seven meetings between Kentucky and Louisville have been decided by seven points or less. Kentucky won three of those games by an average of 5.6 points per game.
Mississippi State has won each of their three season openers under head coach Dan Mullen by a combined score of 153-31.
Johnthan Banks enters his final season at Mississippi State ranked tied for second on the school’s all-time career interceptions list with 12. He needs four interceptions to tie Walt Harris for the school mark, and eight to tie the Southeastern Conference career record of 20 (set twice).
Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy finished with 48 rushingyards, moving him into seventh place (2,050) for career rushing yards in school history.
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