Inside the numbers: Best SEC streaks, facts about season openers
With the beginning of the SEC season a week away, it’s time to look at some of the interesting SEC notes surrounding the opening games of the college football season.
Longest active win streak in season openers
The Gators have not lost a season opener since 1989 to Ole Miss. Interesting note about the 27-game win streak in season openers – all 27 wins have come in The Swamp. The last time Florida went on the road for its season opener was 1987 at Miami. The result? A 31-4 loss.
The Gators open the 2017 season against Michigan in Arlington, Texas. Will history repeat itself?
Here’s a look at the last time every SEC school lost its opener:
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Longest active losing streak in season openers
Vanderbilt: 5 games
Ten or 15 years ago, this would not have been much of a surprise. But considering the recent success of the Commodores program, it’s a little strange that you have to go back to 2011 to find the last time they won a season opener – 45-14 over Elon.
To be fair, three of the losses came against conference opponents (two vs South Carolina, one vs Ole Miss. And in four of the five losses, the final margin was four points or less.
This season Vanderbilt opens on the road at Middle Tennessee, a team that went 8-5 last season, but also a team the Commodores defeated, 47-24. It was the largest margin of victory of the season for the Commodores.
Most points in a season opener since 2000
76: Ole Miss vs. Tennessee-Martin (2015)
Chad Kelly’s first pass went for a touchdown. It was one of those days for the Rebels, who scored 73 the following week against Fresno State.
Florida, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri have each topped 60 in an opener this century.
Most rushing yards in a season opener
290: Bo Jackson, Auburn (1985 vs Southwestern Louisiana)
Jackson got his Heisman Trophy-winning season off to a great start, needing just 23 carries to gain his career high for yards in a game. At the time, it was the third-highest single-game rushing total in SEC history.
The last SEC player with a 200-yard rushing game in a season opener was Georgia’s Nick Chubb last year against North Carolina (222 yards).
Most passing yards in a season opener
511: Kenny Hill, Texas A&M (2014 at South Carolina)
This turned out to be a shocker in more ways than one. Hill, a sophomore, was making his first career start and it was coming on the road against a Top-10 opponent (South Carolina was ranked No. 9 in the AP preseason poll).
Hill went 44-for-60 and threw three touchdowns in a 52-28 Aggies win, snapping the Gamecocks’ 18-game win streak at home. The 511 yards set a school record that still stands.
Most TD passes in a season opener
7: Terry Dean, Florida (1994) and Tim Couch, Kentucky (1998)
Dean became the first player in SEC history to throw for seven touchdowns in a game in the 1994 season opener vs New Mexico State.
Couch matched Dean’s season-opening mark by throwing seven TDs against Louisville in 1998. It was the second time in his career Couch had thrown seven touchdowns in a game, having done so in 1997 against Indiana.
Most TD runs in a season opener
5: Shaun Alexander, Alabama (1998 vs BYU)
Alexander, who had a total of nine rushing TD over his first two seasons in Tuscaloosa, set a single-game school record in the 1998 opener, a record that was later tied by Santonio Beard in 2002 against Ole Miss.
Alexander went on to lead the SEC in TD runs in 1998 with 13.
Most receiving yards in a season opener
262: Alexander Wright, Auburn (1989 vs Pacific)
Wright caught just five passes in the 1989 season opener against Pacific. But four of the receptions went for touchdowns, which is also a single-game school record.
Wright averaged 52.6 yards per reception in that game, which remains an SEC record.