ATLANTA (AP) — Blake Sims was good enough in his first start at quarterback for Alabama, getting plenty of help from Amari Cooper, T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry, and the second-ranked Crimson Tide held off West Virginia 33-23 Saturday. Sims was 24-for-33 for 250 yards and added 42 running, playing every meaningful series. The fifth-year senior beat out Florida State transfer Jake Coker for the start. Tide coach Nick Saban had suggested both quarterbacks would play, but Coker only came in to take a knee at the end. Yeldon (126 yards rushing and two touchdowns), Henry (113 yards rushing and a score) and Cooper (12 catches for 130 yards) provided plenty of support. Alabama needed all the offense it could get because West Virginia found plenty of soft spots in the Tide's D. The Mountaineers' up-tempo spread gave Clint Trickett his pick of open receivers, and he took advantage with 365 yards passing.
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Jeremy Johnson passed for 243 yards and two touchdowns in the first half and Nick Marshall returned from suspension with a 19-yard scoring run to lift No. 6 Auburn to a 45-21 opening victory over Arkansas on Saturday. The Tigers scored the final 24 points after the Razorbacks managed to force a halftime deadlock. The game was delayed 1 hour, 28 minutes due to lightning in the area during the fourth quarter. Marshall, who led Auburn to the SEC title last season and national championship game, started the second half after serving his punishment for getting ticketed in July for possession of a small amount of marijuana. Junior college transfer D'haquille Williams supplied the most electrifying performance with nine catches for 154 yards in his debut. Cameron Artis-Payne rushed for a career-high 177 yards. Jermaine Whitehead returned an interception 33 yards for a touchdown.