Final SEC Power Rankings: The Big 14

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Here at SDS, we like to call them as we see fit, not necessarily by win-loss record, but by the whole body of work.

There’s little doubt who wound up #1, but the real controversy is really who finished #2-6. I’m sure you’ll agree with all the rankings below:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (13-1, 7-1):

SEC Champions, National Champions

There’s no argument who finished #1, as Bama pounded their way to their third national championship in four years, becoming the first ever back-to-back BCS champions. This is what a dynasty looks like, and we may never see the task repeated again…except for maybe next season. The Tide will open up as the favorite once again in 2013. The Golden Age of Alabama football is here and now.

Ranked wins: at #14 LSU, #19 Michigan, #1 Notre Dame
Ranked Losses: #5 Texas A&M

2. Texas A&M Aggies (11-2, 6-2)

While Alabama finished as the ‘best’ team, Texas A&M finished as the hottest team. After the loss to LSU, the Aggies went on a scoring streak that few others around the country could touch. They whooped Auburn, Mississippi State, Alabama, Sam Houston State, Missouri and Oklahoma, outscoring them 277-128. Johnny Manziel and the Aggies have so much momentum heading into the 2013 season that they’re almost giddy. They had the most explosive offense, the most explosive player and the Coach of the Year in Kevin Sumlin. I’m pinning the Florida loss on Manziel’s inexperience in his first start, but there’s no excuse for the LSU loss. Watch out for the Aggies, 2013!

Ranked wins: at #1 Alabama, #11 Oklahoma
Ranked Losses: #9 Florida, #14 LSU

3. Georgia Bulldogs (12-2, 7-1):

SEC East Champions

Georgia is a top five team in the country, but they finished as the third best team in the SEC. The explosive offense really overshadowed the stellar defenses’ struggles against the run. Aaron Murray and Todd Gurley led the offensive firepower, while Jarvis Jones headlined an underachieving defense. Wins against Nebraska and Florida were overshadowed by the losses against South Carolina and Alabama. If not for five yards, Georgia would be the national champion, not Alabama.

Ranked wins: #9 Florida, #23 Vanderbilt, #16 Nebraska
Ranked Losses: at #8 South Carolina, #1 Alabama

4. South Carolina (11-2, 6-2)

Color me as impressed with how the Gamecocks finished without Marcus Lattimore in the backfield, again. Wins against top 25 Georgia, Clemson and Michigan were impressive, but the blowout loss to Florida was ugly due to turnovers in the first half. The game against LSU came down to the wire and could have finished either way. If you think USC is going away, you’re simply not thinking right. Steve Spurrier has this program pumping out 11 wins in back-to-back seasons.

Ranked wins: #23 Vanderbilt, #5 Georgia, at #11 Clemson, #18 Michigan
Ranked Losses: at #9 Florida, at #14 LSU

5. Florida Gators (11-2, 7-1)

At one point we were making the case for Florida as the top team in the SEC, and while they did manage to finish beating five ranked teams and have arguably the best resume in college football, the Sugar Bowl disaster marred a beautiful comeback story. Eleven wins and a Sugar Bowl berth are part of a fantastic turnaround, but Florida was exposed and never could catch up to the momentum against Louisville (Louisville!). Were the Gators worthy to be ranked #3 in the BCS before the Sugar Bowl? The team that beat South Carolina and LSU was not the same team that beat Louisiana-Lafayette and lost to Louisville. Holy Jekyll and Hyde. Florida must get the passing game fixed before 2013.

Ranked wins: at #5 Texas A&M, #14 LSU, #23 Vanderbilt, #8 South Carolina, at #10 Florida State
Ranked Losses: #5 Georgia, #21 Louisville

6. LSU Tigers (10-3, 6-2)

Never has a 10-win season been so frustrating for anyone as LSU. The Tigers had NFL talent all over the field on defense, but the offense was lacking and never could quite create an effective balance, namely in the passing game. The offensive line was banged up for the better part of the year, and Zach Mettenberger didn’t live up to the hype. Beating Texas A&M was the high point of the season, but losses to Alabama, Florida and Clemson all gutted the Tigers and their fans.

Ranked wins: #8 South Carolina, at #5 Texas A&M
Ranked Losses: #1 Alabama, #9 Florida, #11 Clemson

7. Vanderbilt Commodores (9-4, 4-4)

The job that James Franklin is doing in just his second year at Vanderbilt is simply amazing. The Commodores went to back-to-back bowl games for the first time in their history, won nine games for the first time since 1915 and own the SEC’s longest active winning streak. How’s that for Vandy? Close losses against South Carolina, Northwestern and Florida could have easily put this team over 10 wins. Now, let’s see if they can knock off one of the big boys next season.

Ranked wins: none
Ranked Losses: #8 South Carolina, at #17 Northwestern, at #5 Georgia, #9 Florida

8. Ole Miss Rebels (7-6, 3-5)

Ole Miss was one of the fun teams to watch play in 2012. Hugh Freeze worked wonders inheriting a 2-10 team and turning them around and winning seven games including the Compass Bowl. This team lost close fourth-quarter duals with Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and LSU, and we’re close to talking about a 10-win team. This program has a little ways to go on both sides before they reach double-digit wins, but they’re certainly off to a fantastic start.

Ranked wins: none
Ranked Losses: #19 Texas, at #1 Alabama, #5 Texas A&M, at #5 Georgia, #14 LSU, #23 Vanderbilt

9. Mississippi State (8-5, 4-4)

Mississippi State started 7-0 and looked strong, but losing five of their last six showed us that it had everything to do with the weak schedule. The Bulldogs regressed as the season went along, and Tyler Russell had his worst game against Northwestern, throwing four picks. This year was the Bulldogs’ best chance to make noise in the West with a veteran team, and it has everyone now wondering whether Dan Mullen has tapped out or maximized his position with MSU. Mullen is 1-19 against teams that have a .750 winning percentage or better.

Ranked wins: none
Ranked Losses: at #1 Alabama, #5 Texas A&M, at #14 LSU, #17 Northwestern

10. Arkansas Razorbacks (4-8, 2-6)

Arkansas was the 10th best team in the SEC despite losing more games than either Missouri or Tennessee. Why? Tyler Wilson and Cobi Hamilton had a shot to connect for multiple touchdowns every game and put up some points. I would argue that Arkansas would have beaten Louisiana-Monroe had Wilson been healthy. They played LSU tough to end the season on a high note. Wilson and Hamilton will leave their names in record books forever. I would also argue that Arkansas would have beaten Missouri and Tennessee had they played.

Ranked wins: none
Ranked Losses: #1 Alabama, at #5 Texas A&M, at #8 South Carolina, #14 LSU

11. Missouri Tigers (5-7, 2-6)

It was a rough go for the Tigers in their first season. From injuries to underperforming and underwhelming on offense, Missouri struggled in all its SEC games. But they did beat Tennessee and Kentucky to amass two wins in their first season. The Tigers’ defense wasn’t all that bad, but the injuries along the offensive line and the lack of depth ate this team alive to finish with only five wins.

Ranked wins: none
Ranked Losses: #5 Georgia, at #8 South Carolina, #1 Alabama, at #9 Florida, at #5 Texas A&M, #23 Vanderbilt

12. Tennessee Volunteers (5-7, 1-7)

Tennessee had a formidable offense led by the explosive arm of Tyler Bray and his two receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter, but the defense was just atrocious. In fact, it was the worst statistical defense in the history of Tennessee football. The Vols averaged 36.2 points per game but gave up an average of 35.7 points per game. That’s why Derek Dooley is gone, among plenty of other reasons.

Ranked wins: none
Ranked Losses: #9 Florida, at #5 Georgia, #1 Alabama, at #8 South Carolina, #23 Vanderbilt

13. Auburn Tigers (3-9, 0-8)

Auburn wasn’t the worst team in the SEC in 2012, but they weren’t far in front of Kentucky. The Tigers finished 13th in scoring offense and 14th in rushing defense – two statistics you can’t have and be successful. Blowout losses to TAMU, Georgia and Alabama were embarrassing, but I still think had they would have beaten Kentucky.

Ranked wins: none
Ranked Losses: #11 Clemson, #14 LSU, #23 Vanderbilt, #5 Texas A&M, #5 Georgia, at #1 Alabama

14. Kentucky Wildcats (2-10, 0-8)

Ironically, Kentucky smashed what looked to be a BCS team in Kent State before NIU beat them. The Wildcats struggled all season and only nabbed two wins and going 0-8 in conference play. However, with the right leadership, the Wildcats could win seven or eight games per year.

Ranked wins: none
Ranked Losses: at #13 Louisville, at #9 Florida, #8 South Carolina, #5 Georgia, #23 Vanderbilt

*Note: Rankings are based off final AP Poll

Photo Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

COMMENTS

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  • Vanderbilt needs to be added as a ranked win for South Carolina, Georgia & Florida. Watch out for the Gamecocks next year! GO COCKS!!

  • Vanderbilt’s next step will be beating one of those top 6 teams ahead of them. Can they do it? Franklin seems sincere in building the program. I’ll be honest – Florida didn’t play well against them at all and could have easily lost if not for Driskel’s running ability.

    Such high hopes for Florida were darkened by the UL loss. Boys forgot to get off the bus.

  • Georgia was only 5 yards away from being #1 in the SEC and the nation. They will be next season!

  • Wow…gonna give Johnny Nickname and A&M the number two spot? UGA was five yards from being the National Champ…and beat more ranked opponents. I would have liked to see them play but damn… C’mon Man!