SEC Power Rankings after Week 9
A week of competitive-looking SEC matchups yielded a week of fairly competitive games, at least for the most part. The SEC East comes down to Georgia and Kentucky, just like everybody (???) expected. The SEC West’s big boys had the week off, but as we say goodbye to October, the SEC race is starting to clear up.
As always, we’re ranking everyone based on what we’ve seen, not what we necessarily think we will see moving ahead. After nine weeks of SEC football, here’s where they stand:
14. Arkansas (2-7, lost to Vanderbilt, 45-31)
Arkansas’ offense put together a reasonably solid performance Saturday against Vanderbilt, but the defense just mailed it in when it counted. It’s been a tough season for these kids on the Razorbacks defense.
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13. Tennessee (3-5, lost to South Carolina, 27-24)
This really wasn’t a bad performance for Tennessee, but it’s hard to move them up in a week bowl eligibility likely drifted away from them. November has been kind to the Vols in the past, but this isn’t a team that resembled Tennessee groups from the past.
12. Mississippi (5-3, off this week)
If Ole Miss wants to make any kind of move up the rankings, next week’s home game against South Carolina is something near a must-win. Otherwise, the complete lack of a defense is still going to keep them from achieving much down the stretch.
11. Auburn (5-3, off this week)
Yes, we dropped Auburn a spot during their off week, but it really wasn’t their fault. We just watched Vanderbilt catch our eye by doing some positive things, and that impacted the pecking order.
10. Vanderbilt (4-5, beat Arkansas 45-31)
Ke’Shawn Vaughn is pretty much what Vanderbilt has been missing all season. This was only the second time he’s gotten more than 11 carries in a game, and it’s worth noting that he has 146 and 172 yards in those two games. If he’s going to run like that, Vandy could pick up a couple more wins.
9. South Carolina (4-3, beat Tennessee 27-24)
It wasn’t always the most exotic of victories for a South Carolina team that trailed Tennessee by 12 points with 25 minutes to play. But the Gamecocks’ ground game did a lot of dirty work to help keep Carolina in the bowl picture moving forward.
8. Missouri (4-4, lost to Kentucky 15-14)
Looking for a possible sign that the Mizzou offense, with all of the Drew Lock bells and whistles, might be fool’s gold? How about ZERO first downs in the second half of this game? This is the kind of game that teams steal from Kentucky in most years, but the Tigers held this one in the palm of their hands until Kentucky just took it away with some late-game dramatics.
7. Texas A&M (5-3, lost to Mississippi State 28-13)
This was the game where Texas A&M’s lack of experience seemed to catch up with them. Kellen Mond had some tough sledding, and the Aggies’ ground game never got untracked. Meanwhile, they made Nick Fitzgerald look like a capable pocket passer. Not good.
6. Mississippi State (5-3, beat Texas A&M 28-13)
As usual, the Mississippi State defense played remarkably well, and Joe Moorhead found enough pass plays for Nick Fitzgerald to make it all work out. This was what people who loved MSU in the preseason were thinking — that the defense was great and the ground attack was formidable. If the passing game works, it gets interesting in a hurry for the Bulldogs. All of that was on full display Saturday in the big win.
5. Florida (6-2, lost to Georgia 36-17)
Florida and Georgia put up almost identical rushing numbers (4.6 yards per carry for each). The difference was that Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm rebounded off a tough game against LSU and looked sharp, and Florida QB Feleipe Franks looked more than a little lost. Florida couldn’t go minus-3 in turnovers and hope to win this game.
4. Kentucky (7-1, beat Missouri 15-14)
The thing about winning ugly is that the ugly tends to be forgotten and the winning remains. Yes, Kentucky’s last gasp win felt like a fluke — but the Wildcats actually outgained Mizzou by 136 yards, and didn’t allow a single Tiger first down in the second half. There’s still plenty of football left, but right now, it’s Kentucky vs. LSU in the battle for the biggest (positive) surprise in the SEC.
3. Georgia (7-1, beat Florida 36-17)
Georgia’s defense looked positively stingy and the offense did what it needed to do in both the running game and the passing game. The Bulldogs have to feel good about surviving the October gauntlet and now having only Kentucky standing between them and another SEC Championship Game appearance.
2. LSU (7-1, off this week)
Georgia looked so good Saturday that there was temptation to have them leapfrog over LSU on its bye week. But for now, we’ll leave the Tigers here, knowing they’ve got as good of a shot as anybody of knocking off Alabama. They get that chance Saturday night in Baton Rouge.
1. Alabama (8-0, off this week)
The caveat to the above is that even LSU’s shot isn’t so good. But if there’s a perfect storm game that goes against Alabama short of the College Football Playoffs, this is possibly it. A game at LSU — especially at night in Death Valley — is always scary.