The best thing about a college football game on Aug. 24 is that we have a good excuse to have SEC Power Rankings earlier than ever before. The criteria is always that we rank the teams based on what we’ve actually seen on the field … but obviously, in this case, that’s not going to help for 13 of the 14 SEC teams.

So yes, we’re leaning a little on last year, a little on what we expect … and a little on just surviving to week one when the SEC schedule can direct the ebb and flow of each team. But for now …

14. Arkansas

The league’s worst team from last season, and there’s reason to expect they’ll be the worst this season. At this point, they’re kind of in lock-down on 14th place until we see reason to change.

13. Ole Miss

Not unlike the Razorbacks, the Rebels will be in a massive competitive disadvantage in the nation’s toughest division. This spot is a little more fluid than 14th, but for now, we’ll stick Ole Miss here.

12. Vanderbilt

The Commodores have some potential playmakers, but their defense had some losses, and the unsettled QB situation will push them to the bottom of the East.

11. South Carolina

Now, are we saying that they’re the 11th-best team in the SEC? Not exactly. They’re probably more like the 8th-best team in the SEC, but with most difficult schedule. If we were truly going off past performance, they’re definitely ahead of Tennessee. If we were truly going off most talent, they might be ahead of Kentucky. But we’re going off a little of everything, and that includes schedule. It’s brutal.

10. Tennessee

On the way up, but it’s not entirely clear how far up the Vols have moved. Still, after a couple years of UT being in the No. 13 or 14 range of the power rankings, we’re tentatively ready for them to move back toward the middle of the league.

9. Mississippi State

State’s tough defense sustained some significant personnel losses, and in the unforgiving jungle of the SEC West, that’ll put the Bulldogs in the lower half of the league. This is subject to change, of course, once we find out exactly who the NCAA is suspending.

8. Auburn

The talent is there to be top 5 in the league, possibly top 3 if Bo Nix is as legit as Gus Malzahn obviously thinks he is. At the same time, they’re a bad loss next week to Oregon away from the Malzahn era being subject to potential crashing and burning. They could end up No. 3 or No. 11 and neither would be too shocking.

7. Kentucky

No, this isn’t last year’s Kentucky team, and there is the possibility that a regression to “normal” Kentucky football would drop the Wildcats to the 10th or 11th range. But given their success in the East over the past 3 years, there’s really not a ton of reason to assume that Kentucky isn’t legitimate, even if they aren’t a threat to crack the league’s top couple of teams.

6. Florida (1-0, beat Miami 24-20)

Yes, this is a little low. There were a couple of positive signs (impressive pass rush, big plays from receivers) in the Week 0 win over the Hurricanes. That said, they had some insanely foolish penalties, Feleipe Franks continues to look like an NFL quarterback on one play and a middle-schooler on the next, and the running game was missing in action. Florida can’t thrive in the SEC that way, although they certainly did show the talent to end up second in the East.

5. Missouri

No, Missouri wasn’t even ranked in the AP Top 25 (and Florida obviously was), but between a weak schedule, consistently improving talent, and the big gap between Georgia and the rest of the East, the Tigers get the opening nod as the No. 2 team in the East. Can they hold it?

4. Texas A&M

We might be a little high on A&M, but after the solid work from Jimbo Fisher last year, the Aggies could well end up 2nd in the West. This spot is definitely not one we’re etching in stone, especially against that schedule, but A&M feels like a team in the top 1/3 of the league.

3. LSU

Speaking of teams that generally overperformed last season and have given us no real reason to doubt them moving toward 2019, here’s another one. In terms of talent, the Tigers are closer than anyone to Alabama and Georgia.

2. Georgia

Florida did absolutely nothing Saturday night against Miami to suggest that it will make a move on the driver’s seat in the East.


They’re No. 1 until somebody else shows us that they aren’t.