Like any good party, the SEC regular season just didn’t want to end. But it did, eventually, and here we are, left with a league full of parity after the first couple of powers. We’ll do our best to break down the middle of the pack in the final regular season edition of our SEC power rankings.
14. Arkansas (2-10, lost to Missouri 38-0)
There may have been a week in there where we bumped the Razorbacks to No. 13, but they were solidly the worst team in the SEC all season, and it generally wasn’t even very close.
13. Mississippi (5-7, lost to Mississippi State 35-3)
From the massive scrum on a play that didn’t even count to an embarrassingly bad effort in the season’s rivalry game, Ole Miss earned its way toward the bottom of our rankings. In the end, even the Jordan Ta’amu show couldn’t salvage this defenseless season.
12. Tennessee (5-7, lost to Vanderbilt 38-13)
This was an embarrassing end for Tennessee, which once again ended up looking a long way from being even a decent SEC team. How on earth did the Vols beat Kentucky and Auburn?
11. Vanderbilt (6-6, beat Tennessee 38-13)
Give credit where credit is due to Derek Mason for taking Vanderbilt to a bowl and owning the state rivalry with Tennessee again. That said, Vandy won its three conference games against the only three teams ranked below it in these rankings. Their other wins were against an FCS team, Nevada, and Middle Tennessee State. Still, that adds up to six, so a bowl game it is.
10. South Carolina (6-5, lost to Clemson 56-35)
There’s no shame in losing to Clemson by three scores, and South Carolina should have no trouble with Akron next week for its seventh win. It’s a disappointing year for Carolina, though, as they fell a few notches down the SEC ladder.
9. Auburn (7-5, lost to Alabama 52-21)
Just another week in the life of the Auburn Tigers, the most disappointing team in the SEC. Auburn’s offense struggled all season long, and while their defense was probably better than it seems, this was a team that just never really lived up to its preseason hype.
8. Missouri (8-4, beat Arkansas 38-0)
Missouri finished with four consecutive wins and are one of the hottest teams in the league heading into postseason play. That said, it’s hard to give too much credit to a team that lost to South Carolina and dropped an 11-point halftime lead to Kentucky because it earned no first downs in the second half. Mizzou is good, but Mizzou is not great.
7. Mississippi State (8-4, beat Mississippi 35-3)
Mississippi State struggled early but finished strong, beating the two worst teams in the league by a combined 87-9 count to finish the season. State feels like it could be higher, but we try to remember that this is the team that scored a total of 16 points in its four losses. Granted, those losses came to Alabama, LSU, Florida, and Kentucky, but it’s hard to be among the SEC’s big dogs when you just can’t score, and too many times this season, State couldn’t.
6. Texas A&M (8-4, beat LSU 74-72)
Perhaps the most accurate summary of this Texas A&M team is that it finished ahead of where people expected them to be in the first year with Jimbo Fisher. There were a few games that got away from the Aggies — most notably the loss to Auburn — but at the same time, this was a team that played Clemson close, that beat LSU and Kentucky in overtime, and generally earned every break it got.
5. Kentucky (9-3, beat Louisville 56-10)
Kentucky is perhaps the most difficult team to rank. Yes, they are ahead of an A&M team that beat them. For that matter, the Wildcats got thumped in Knoxville by Tennessee two weeks ago. But this is a team that handled Florida and Mississippi State and won in impressive fashion at Missouri.
4. Florida (9-3, beat Florida State 41-14)
The beatdown of Florida State was an excellent capstone to a superb first season for Dan Mullen. Yes, the Gators did take home losses to Kentucky and Missouri, but they beat LSU and Mississippi State and generally, like A&M, tended to look a year ahead of schedule.
3. LSU (9-3, lost to Texas A&M 74-72)
Sure, we could drop LSU to fifth or sixth, but they’re still as good as anybody who isn’t Alabama or Georgia. That seven-overtime loss was kind of a perfect storm, and LSU’s other losses to Alabama and Florida aren’t exactly embarrassing. Let’s not forget they’re the only team to handle Georgia, and they handled them easily.
2. Georgia (11-1, beat Georgia Tech 45-21)
The Georgia Tech triple option gave the Bulldogs no trouble at all. Georgia’s offense has been rounding into form over the last few weeks, and if quarterback Jake Fromm continues to throw the ball this well, they might shock the world next week.
1. Alabama (12-0, beat Auburn 52-21)
The question isn’t if teams gain a few yards or score a few points against Alabama, it’s can anybody slow down this offensive juggernaut. The Crimson Tide were a great ground-and-pound team that just added a complete other dimension in quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, and college football is still trying to catch up.