SEC Power Rankings, Week 3
Maybe, just maybe, the SEC got a little bit clearer in Week 3. LSU surprised for the second time in three weeks, Vanderbilt looked a little better than most people thought and Missouri looked a little worse. Arkansas wouldn’t be a top-tier team in the Sun Belt, and Alabama will do terrible things to even decent teams this year.
Again, as is tradition to our SEC power rankings, be warned that we’re ranking teams based off what we’ve seen so far, not what we expect to see or believe we’ll end up seeing. Here’s our Week 3 power rankings:
14. Arkansas (1-2, lost to North Texas, 44-17).
What do you say about a team that lost to a Sun Belt team at home by 27 points? Well, you definitely say that they’re the worst team in the SEC, and it’s not very close. North Texas is pretty good, but Arkansas is most definitely not.
13. Tennessee (2-1, beat UTEP 24-0).
This feels a little mean because Tennessee both showed signs of an offensive identity based around a running game and played excellent defense. But is anybody sure they can do either or both against decent competition? Until then, they’re staying pretty low.
12. Mississippi (2-1, lost to Alabama 62-7).
It’s not that they lost to Alabama. It’s that they’re really and truly horrible defensively. Florida was here last week and there was reason to think that Florida is actually getting better. Until the Rebels play any actual defense against a reasonably competent team, how good can they be?
11. Florida (2-1, beat Colorado State 48-10).
The road back for the Gators after losing at home to Kentucky began with a healthy dose of the ground game as a way to get superior athletes on the perimeter of opposing defenses. If the Gators can do this, they can still finish in the upper half of the SEC East. If not, it’ll be pretty brutal.
10. South Carolina (1-1, game cancelled).
South Carolina didn’t play and moved up a spot, in part because, as was noted last week, they’re probably better than the team that was stomped by Georgia. They also moved up because the SEC East looks wildly uncertain, and USC could still end up second in the division.
9. Vanderbilt (2-1, lost to Notre Dame 22-17).
Yes, Vanderbilt moved up a spot after losing. They outgained Notre Dame by 40 yards in South Bend, and if not for some untimely turnovers, could have pulled the upset. If it can avoid beating themselves, Vandy is a decent team.
8. Missouri (3-0, beat Purdue 40-37).
There was some temptation to actually jump Vandy over Mizzou despite the fact that Vandy lost and Mizzou won. Missouri won a game while making Purdue quarterback David Blough look like Tom Brady. Yes, it was a win on the road, but it’s not a formula that will work very well in the SEC.
7. Kentucky (3-0, beat Murray State 48-10).
Kentucky did nothing to make themselves look better or worse. It was a fairly vanilla game that proved little. Kentucky’s offense can click well, but can also fall behind the chains and bog down with a penalty or negative play. The defense has looked good, but Mississippi State this week is a different kind of test than what they’ve played so far.
6. Auburn (2-1, lost to LSU 22-21).
You can argue that the Tigers will be fine — they did lose this game last year and still managed to have enough gas in the tank to knock off Georgia and Alabama, both ranked No. 1 in the country at the time. At the same time, Auburn doesn’t feel as solid as last year’s team. The passing game is still hit-and-miss and the ground game lacks the explosiveness of past seasons. Auburn could easily be 1-2 right now.
5. Mississippi State (3-0, beat Louisiana 56-10).
Mississippi State has been near-dominant in every game it has played. The Bulldog also really haven’t played anybody yet. Kentucky could be a statement game this week, or could expose them as a step behind the upper echelon of the SEC West.
4. Texas A&M (2-1, beat UL-Monroe 48-10).
Texas A&M did nothing in this game to help or hurt its chances in the SEC West. They figure to be a notch below Alabama, but it’ll be an interesting game Saturday in Tuscaloosa to assess how they might stack up against LSU or Auburn. They looked up for that challenge in their near-upset of No. 2 Clemson two weeks ago, but they’ll probably move up a few steps or back a few next week.
3. LSU (3-0, beat Auburn 22-21).
LSU doesn’t look like a great football team. Their offense is sloppy, passing for a sub-50 percent completion rate, and the ground game was sluggish. They play defense, they don’t beat themselves, and they’re developing a knack for being that team that just grabs games late and doesn’t let go.
2. Georgia (3-0, beat Middle Tennessee 49-7).
Again, nothing new to see here. Georgia looks so much smoother than LSU, it would be hard not to rank them above the Tigers. On the other hand, they haven’t seen much (any?) adversity, so if the two teams played today, LSU might win. (They play for real at LSU on Oct. 13.) Still, until Georgia stumbles, they can stay here.
1. Alabama (3-0, beat Mississippi 62-7).
It feels like Steve Spurrier started coaching Alabama. That’s what happens with the opened-up offense. It’s just flat unfair. At least in the past, a team like Mississippi State could slow the run and keep a game close with Alabama. Now, they’ll just bomb a decent team into submission. Until somebody proves they can compete with Alabama, it’s hard to believe anybody can.