Week 9 Power Rankings: Bama, Georgia, and then who?
The SEC has three tiers in 2017. There’s the top two, the five or so below them, and the cluster at the bottom.
At this point, it’s a question of whether a couple of teams are second or third tier, and who tops the second tier. Every week brings surprises on that front. We’re here to help you process those changes — with our post-Week 9 power rankings.
14. Ole Miss (3-5, lost to Arkansas 38-37)
Shea Patterson is gone. All his replacement, Jordan Ta’amu, did was pass for 368 yards and rush for 76 more. But they lost anyway. The Rebels are fascinating to watch, but then so is a house fire, if it’s not your house that’s burning up. The saddest thing for the Ole Miss fan base is that they’re never getting closure. The NCAA black cloud is still hanging overhead, the presumed future coaching search must occur, and the rest of the West continues to do what it does.
13. Missouri (3-5, defeated UConn 52-12)
Hopefully, the Tigers enjoy their moment of prosperity. That said, while we’ve not exactly been bullish on their late-season chances, Missouri’s concluding schedule is Florida and UT at home, and Vandy and Arkansas on the road. They could well go 0-4, but a couple of wins are out there for the taking in this group. If not, we know Mizzou really deserved the league’s basement in 2017.
12. Florida (3-4, lost to Georgia 42-7)
Florida is lucky to not be 1-6. There’s bad offense, and then there’s truly offensive offense. How do you destroy a young QB? Put him into a game situation where he ends up with 30 yards passing for the game. Florida’s offense and the Missouri defense will be fascinating. How can Florida not score, and yet, how can they score?
11. Tennessee (3-5, lost to Kentucky 29-26)
UT has to get some credit for continuing to fight in the face of adversity. Unfortunately, in the SEC there are precious few moral victories to be claimed. And precious few regular victories for Butch Jones, whose favorite moving company is probably getting busy about now.
10. Vanderbilt (3-5, lost to South Carolina 34-27)
Vandy finally got a matchup that wasn’t impossible, and QB Kyle Shurmur responded with a strong game, passing for 333 yards. Unfortunately, the once formidable Vandy defense didn’t do a very good job on Carolina, and gave up just enough yardage and points to doom the Dores. Vandy has to get Western Kentucky next week to feel good about bowl possibilities.
9. Arkansas (3-5, defeated Ole Miss 38-37)
Last week, we said that this Arkansas team lacked “reasons for optimism.” They’re still not very good, they’re still not going to end up bowl eligible, but if coming back from a 31-7 deficit to win isn’t a reason for optimism, then nothing else they do will be.
8. South Carolina (6-2, defeated Vandy 34-27)
Carolina being bowl eligible at this point after losing to Kentucky and losing Deebo Samuel is really right there with LSU rebounding after the Troy loss for the resurrection story of 2017. Florida certainly doesn’t look like a daunting late matchup anymore.
7. Kentucky (6-2, defeated Tennessee 29-26)
If Sunday brings a “pretty” column to the newspaper beside the wins and losses, the Wildcats are falling to 14th. This team is chronically incapable of making anything look easy or pretty. But they did what they had to do, and it was just enough to pull out a sixth win, a third SEC win, and to earn the No. 7 spot in our power rankings.
6. Texas A&M (5-3, lost to Mississippi State 35-14)
A&M has been the hardest team in the SEC to figure out. Not that they’re an offensive juggernaut, but laying a giant egg at home wasn’t a terribly likely outcome. The defense is good, but they can’t do it all by themselves.
5. Mississippi State (6-2, defeated Texas A&M 35-14)
State is in the grouping of four West teams — actually three with A&M’s loss to State –that are all very decent, but are a noticeable level below Alabama and Georgia. There’s no shame in being a level behind those two, but at this point, the two biggest stories of the rest of the regular season are who wins the race for second in the West, and can anybody challenge Georgia or Alabama except, you know, Georgia or Alabama.
4. LSU (6-2, off this week)
Of the group of three (see comments on the second place race above), LSU is the team with the biggest upside. The passing game is still very much a work in progress, but if they can have Derrius Guice playing like he did last week, they’re the team that probably has the best opportunity to completely screw things up by beating Alabama. Not saying that happens, but saying that the LSU team from last week could, conceivably, if the stars lined up right, make that game very interesting.
3. Auburn (6-2, off this week)
If LSU is the team with the highest ceiling of the second-place grouping, Auburn is the team that feels least likely to screw things up. They’re mildly underachieving at 6-2, while LSU and State really have worked out better than most people would have expected.
2. Georgia (8-0, defeated Florida 42-7)
This was complete and utter domination. Georgia is good enough that, like Alabama, they can choose how they want to discombobulate teams. The running game is among the best in the nation and the passing game — if it’s ever actually needed — looks like it could carry the day. Defensively, Jedi Kirby is showing all the tricks he learned from Jedi Master Saban. This should be the best SEC title game since … well, maybe since ever.
1.Alabama (8-0, off this week)
Georgia made it tempting to get all crazy and flip-flop the league’s two big dogs. But until Georgia proves it on the field, we’ve got to assume that Alabama is better. Thing is, the perceived margin between the two is dropping and dropping. Can we just go on and play the SEC title game? It doesn’t look like the league’s two best teams are going to find legitimate competition anywhere else.