Conference Power Rankings: SEC

December, 27, 2011
12/27/11
9:15
AM ET
As we draw nearer to conference season, here's my latest ranking of the SEC teams:

1. Kentucky: The Wildcats didn’t have to deal with tough competition this past week, but they didn’t take a step back. We’ll learn more about UK after Saturday’s showdown with in-state rival Louisville. So far the Cats have passed every test, save the final seconds in Bloomington, Ind.

2. Florida: The Gators made it look pretty easy against in-state rival Florida State. They are starting to see more consistent play from freshman Bradley Beal, too. Florida has one more road nonconference game, Wednesday at Rutgers.

3. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs will get their toughest test to date against Baylor in Dallas. The Bears and Bulldogs match up well at every position. How Arnett Moultrie and Renardo Sidney deal with the length of Perry Jones III and Quincy Acy will be fascinating to watch.

4. LSU: I took a gamble on the Tigers at No. 4 last Monday and they came through with a win over top 10 Marquette that night. They followed up with a nice road win at North Texas. This list is based on how teams are playing at this point in the season, and right now LSU deserves to be in this spot. The next test: Tuesday's home game against Virginia.

5. Vanderbilt: It’s hard to push the Commodores down too far, even though this team has struggled mightily during the early part of the season. The Dores get yet another challenge this week at Marquette.

6. Alabama: The Crimson Tide finally had a relatively easy win by beating Oklahoma State in Birmingham, Ala. The Cowboys aren't a great team by any means, but Bama desperately needed to get back into gear.

7. Georgia: The Bulldogs went west and won a defensive battle at USC. Georgia is still a work in progress, but Mark Fox has this team heading in the right direction.

8. Ole Miss: The Rebels have the frontline talent to be higher than this and maybe they will ultimately finish in a better slot. But the Rebels still haven’t finished games well, as evidence by the recent loss to Southern Miss.

9. Arkansas: The Hogs are still finding their way under Mike Anderson. Arkansas has had to deal with attrition and still has played its schedule decently.

10. Auburn: Tony Barbee’s team had moments during the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii when it looked like a contender for postseason play. But the Tigers left the island with two losses and without the momentum they sought heading into SEC play.

11. South Carolina: The Gamecocks rolled over Southeastern Louisiana after that gutty effort against Ohio State. Once this team gets its roster settled and Bruce Ellington is done with football for good, this team will pull off a surprise or two in the SEC.

12. Tennessee: The Vols will improve once they get freshman Jarnell Stokes into the lineup in mid-January. Until then, it’s hard to put them any higher after a week in which they squeaked by a pair of average mid-majors.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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