Not that it really matters at this point, but Alabama and Florida are switching places at the top of the SEC power rankings this week.
The Crimson Tide have been the more complete team the last two weeks, so they move back into the No. 1 spot.
The good thing is that Alabama and Florida will settle this whole debate on the field come Dec. 5:
1. Alabama: The way Alabama (10-0, 7-0) disposed of Mississippi State in such a hostile environment last Saturday was impressive. The Crimson Tide won 31-3 at Scott Field, and in doing so, showed off their offensive firepower. They had three scoring plays of 45 yards or longer. And defensively, they’ve allowed just three touchdowns in their last five games.
2. Florida: Consider the Gators 1A. They’ve occupied the top spot for the last two weeks and have won 20 straight games dating back to last season. But as well as they’re playing on defense, there’s still something missing on offense. The Gators (10-0, 8-0) just can’t seem to consistently generate a downfield passing game, which is something they’re going to need down the road.
3. LSU: The Tigers (8-2, 4-2) will find out over these next two weeks if they’ve had a very good season or an OK season. They get Ole Miss on the road this weekend and then return home to face Arkansas in the regular-season finale. Their 24-16 win over Louisiana Tech last Saturday was a struggle the whole way, and it’s obvious the Tigers need to get Jordan Jefferson back at quarterback.
4. Ole Miss: The Rebels (7-3, 3-3) had sort of been floundering along and beating up on lightweights all season until Dexter McCluster decided to cut it loose last Saturday and torched Tennessee for a school-record 282 yards rushing. Actually, it was Houston Nutt & Co. that cut McCluster loose, and it’s made all the difference in Ole Miss’ team. The Rebels now have a chance to play their way into the Capital One Bowl.
5. Tennessee: The Vols (5-5, 2-4) are bunched in with several other teams right in the middle of the pack in the SEC after being whipped 42-17 at Ole Miss. Good thing they don’t have to face spread offenses every week, huh? The Vols really had some momentum and good karma going until the arrest of the three freshman players last week and then the blowout loss to the Rebels two days later.
6. Georgia: The Bulldogs (6-4, 4-3) are on the brink of passing Tennessee and probably will if they beat Kentucky this week and finish up 5-3 in the conference. It’s hard to move them into the top 5 of the league right now, though, given the way they were routed by the Vols back in October. The 31-24 win over Auburn last Saturday was one this team had to have, and the Bulldogs delivered. The bad news is that they will be without star receiver A.J. Green for a while after he injured his shoulder.
7. Arkansas: If only the Hogs (6-4, 2-4) could play offense the whole time. Quarterback Ryan Mallett is lighting it up this season and coming off five touchdown passes in the 56-20 win over Troy. This final stretch, starting with Mississippi State in Little Rock on Saturday, will determine what kind of season it’s going to be for the Hogs. If they can get to seven or eight wins, there could be a Cotton Bowl date in their future.
8. Auburn: This is probably a little too low for the Tigers (7-4, 3-4) considering they beat Ole Miss and Tennessee ahead of them, but they also lost to Kentucky below them. The fact is that the Tigers haven’t looked like the same team ever since their 5-0 start and have lost four of their last six games. They couldn’t hold a 14-0 lead over Georgia last Saturday and fell 31-24 in Athens. They get their first bye of the season this week before taking on Alabama.
9. South Carolina: Once again, that late-season slope has been a slippery one for the Gamecocks (6-5, 3-5). They’ve lost three in a row coming off a hard-fought 24-14 loss to Florida and get a week off before taking on Clemson. The Head Ball Coach has done his best to remain positive. The Gamecocks do have a lot of young talent in the program and have endured a rash of injuries on defense. Their undoing has been crippling mistakes.
10. Kentucky: The Wildcats (6-4, 3-3) have done a nice job of persevering this season despite a glut of injuries. They rallied in the second half last Saturday to beat Vanderbilt and become bowl eligible for the fourth straight year. With Mike Hartline undergoing surgery to repair cartilage in his knee, freshman Morgan Newton will remain at quarterback with help from Randall Cobb in the Wildcat formation. Hartline hopes to be back for the bowl game.
11. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs (4-6, 2-4) had been so close at home this season that it stood to reason that they might be due to knock off somebody. That somebody wasn’t Alabama, which flattened Mississippi State 31-3 and left the Bulldogs in an unenviable position these last two weeks. They need to beat both Arkansas and Ole Miss if they’re going to become bowl eligible in Dan Mullen’s first season in Starkville.
12. Vanderbilt: After a season to remember a year ago, it’s been a season to forget this year for the Commodores (2-9, 0-7). They’re mired in their first seven-game losing streak since 2003 and will try to keep it from becoming eight in a row this Saturday against Tennessee. Scoring points has been the Commodores’ problem all season long. They took a 13-10 lead into halftime last week against Kentucky, but were shut out in the second half and lost 24-13.