Monday, November 2, 2009
SEC power rankings
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
We have a change at the top this week in the SEC power rankings thanks to Florida’s most complete game of the season:
1. Florida: The Gators (8-0, 6-0) answered the mounting questions about their offensive shortcomings emphatically last Saturday with a 41-17 whipping of Georgia in Jacksonville. It’s the kind of complete performance Florida needed heading into the November stretch and was enough to push the Gators past the Crimson Tide into the No. 1 spot.
2. Alabama: Even though the Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0) dropped to No. 2, it was a productive week. They had a bye, which came at a perfect time with LSU coming to town this weekend. Ultimately, it’s not going to matter whether the Crimson Tide are No. 1 or No. 2 if they keep winning. They’ll get their shot to prove they're the SEC’s best team on the field.
3. LSU: The Tigers (7-1, 4-1) have come to life offensively the last two weeks and are coming off a 42-0 rout of Tulane. They get their chance Saturday to move to the forefront of the Western Division race with a win over Alabama. The Tigers have proven they’re good enough defensively to pull it off. Whether they’ve improved enough offensively remains to be seen.
4. Tennessee: The Vols (4-4, 2-3) just keep getting better and are one of those teams nobody wants to play right now. They followed up on their near upset of Alabama with a convincing 31-13 win over South Carolina last weekend. Their defense has allowed just one touchdown in the last three games, and quarterback Jonathan Crompton is playing the best football of his career.
5. South Carolina: The Gamecocks (6-3, 3-3) need to find a way to hold on after losing badly at Tennessee. This can still be a successful season, but it starts to head the other way in a hurry if they lose a second straight this Saturday at Arkansas. The Gamecocks turned the ball over three times in the first 16 minutes of their 31-13 loss at Tennessee. They have to play smarter and with more discipline.
6. Auburn: The Tigers (6-3, 3-3) stopped the bleeding with a much-needed 33-20 win over Ole Miss. Suddenly, winning eight games seems like a real possibility again. The most encouraging news about the win over the Rebels was the way the defense played. Chris Todd also returned to the form that made him one of the league’s most productive quarterbacks in September.
7. Georgia: There have certainly been better days for the Bulldogs (4-4, 3-3). They’ve now lost 17 of their last 20 meetings with archrival Florida and look like they might be limping to the finish this season. The defense continues to give up big numbers. The offense is limited, and the penalties and turnovers just won’t go away. Mark Richt sounds like he’s considering making a change at quarterback after Joe Cox threw three interceptions last week.
8. Ole Miss: Just when you thought the Rebels (5-3, 2-3) were about to get on a roll, they lay an egg at Auburn in a 33-20 loss. It’s already been a disappointing year for a team that opened the season ranked in the Top 10, but it could really turn ugly if the Rebels don’t take care of their business down the stretch. Their resume to this point is pretty unimpressive.
9. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs (4-5, 2-3) are playing some of their best football right now, and senior running back Anthony Dixon has been off-the-charts good. He’s coming off a school-record 252 yards rushing in the 31-24 win over Kentucky. Dan Mullen’s club gets a week off before Alabama comes to town on Nov. 14.
10. Arkansas: The Hogs (4-4, 1-4) beat up on Eastern Michigan 63-27 in one of those name-your-score type of games. Of course, scoring hasn’t really been a problem for this team, which still has a lot to prove in SEC play. The Hogs played well in their 23-20 loss to Florida a couple of weeks ago, but need to come up with a few more league wins down the stretch to make this a successful season.
11. Kentucky: The Wildcats (4-4, 1-4) continue to play shorthanded, although middle linebacker Micah Johnson was able to come back from an MCL strain and play in the 31-24 loss to Mississippi State. Kentucky gets Eastern Kentucky this Saturday and will then need one more win against either Vanderbilt, Georgia or Tennessee to become bowl eligible. There aren’t any guarantees.
12. Vanderbilt: The Commodores (2-7, 0-5) played great for a half against Georgia Tech, but then the bottom fell out. The Yellow Jackets scored 28 unanswered points to turn a 31-28 Vanderbilt lead in the third quarter into a rout. The Commodores have now lost five straight and travel to No. 1 Florida on Saturday. They’re the only team in the league that’s been eliminated from bowl contenti$on.