Monday, October 3, 2011
SEC power rankings: Week 6
By Chris Low
» Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC
It’s the most movement we’ve seen this season in the SEC power rankings.
After you get past the top two in this league, there’s not a lot of difference in the next five or six teams. Here’s betting you see those teams beating up on each other over the next month or so.
Here’s a look at where everybody stands in the SEC entering Week 6:
1. LSU: It’s easy to make cases for both Alabama and LSU being No. 1, and they’re both deserving. But the Tigers (5-0, 2-0) hold onto the top spot based on the fact that they’ve beaten three Top 25 teams away from home. With quarterback Jordan Jefferson and receiver Russell Shepard both back now, the Tigers say they “feel whole again" coming off their 35-7 rout of Kentucky. Either way, they’re on top of their game right now.
2. Alabama: The Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0) flexed their muscle in a big way this past Saturday with a 38-10 pounding of Florida on the road. That’s two impressive beatdowns in a row by Alabama, which reeled off 35 unanswered points in a show of physical football in the Swamp that would have made Vince Lombardi proud. A week earlier, Alabama overwhelmed Arkansas 38-14. There appears to be clear sailing ahead for the Tide until LSU comes to town on Nov. 5.
3. Arkansas: Talk about your character games. The Hogs (4-1, 0-1) showed theirs by rallying from a 35-17 halftime deficit and beating Texas A&M 42-38, setting a ton of records along the way. Quarterback Tyler Wilson and receiver Jarius Wright were unstoppable, making up for an injury-riddled defense that took it on the chin, but rose to the challenge in the second half and held the Aggies to a field goal.
4. Auburn: All the Tigers do is win. They win shootouts. They win ugly. They win when everybody else but them expects them to lose. Auburn (4-1, 2-0) slugged its way to a 16-13 win at South Carolina last Saturday with Mike Dyer carrying the ball 41 times for 141 yards. The West is loaded with great teams again this season, and the Tigers are determined to prove that they belong in that category.
5. South Carolina: You could see it coming with the Gamecocks, who had been skating by and playing just well enough to win. It caught up with them Saturday, that and an offense that has gone belly-up. The Gamecocks (4-1, 2-1) lost 16-13 to Auburn at home and are going to lose again if they don’t figure out something at quarterback. It sounds like fifth-year senior Stephen Garcia will be benched, as Steve Spurrier said changes are coming.
6. Florida: The road ahead is an ominous one for the Gators, who are coming off a 38-10 home defeat to Alabama. They now have to play at LSU and at Auburn the next two weeks, and after a bye week, face Georgia in Jacksonville. It looks like they will be doing so with a true freshman quarterback after John Brantley was injured against Alabama. Jeff Driskel played the entire second half and is the guy Florida’s planning to go with for the foreseeable future.
7. Georgia: All those people calling for Mark Richt’s head following the back-to-back losses to open the season might want to reconsider now that the Bulldogs (3-2, 2-1) are right back in the middle of the Eastern Division race. They travel to Tennessee this coming weekend, and a win there would put the Bulldogs in excellent shape. They have the easiest schedule the rest of the way, and their defense gets better every week.
8. Tennessee: The Vols (3-1, 0-1) get a chance to show that they belong front and center in the Eastern Division race when Georgia comes to Knoxville this Saturday. Tennessee’s one of those teams that could make an argument for being higher in these rankings. Sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray is playing lights out, and the Vols throw the ball all over the park. If they can get that first SEC win, they’ll move up.
9. Vanderbilt: The Commodores (3-1, 1-1) are coming off an open date, and it came at a good time. Quarterback Larry Smith was hurting after being knocked around two weeks ago against South Carolina. The “reward” for having that off week is that Vanderbilt gets to travel to Alabama, which gobbles up good offenses. The Commodores are still searching for a pulse offensively, but are playing as well as anyone on defense.
10. Mississippi State: Something’s missing right now for Dan Mullen’s Bulldogs, who don’t have any pop offensively. They need to get busy or will fall into that dubious category of being the league’s biggest disappointment this season. They trailed Georgia 24-3 last week before losing 24-10. They’re struggling along the offensive line and simply not making a lot of plays on offense right now. Mississippi State (2-3, 0-3) travels to UAB this coming weekend.
11. Ole Miss: For the first time ever, Ole Miss traveled to California to play a football game. It was a trip well worth it for the Rebels, who came to life offensively behind quarterback Randall Mackey and beat Fresno State 38-28. It had been a turbulent past few weeks in Oxford with the discontent and restlessness among fans, but Mackey brought the Rebels back from a 28-27 deficit late in the third quarter in a game Ole Miss (2-3, 0-2) had to have.
12. Kentucky: Until the Wildcats (2-3, 0-2) can find just a little bit of offense, they’re going to have a hard time climbing out of the cellar. They’ve lost three straight games now and have failed to score more than 17 points in any of the three. Kentucky is ranked 118th out of 120 FBS teams in total offense, and coach Joker Phillips is searching to find answers. Morgan Newton will continue to get first-team reps at quarterback this week, but Phillips said freshman Maxwell Smith could also play.