Monday, October 5, 2009
SEC power rankings
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
There wasn’t a lot of shakeup in the SEC power rankings this week, although Auburn continues its steady climb. Three teams in the Western Division remain unbeaten -- Alabama, Auburn and LSU.
Here’s a look at the updated rankings:
1. Alabama: Pardon the pun, but Alabama (5-0, 2-0) just keeps rolling along. The Crimson Tide have scored 30 or more points in their first five games, the first time that’s happened in their rich history. They were a bit sloppy to start last week’s 38-20 win over Kentucky, but unleashed a flurry of points over the span of a few minutes to send the Wildcats packing. The Crimson Tide face their toughest road test so far this season Saturday at Ole Miss.
2. Florida: Will he or won’t he? The Tim Tebow wait continues. The Gators may not know until later in the week if they will have their star quarterback Saturday against LSU. He still has to be cleared by doctors for contact after suffering a concussion against Kentucky two weeks ago, and nobody knows when and if that will happen. In the meantime, the Gators (4-0, 2-0) are preparing with sophomore John Brantley at the helm. They were off last weekend.
3. LSU: While everybody keeps waiting for the Tigers (5-0, 3-0) to take off and put it all together in one of those performances that makes the rest of the college football world stop and go, “Whoa,” they just continue to win. This latest time, they scored a pair of touchdowns in the final 2:53 to escape at Georgia Saturday. Now it’s onto the Gators.
4. Auburn: The surprise of the league has clearly been Gene Chizik’s bunch. Somebody must have forgotten to tell the Tigers (5-0, 2-0) that they weren’t supposed to be any good in Chizik’s first season. That offense has been something else with Chris Todd throwing and Ben Tate and Onterio McCalebb running. The Tigers face another road test at Arkansas this weekend after disposing of Tennessee last Saturday in their first road game of the season.
5. Georgia: This is where it gets difficult. The Bulldogs (3-2, 2-1) have lost two games, including the 20-13 home decision to LSU in the final seconds last Saturday, but they also own the head-to-head win over South Carolina. Both of the teams Georgia lost to were ranked in the top 10 at the time of the game. The Bulldogs need to find a running game fast, or they’re going to find themselves in the lower half of the league.
6. South Carolina: The Gamecocks (4-1, 1-1) are solidly in the top half of the league and in prime position to climb even higher coming off their 38-14 win over South Carolina State. They get Kentucky at home this weekend before going to No. 3-ranked Alabama the following weekend. This team has played some terrific defense this season, which bodes well for what lies ahead. If the Gamecocks can stay healthy the rest of the way, they have an excellent chance to win at least eight games.
7. Ole Miss: The team with the chance to make the biggest jump this coming week is Ole Miss. The Rebels (3-1, 1-1) get Alabama at home in one of the most anticipated games at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in decades. They need the “real” Jevan Snead to show up this Saturday to put pressure on an Alabama defense that is one of the best in the country. The Rebels are probably better than the seventh best team in the SEC, but wins over Memphis, Southeastern Louisiana and Vanderbilt don’t warrant them being ranked any higher at this point.
8. Arkansas: You talk about must-wins. The Hogs (2-2, 0-2) had to have that one in Arlington, Texas, last Saturday. They fell behind 10-0 early, but came roaring back behind Ryan Mallett’s four touchdown passes to beat Texas A&M 47-19. A third straight loss would have really sent Bobby Petrino’s club into a tailspin. Now, though, Arkansas comes back home with a little momentum to face Auburn in a game that could give the scoreboard a workout.
9. Tennessee: The Vols (2-3, 0-2) have suffered two home losses now and could go winless in October if they don’t find some answers on offense and special teams. Quarterback Jonathan Crompton was better in the 26-22 loss to Auburn on Saturday, but still not good enough to win. The kick coverage stunk for the second straight week. What is it about Tennessee and poor special-teams play? Georgia comes to town this Saturday, and the Vols desperately need a win.
10. Mississippi State: Dan Mullen has upgraded the offense pretty quickly in Starkville. The Bulldogs (2-3, 1-2) have scored 24 or more points in four of their five games this season, but they’ve also given up some big numbers on defense, sandwiched around a defensive gem against Vanderbilt. They need to find a way to put it all together, because there are some new players in the program (Chad Bumphis, Leon Berry and Pernell McPhee) playing at a high level.
11. Kentucky: The Wildcats (2-2, 0-2) really need to be careful now that it all doesn’t go south after back-to-back losses at home to Alabama and Florida. Quarterback Mike Hartline needs to get back to playing with more confidence, and the Wildcats have to avoid the crippling mistakes on offense and defense.
12. Vanderbilt: It’s really a struggle right now for the Commodores (2-3, 0-3) on offense, and that’s a shame because they’re playing at a high level defensively and giving themselves a chance on that side of the ball. The thing that galled Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson most about the 23-7 loss to Ole Miss Saturday was the processional of silly penalties. The Commodores finished with 12, which is highly uncharacteristic of Johnson’s teams.