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Alabama on the move in latest power rankings

9/2/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Not a bad start for the SEC, although Mississippi State and Tennessee didn't exactly represent. The Bulldogs turned the ball over five times and lost at Louisiana Tech. The Vols looked like they were scared to win the game and dropped a 27-24 overtime decision to a depleted UCLA club. Here are the new power rankings now that everybody has played a game:

1. Florida: Georgia got a bunch of mileage out of drubbing Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl last season, so Florida deserves some, right? The Gators are beyond fast and keep coming at you with guys who can score in the blink of an eye. The secondary will be a strength this season.

2. Georgia: The Bulldogs just keep taking hits in the injury department. Defensive tackle Jeff Owens is the latest to be lost for the season. Matthew Stafford looked sharp in the season-opening rout of Georgia Southern, and this is the best group of receivers he's had. You've got to like the young talent on this team.

3. LSU: Andrew Hatch and Jarrett Lee were steady at quarterback against Appalachian State, and steady will be good enough to beat most teams on the Tigers' schedule. They're that good up front both offensively and defensively and appear to be even faster on defense this season.

4. Alabama: No team was more impressive the opening weekend than Alabama, which physically punished a then-Top 10 team in Clemson. Now, let's see the Crimson Tide sustain it. Even Alabama coach Nick Saban has warned that it was only a start. But what a start it was.

5. Auburn: The jury's still out on Auburn's quarterback situation, and it sounds like offensive coordinator Tony Franklin is going to tweak how he rotates Kodi Burns and Chris Todd. The Tigers are extremely good on defense, but they still have to prove that they can throw the ball if they're going to win the Western Division.

6. South Carolina: One game down, and The Head Ball Coach already has him another quarterback. Chris Smelley will start against Vanderbilt on Thursday night after Tommy Beecher threw three interceptions and hurt his shoulder in the opener. The Gamecocks look pretty salty on defense.

7. Ole Miss: We find out a lot more about the Rebels this coming weekend when they travel to Wake Forest. But their collection of playmakers on offense is impressive, and quarterback Jevan Snead will only get better. When they get healthy in the defensive line, this will be a team that nobody will want to face.

8. Kentucky: The roles have reversed at Kentucky. Now, it's the defense that's going to have to win games for the Wildcats while the offense holds on. Kentucky's defensive front is for real and matches up with most everybody in the league. Sophomore quarterback Mike Hartline has to continue to grow.

9. Vanderbilt: An underdog on the road, Vanderbilt got a big performance from senior quarterback Chris Nickson and hammered Miami (Ohio) 34-13 last Thursday. It's safe to say that D.J. Moore can play a little bit, too. A win this Thursday against South Carolina, and the Commodores will climb even higher.

10. Tennessee: The Vols are lucky they aren't dead last. They looked dead for much of the second half Monday after a depleted UCLA team tried to gift-wrap the game for them with four interceptions. But Tennessee went belly-up and found a way to lose in overtime. Simply, an indefensible loss for Phillip Fulmer and the program.

11. Miss. State: Anybody who knows anything about Sylvester Croom knows his team won't lie down, but carving out a second straight winning season will be tough at this rate. The Bulldogs were awful on offense in the season-opening loss at Louisiana Tech and lost one of their best defenders, linebacker Jamar Chaney, for the season with a broken leg.

12. Arkansas: The bright spot was senior quarterback Casey Dick. He saved the Hogs from an embarrassing home defeat to Western Illinois, an FCS (I-AA) school in their opener. Bobby Petrino is playing a bunch of freshmen, and it looks like the Hogs are going to take their lumps this season.

The preseason rankings: 1. Florida, 2. Georgia, 3. LSU, 4. Auburn, 5. Tennessee, 6. South Carolina, 7. Ole Miss, 8. Alabama, 9. Miss. State, 10. Kentucky, 11. Arkansas, 12. Vanderbilt