- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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The SEC has four teams in the top 10 of the latest BCS standings. This week's SEC Power Rankings have a similar look at the top:
1. LSU (8-0, 5-0): Approaching midnight Saturday, we won’t have to choose anymore between Alabama and LSU. We’ll know who’s better. Until that time, the Tigers stay on top based on their five wins over nationally ranked foes and the way they’ve rolled through the opposition regardless of how many key players they were missing.
2. Alabama (8-0, 5-0): The Crimson Tide are an early favorite in the game, which isn’t surprising given that the game is being played in Tuscaloosa. Alabama has been equally impressive this season. It has won all five of its SEC games by at least 24 points and is ranked nationally at the top or near the top in just about every defensive category.
3. Arkansas (7-1, 3-1): There was a time when finishing the game was a problem for the Hogs. Now, it’s figuring out how to start the game. Once again, they recovered from a poor start to rally and beat Vanderbilt on the road last week. It’s probably going to take a more complete game to beat South Carolina, which is playing lights out on defense right now.
4. South Carolina (7-1, 5-1): The Gamecocks are winning ugly, and it’s obvious that’s not Steve Spurrier’s style. But he likes winning too much to complain too loudly. There’s nothing ugly about the way their defense has been playing. They’ve gone five straight games now without allowing the opposition to score more than 16 points.
5. Georgia (6-2, 5-1): It’s hard to believe the Bulldogs are sitting where they are after seeing them start the season 0-2 and all the grumbling going on around the program at that time. But they’ve won six straight games and really showed their mettle, particularly defensively, in being able to claw back into the East race.
6. Auburn (6-3, 4-2): The Tigers take this week off and can use the break after playing nine straight weeks. It’s the longest any team in the SEC went before getting a bye. Quarterback Clint Moseley played much better in his second start last week, and the collection of younger players the Tigers are playing are starting to come into their own. This is a team that could still win eight or more games.
7. Florida (4-4, 2-4): The Gators are glad just to get out of October after losing all four games they played during the month. It was a killer schedule, for sure, but they’re struggling to find any kind of consistency or rhythm on offense. Senior quarterback John Brantley returned against Georgia and showed a lot of courage in playing on a gimpy ankle. The Gators are going to need to keep him healthy if they’re going to finish with a winning record.
8. Vanderbilt (4-4, 1-4): First-year coach James Franklin isn’t into moral victories, but it’s pretty clear the Commodores, to quote their coach, aren’t going to sit back and take it anymore. They just missed again last week against Arkansas and are starting to improve on offense. They need to find two more wins in these last four games to qualify for a bowl.
9. Mississippi State (4-4, 1-4): Nothing has come easy for the Bulldogs this season, and outside the opener against Memphis, they haven’t looked like the team everybody thought they would be when the season began. They shouldn’t have any problem this week against UT Martin, but then they close the season against Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss.
10. Tennessee (3-5, 0-5): The Vols are mired in one of the worst stretches in their program’s history. They have lost four straight games, the second straight season they’ve had a four-game skid, and have gone two straight games without scoring a touchdown. They need to get busy if they’re going to make a bowl game. Losing quarterback Tyler Bray and receiver Justin Hunter was a killer for this team.
11. Kentucky (3-5, 0-4): The Wildcats showed a pulse against Mississippi State last week in a tough loss and might have found a new quarterback. Coach Joker Phillips said junior Morgan Newton and freshman Maxwell Smith will compete for the starting job this week. Smith came in and played well last week after Newton banged up his shoulder and ankle.
12. Ole Miss (2-6, 0-5): The Rebels lay claim to the bottom spot based on their 11 straight SEC losses going back to last season. That said, they haven’t quit fighting and were right there against both Auburn and Arkansas in the first half each of the past two weeks, but simply couldn’t finish the deal. They get a chance to move out of the cellar this week if they can beat Kentucky in Lexington and end their league drought.
20hGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough