- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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The SEC Power Rankings this week look a lot like the ones last week:
1. LSU (10-0, 6-0): This week the Tigers are the first unanimous No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll since 2008, so it stands to reason that they’d be a rock-solid No. 1 in the SEC Power Rankings. They were a little flat in the first half last week against Western Kentucky, but ended up winning easily. It also looks like Jordan Jefferson might be the quarterback of record … for now.
2. Alabama (9-1, 6-1): The entire weekend couldn’t have gone much better for the Crimson Tide. They pulled away in the second half to beat Mississippi State and held their 11th straight opponent to 14 points or fewer dating to last season. Meanwhile, Stanford and Boise State both lost, and Alabama remained No. 3 in the latest BCS standings. The Crimson Tide are right there in striking distance.
3. Arkansas (9-1, 5-1): It looks like the Hogs could be getting hot at just the right time. They dismantled Tennessee 49-7 last week and have scored 93 points over their past two games. The threesome of Jarius Wright, Joe Adams and Dennis Johnson is taking turns striking from long distance, and the Hogs moved up to No. 6 this week in the BCS standings. They’re big chance comes in two weeks at LSU.
4. Georgia (8-2, 6-1): All that remains for the Bulldogs in their quest to get back to Atlanta and play in the SEC championship game is beating Kentucky at home this week. They’ve won eight straight games and put together their most complete performance of the season last week in a 45-7 drubbing of Auburn. South Carolina beat Georgia head-to-head this season, but the Bulldogs are a better team right now.
5. South Carolina (8-2, 6-2): Barring a serious choke job by Georgia this week against Kentucky, South Carolina won’t be making its second straight trip to the SEC championship game. The Gamecocks overcame the season-ending injury to star running back Marcus Lattimore to beat everybody in the East, including a 17-12 victory against Florida last week, but that 16-13 home loss to Auburn is going to come back to haunt them.
6. Auburn (6-4, 4-3): The fact that Auburn is No. 6 this week in these rankings tells you a lot about the rest of the league. The Tigers were coming off a bye week and went to Georgia and were absolutely embarrassed in a 45-7 beatdown. The Tigers had done a nice job of hanging in there until last week’s debacle, but were a no-show both physically and emotionally in Athens.
7. Florida (5-5, 3-5): The Gators wrapped up SEC play last week with another paltry showing offensively in a 17-12 loss to South Carolina. Their 3-5 league record marks the first time since 1986 that they’ve finished with a losing SEC record. It’s been a train wreck offensively all season for the Gators, and the injury to quarterback John Brantley was a huge blow, but they haven’t done anything consistently well offensively all season.
8. Vanderbilt (5-5, 2-5): The Commodores have two shots to qualify for a bowl -- this week at Tennessee and the next week at Wake Forest. In some parts, they’re actually favored over Tennessee coming off their 38-8 rout of Kentucky. First-year coach James Franklin has this team believing and has it playing at a very high level right now. It’s already been a successful debut for Franklin, but could get a lot better these next two weeks.
9. Mississippi State (5-5, 1-5): This isn’t what anybody expected in Starkville this season, although the Bulldogs showed some fire, especially defensively, last week in their 24-7 loss to Alabama. They need to win one of these next two games against Arkansas on the road this week or Ole Miss at home the following week just to qualify for a bowl.
10. Tennessee (4-6, 0-6): For the first time ever, the Vols are off to an 0-6 start in the SEC. Their schedule has been grueling. They’ve had to face Alabama, LSU and Arkansas, which pummeled Tennessee 49-7 last week, and key injuries have also played a huge role. Still, this is one of the weakest teams Tennessee has put on the field in more than 30 years. It will only get worse if the Vols don’t beat Vanderbilt at home this week.
11. Kentucky (4-6, 1-5): The Wildcats’ faint bowl hopes are on life support. They were drilled 38-8 last week at Vanderbilt and have to win at Georgia this week, or they will be staying at home in the postseason for the first time since 2005. Not much has gone right for Joker Phillips’ club this season, and it starts with an offense that simply hasn’t had a pulse more times than not.
12. Ole Miss (2-8, 0-6): When it goes bad in this league, it really goes bad. The Rebels are limping to the finish of Houston Nutt’s tenure in Oxford. After it was announced last week that he wouldn’t be back as coach, Ole Miss went out and was thumped 27-7 at home by Louisiana Tech. It doesn’t get any easier for the Rebels this week. No. 1 LSU comes to town.
15hSam Khan and Greg Ostendorf