SEC power rankings

September, 28, 2009
9/28/09
8:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low


There's been a shakeup at the top this week in the SEC power rankings.

Alabama and Florida have swapped positions. The Gators really didn't do a lot to lose the No. 1 spot. It was more the Crimson Tide doing enough to earn the No. 1 spot.

Nick Saban's club has been the most consistent, the most physical and the most impressive team in the league through the first month of the season and also has a win over a top-10 team on a neutral field to its credit.

Until further notice, Alabama sits atop the SEC throne:

1. Alabama: The Crimson Tide (4-0, 1-0) didn't have any problem in their SEC opener, a 35-7 spanking of Arkansas that could have been worse had Saban not stepped off the gas in the fourth quarter. Even without sophomore linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who will undergo surgery to repair ligament damage in his knee, this is still one of the nastiest defenses in the country.

2. Florida: We'll have to wait and see what Tim Tebow's status is and how long it takes before he's cleared again for contact. Concussions are all different. The good news for the Gators (4-0, 2-0) is that they're off this weekend and don't play again until they travel to LSU on Oct. 10. Other than the brutal hit on Tebow, they had little trouble with Kentucky in a 41-7 blowout on the road.

3. LSU: This is where it gets tough. We could have some serious debate about who's the third best team in the SEC at this point. The Tigers (4-0, 1-0) get the nod based on process of elimination. They really haven't played all that great and have done just enough to get by most of the time. But there's no debating their talent or some of the plays they've made. See Chad Jones' punt return last Saturday.

4. Georgia: The Bulldogs (3-1, 2-0) have sure made things interesting. They escaped this past weekend against Arizona State thanks to a Blair Walsh 37-yard field goal as time expired. The best thing the Bulldogs have going for them is their resolve. They could easily be 1-3 right now, but they've overcome their own mistakes to remain unbeaten in the league heading into Saturday's home showdown with LSU.

5. Auburn: The concern with the Tigers (4-0, 1-0) has been their defense. They've been super explosive on offense, but are 10th in the league in scoring defense and total defense. In each of their last three games, they've given up at least 24 points. The equalizer has been their ability to force turnovers. They lead the league with 10 turnovers gained in the first four games. They hit the road for the first time this Saturday against Tennessee.

6. South Carolina: What was a successful month of September for South Carolina (3-1, 1-1) could have been a perfect month had the Gamecocks made one more play against Georgia. They're that close to being unbeaten despite playing a tough schedule. The win over Ole Miss last Thursday puts them in great shape to be 5-1 heading to Alabama on Oct. 17. Any South Carolina fan would have taken that back in August.

7. Ole Miss: The Rebels (2-1, 0-1) take the biggest tumble after checking in at No. 3 in the SEC power rankings last week. They still have the talent to contend in the West and played well on defense in the 16-10 loss to South Carolina. But they look disjointed on offense right now, and Jevan Snead isn't playing like a franchise quarterback. He just doesn't look to be in sync, and his struggles have worn off on the rest of the offense. The Rebels are capable of catching fire. They better hurry, though. Alabama comes to town in two weeks.

8. Tennessee: The most impressive thing the Vols (2-2, 0-1) have done to this point is play Florida close at the Swamp. It continues to be a struggle for senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton, and the Vols are starting to see the injuries pile up across the board. They lost middle linebacker Nick Reveiz for the season in last Saturday's 34-23 victory over Ohio. If they can stay away from any more injuries, the defense is good enough to carry this team. What kind of season the Vols have hinges on these next two home games against Auburn and Georgia.

9. Arkansas: The Hogs (1-2, 0-2) have been the most disappointing team in the league through the first month of the season. They're plenty explosive on offense, and Ryan Mallett will pile up the passing yards against a lot of teams. But coach Bobby Petrino provided the greatest indictment against his team when he said afterward that the Hogs didn't believe they could win. That's not a good omen for a team that has given up 87 points in two SEC games.

10. Kentucky: A lot of teams are going to look bad against Florida this season, but it only gets more daunting for the Wildcats (2-1, 0-1) with Alabama rolling into the Bluegrass this week. Kentucky looked awful on offense to open the game against Florida and was down 31-0 at the end of the first quarter. If the Wildcats continue to make those kinds of mistakes and look that sloppy on offense, they can forget about making it to a bowl game for the third straight season. The silver lining is that they played respectably following that nightmarish first quarter.

11. Mississippi State: What a tough loss to swallow for the Bulldogs, who needed a foot at home to knock off LSU and couldn't get the ball into the end zone. Mississippi State (2-2, 1-2) showed a lot of heart in its 30-26 loss to the nationally ranked Tigers, and defensive coordinator Carl Torbush has that defense playing a lot better after the Auburn debacle the second week of the season. It doesn't get any easier for the Bulldogs these next two weeks with nationally ranked nonconference games against Georgia Tech and Houston.

12. Vanderbilt: It remains to be seen if the Commodores (2-2, 0-2) are truly the worst team in the league. They bounced back from their home loss to Mississippi State with a much-needed 36-17 win over Rice that included several big plays on offense that the Commodores had been lacking. Vanderbilt has the defense to get back to a bowl game, but there's still a long way to go on offense.

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