Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Despite some changes at the top in other polls, the SEC power rankings stay the same this week:
1. Alabama: Terrence Cody’s two blocked field goals kept the Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0) atop the power rankings this week … but barely. Alabama’s 12-10 escape against Tennessee raised plenty of concerns in Tide Land. Quarterback Greg McElroy has gone three straight games now without much success throwing the ball, and Alabama looked like a tired football team at times against the Vols. The bye couldn’t have come at a better time.
2. Florida: The truth is there’s not much difference between Alabama and Florida right now. Both teams have their offensive issues to straighten out. The Gators (7-0, 5-0) are struggling in the red zone and haven’t been able to generate much of a downfield passing attack. Their 29-19 win over Mississippi State was far from perfect, including two Tim Tebow interceptions returned for touchdowns, but there’s something to be said for winning on the road when you don’t play your best football.
3. LSU: All of a sudden, the Tigers (6-1, 4-1) look like a team that could contend in the SEC again. Coming off an open date, they took apart Auburn for a 31-10 victory on Saturday and are playing the kind of defense that wins championships. If sophomore quarterback Jordan Jefferson can bottle his performance from last weekend, the Tigers look as strong as anybody in the league. They still control their own destiny in the Western Division and head to Alabama on Nov. 7.
4. South Carolina: The Gamecocks (6-2, 3-2) avoided their annual loss to Vanderbilt, but it was still too close for comfort. These next two games, both on the road, will determine if this is going to be a season to remember or just another average season in Columbia. South Carolina travels to Tennessee on Saturday and then Arkansas on Nov. 7. If the Gamecocks can win both, look out.
5. Ole Miss: The win over Arkansas is what got the Rebels rolling last season. Maybe we’ll see that same script take shape this season. Ole Miss (5-2, 2-2) played its most complete game of the year in taking down Arkansas 30-17 last week and finally has a little momentum to work with heading to Auburn this Saturday. The Rebels might want to keep Dexter McCluster loose. Looks like he’ll get the ball a few more times this season.
6. Tennessee: The Vols (3-4, 1-3) are still short in the results department, but they lead the country in quality losses. They outplayed Alabama for much of the game last weekend, but had two fourth-quarter field goals blocked and fell 12-10. If this is going to be deemed a successful season, they need to find a way to go 4-1 over these final five games beginning with South Carolina’s visit on Saturday.
7. Georgia: Do the Bulldogs (4-3, 3-2) have one great one in them this season? A win over Florida and ruining the Gators’ hopes of winning a second straight national championship would help ease the disappointment for Georgia this season. The Bulldogs are coming off a bye week and get a Florida team that’s frustrated offensively and trying to find itself on that side of the ball.
8. Kentucky: The Wildcats (4-3, 1-3) are winning games, but keep losing players. Middle linebacker Micah Johnson was the latest to go down with a strained MCL in the 36-13 win over Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday. Johnson is iffy for the game against Mississippi State, and senior cornerback Trevard Lindley remains doubtful with a high ankle sprain.
9. Arkansas: So much for the Hogs’ momentum. They looked listless to start the game on Saturday and were beaten soundly by Ole Miss in a 30-17 loss that leaves the Hogs (3-4, 1-4) in a bit of a hole for the rest of the season. They need to hustle if they’re going to have a winning record in the regular season. The good news is that the next four games are at home.
10. Auburn: The ship appears to be taking on water by the second on the Plains. The Tigers (5-3, 2-3) have lost three in a row after falling 31-10 to LSU on Saturday and will be hard-pressed to win another SEC game at this rate. Their defense isn’t stopping anybody, and now Gus Malzahn’s offense has bogged down in the last two games. Gene Chizik said he’s sticking with Chris Todd at quarterback.
11. Mississippi State: If Dan Mullen had his way, the SEC would just do away with the replay system. The Bulldogs (3-5, 1-3) had another situation where a call should have been reversed by replay but wasn’t in their 29-19 loss to Florida. It was still a determined effort by Mississippi State, which got some key plays by freshmen on defense, but just couldn’t move the ball against the Florida defense.
12. Vanderbilt: It’s shaping up as one of those seasons for the Commodores (2-6, 0-5). They did everything but finish the game in a tough 14-10 loss to South Carolina last weekend. The Gamecocks drove 99 yards to snap a two-game losing streak against the Commodores, who had a couple of calls go against them.