Monday, September 10, 2012
SEC power rankings: Week 3
By Edward Aschoff
Another week has gone by and there is even more movement in our power rankings.
The top two teams are still the same, but we have a new No. 3 and there are some changes through the middle (LW: Last week's ranking):
1. Alabama (2-0; LW: 1): Despite what Nick Saban might have told the media, his team deserves all the praise it's getting. The Crimson Tide destroyed a ranked Michigan team in a neutral environment and then shut out a very, very overmatched Western Kentucky team. It could have been much worse in Tuscaloosa over the weekend if Saban didn't take his foot off the gas.
2. LSU (2-0; LW: 2): The Tigers haven't been very flashy, but they haven't needed to. LSU is giving up just 201 yards a game and only 3.47 yards per play. Washington was just another victim when it came to the Tigers' ferocious running game, which has averaged 279 yards in the first two games. LSU hasn't really been tested, but there's no denying that this team is good and should only get better.
3. Georgia (2-0, 1-0; LW: 4): The Bulldogs got a big win in Missouri over the weekend. This team's resiliency has been questioned in the past, but it played at its best in Columbia, Mo., with its back against the wall. Once the Bulldogs get back to full strength on defense, we'll really see how much talent Mark Richt is working with in Athens.
4. South Carolina (2-0, 1-0; LW: 5): Connor Shaw was out and Marcus Lattimore failed to eclipse the 50-yard rushing mark, but the Gamecocks had absolutely no problem overwhelming East Carolina. Dylan Thompson filled in well for Shaw, passing for 330 yards and three touchdowns, while the defense shut down the run. The secondary still has some issues to work out, though.
5. Tennessee (2-0; LW: 6): We're still not sure just how good Tennessee is, but it sure is fun watching that offense. Yes, the quality of opponents can be questioned, but both the offense and defense have looked very good, and there is finally quality depth in Knoxville. Tyler Bray continues to impress with his arm, and he has plenty of weapons to work with. He and his team get a real test Saturday against No. 18 Florida at home.
6. Florida (2-0, 1-0; LW: 7): The Gators squeaked out a win that probably wouldn't have come in the two years prior. It wasn't very pretty overall, but Florida was very impressive after all those second-half adjustments against Texas A&M. This team is tougher and looks more like the physical team Will Muschamp wants. Saturday's trip to Knoxville could really set the tone for the Gators moving forward.
7. Mississippi State (2-0, 1-0; LW: 8): Dan Mullen finally got a win over an SEC West opponent not named Ole Miss with that 28-10 win against Auburn over the weekend. Now, it's all about capitalizing on the weekend's success. The defense totally dominated the Tigers' offense, while Tyler Russell looked as poised as ever. If this team continues to play like it has in the first two weeks, Mississippi State could be 6-1 or 7-0 heading into the Alabama game in late October.
8. Arkansas (1-1; LW: 3): The Razorbacks took a major tumble because of their 34-31 overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe. After Tyler Wilson went down late in the second quarter, Arkansas had nothing going for itself. The defense was shredded by the Warhawks and the offensive line did a poor job of protecting all night. We found out there's a lot more missing in Fayetteville than just Bobby Petrino. Now, Wilson's health is an issue ...
9. Missouri (1-1, 0-1; LW: 9): No one can say the Tigers didn't play a tough SEC opener against Georgia. The Tigers hung with the Bulldogs for the better part of three quarters, but ran out of gas in the fourth. This team has a lot of talent, especially on the offensive side of the ball, but it has to be more conditioned to play four quarters in this league. You better believe this team is itching to get back on the field.
10. Texas A&M (0-1; LW: 10): Like Mizzou, the Aggies didn't have enough second-half steam. After leading 17-10 over Florida at halftime, Texas A&M was shut out 10-0 in the second half. This team has the talent up front on offense and defense to compete in this league, but the running game has to generate more between the tackles and have the stamina to compete for four quarters.
11. Ole Miss (2-0; LW: 13): The Rebels have won two straight for the first time since October 2010. The offense is tops in the SEC, averaging 551.5 yards per game. This team is actually fun to watch. OK, so the first two opponents weren't exactly hefty, but they were big wins for a program that has struggled so much recently. Saturday, No. 14 Texas rolls into the Grove.
12. Auburn (0-2; LW: 11): There has to be a lot of concern on the Plains. While the Tigers have a lot of young talent, they're also prone to a lot of mistakes and inefficiency. Kiehl Frazier was turned strictly into a pocket passer -- which Scot Loeffler would eventually like -- and he was completely ineffective against Mississippi State. The offensive line doesn't have much push, and the defense has major tackling issues. If Auburn isn't careful, it could find itself fighting for a bowl berth.
13. Kentucky (1-1; LW: 14): Saturday's 47-14 win against Kent State was huge. If the Wildcats are going to make it back to the postseason, they will need to win the remainder of their nonconference games after dropping the opener to Louisville. Maxwell Smith was also very impressive, passing for 354 yards and four touchdowns. The defense needs to continue to grow before SEC play and will get a chance to fine-tune things against Western Kentucky on Saturday.
14. Vanderbilt (0-2, 0-1; LW: 12): The Commodores suffered a bad loss at Northwestern over the weekend. This offense was supposed to be more explosive this year, but we just haven't seen it. Zac Stacy, who was the top rusher coming back in the SEC this year, has just 84 yards in two games and Vandy's offense ranks 13th in the SEC in total offense. The Commodores are 113th nationally in rushing yards and 112th in scoring.