Monday, September 17, 2012
SEC power rankings: Week 4
By Edward Aschoff
After another Saturday of action, it's pretty clear that Alabama is on another level in this sport. The Crimson Tide had their way with an overmatched Arkansas team, but they did so without displaying their best effort.
I don't care if the Hogs were hurting; Alabama looked pretty darn good out there.
The question now is who can top the Tide?
1. Alabama (3-0; LW: 1): The Crimson Tide left little doubt that they're the best team in the country after blowing Arkansas out of its own stadium 52-0. The Razorbacks might have been down, but it's not like they didn't have talent to test Alabama. Saturday was barely a contest and now everyone is wondering if anyone can beat this team right now.
2. LSU (3-0; LW: 2): The Tigers are quietly playing some very good ball. They've outscored their opponents 145-31 and have been running the ball down teams' throats, averaging an SEC-high 269.3 yards per game. Alabama is getting all the love, but LSU isn't far behind the Tide.
3. Georgia (3-0; LW: 3): The Bulldogs' offense has really been clicking thus far, and we're starting to see that running game get better and tougher. Georgia's defense still has a little more bend than the coaches would like in areas, but it's done a pretty decent job without being at full strength through the first three games. This unit will only get better once Bacarri Rambo and Alec Ogletree return.
4. South Carolina (3-0; LW: 4): The Gamecocks have spent the past two weeks working in their backup quarterback, but haven't missed a beat. Dylan Thompson has passed for 507 yards and five touchdowns in the past two games, and South Carolina has scored 48 and 49 points, respectively. However, Connor Shaw is now dealing with a fracture in his right shoulder, so we might see even more of Thompson from here on out.
5. Florida (3-0; LW: 6): Talk about a second-half team. The Gators have spent the past two weeks stumbling around in the first half, only to run over opponents in the second half. And what's even more impressive is that Florida has done this on the road in two very hostile environments. Against Tennessee on Saturday, Florida registered 555 yards of offense, including 336 on the ground. This team is much tougher than it has been the past two years.
6. Mississippi State (3-0; LW: 7): A letdown against Troy certainly wasn't out of the realm of possibility for the Bulldogs, and they almost got caught sleeping. But Mississippi State survived and has one more tuneup before heading into the meat of conference play. Quarterback Tyler Russell joins West Virginia's Geno Smith as the only quarterbacks in the country with efficiency ratings of 160-plus, eight touchdowns and no interceptions.
7. Tennessee (2-1; LW: 5): When the Vols had a chance to make a big statement in the league, they fell flat in the second half at home against the Gators. This team had Florida on the ropes and let the Gators get away, getting outgained 152-5 in the fourth quarter. Tennessee has a lot of talent, but the magnitude of Saturday's game clearly got to this team.
8. Missouri (2-1; LW: 9): The Tigers have been banged up all year, and had to play over the weekend without starting quarterback James Franklin, who reinjured his shoulder against Georgia. Still, this team showed good toughness against Arizona State in a game that could have turned into a real shootout. The Tigers have to get healthy with a very physical South Carolina coming up as Mizzou turns its attention to conference play.
9. Texas A&M (1-1; LW: 10): The Aggies had a little bit of a hangover from the Florida game to start things off against SMU, but regrouped to bounce the Mustangs 48-3. Johnny Manziel is turning into quite the quarterback to watch, as he accumulated 418 total yards of offense and six touchdowns Saturday. The Aggies have a tuneup game against South Carolina State and then head into SEC play.
10. Auburn (1-2; LW: 12): The Tigers avoided a miserable start by sneaking past Louisiana-Monroe in overtime. Instead of being yet another one of the Warhawks' victims, Auburn's defense stood tall in overtime to set up Cody Parkey's game-winning field goal. This team still has a lot of issues on both sides of the ball, but an 0-3 start would have been a disaster, especially with LSU next.
11. Ole Miss (2-1; LW: 11): The offense looks much better and is more exciting, but the Rebels' defense was embarrassed at home Saturday, as Texas scored 66 points and gained 676 yards in the process. The defense has a lot of work to do before SEC play begins, but if the offense continues to play like it has through three games, Ole Miss will stop its SEC losing streak.
12. Arkansas (1-2; LW: 8): All the Razorbacks have done thus far is beat Jacksonville State (and give up 21 points in the process) and drop back-to-back games to Louisiana-Monroe and Alabama. The last two losses, especially the 52-0 drubbing from Alabama, might have hurt more than Bobby Petrino's untimely exit. Tyler Wilson, who is battling a head injury, called his team out for quitting against Alabama, and he had every reason to.
13. Vanderbilt (1-2; LW: 14): We finally saw the explosion we expected from Vanderbilt's offense Saturday. It might have been against Presbyterian, but it was a much-needed confidence booster for a team that was hovering around the bottom of the SEC in offensive production. But as the Commodores get ready for the heart of conference play, they'll do so with a quarterback controversy on their hands.
14. Kentucky (1-2; LW: 13): Right when the Wildcats look like they're making some sort of progress, they throw it away with a bad overtime loss to Western Kentucky at home -- on a trick play no less. Kentucky's bowl chances got slimmer and slimmer with that loss and things around coach Joker Phillips have to be heating up. Even getting back to five wins will be very tough for the Wildcats this fall.