Monday, November 5, 2012
SEC power rankings: Week 11
By Edward Aschoff
The season is almost coming to a close, but one thing remains in the SEC: It's Alabama's world and its opponents are just trying to survive ...
1. Alabama (9-0; last week: 1): The Crimson Tide looked human against LSU over the weekend. After struggling for the better part of four quarters, Alabama needed a last-minute touchdown drive to beat LSU. Thanks to some sharp passes from AJ McCarron and a perfectly timed screen to T.J. Yeldon, Alabama is still the No. 1 team in the country and still controls its path to Miami. But did LSU give the rest of the nation a blueprint for beating the Tide?
2. Georgia (8-1; LW: 3): The Bulldogs played their most complete game of the season in their blowout win over Ole Miss. Georgia looked like the team we thought we'd see for most of the year. Better late than never, right? A win over Auburn and the Dawgs are headed back to Atlanta for the second straight season. Many have to be wondering if the Georgia offense we saw Saturday could really test the Tide.
3. Florida (8-1; LW: 4): It's clear that the Gators still need a lot of help in their passing game after a dreadful offensive performance against Missouri. Jordan Reed continues to be the only consistent receiving weapon, which is adding a ton of pressure to Florida's running game. Loading the box against the Gators has been extremely effective lately because Florida just isn't a threat to pass. Florida has two weeks to clean things up against cupcakes before a very tough game at Florida State.
4. LSU (7-2; LW: 2): The Tigers had their best offensive game of the season against Alabama, but came up short in Death Valley. They have no reason to hang their heads, but their national championship hopes are all but gone. What LSU can really take from Saturday's game is the growth made by Zach Mettenberger. He threw for a career-high 298 yards and didn't turn the ball over. He looked composed and didn't shy away from the pressure. The Sugar Bowl is still very much in the mix for the Tigers.
5. South Carolina (7-2; LW: 5): The Gamecocks were off this past weekend, but you have to think the bye is exactly what South Carolina needed. Losing Marcus Lattimore for the season had to be emotionally draining for this team, so to have some time off was a good thing for the Gamecocks. South Carolina now gets an Arkansas team that is fighting for its bowl life. A BCS berth is still there for the Gamecocks, but we'll see just how resilient this team is going forward.
6. Texas A&M (7-2; LW: 6): We wanted to see what the Aggies could do against a decent defense, and they didn't disappoint with their thrashing of Mississippi State over the weekend. A&M went on the road and sent the Bulldogs to the showers early. Johnny Manziel continues to be the conference's most exciting player and he has this offense overflowing with confidence heading into the Alabama game. After what we saw in the LSU game, the Aggies have the talent on offense to give Alabama's defense real fits.
7. Mississippi State (7-2; LW: 7): It's clear that these Bulldogs aren't who we thought they were. After a soft first-half schedule, Mississippi State has been blown out in back-to-back weeks by top SEC West opponents. The defense has been gashed and just isn't getting any pressure up front from that defensive line. Offensively, there hasn't been any consistency in the past two weeks and there are a lot of glaring issues this team has to work out in a tough month of November.
8. Vanderbilt (5-4; LW: 9): The Commodores have won three straight and are a win away from being bowl eligible. Vandy has never played in back-to-back bowl games, and a win over Ole Miss would secure another postseason berth for this team. Vandy clobbered lowly Kentucky over the weekend and we're starting to see the similar offensive attack we saw from this team last year. The Commodores aren't just going for six wins, and the talent is there for this team to get a few more wins in November.
9. Ole Miss (5-4; LW: 8): After taking an early 10-point lead against Georgia, the Rebels were run out of Athens. The high-octane offense was silenced and the defense was picked apart. The good news for Ole Miss is that the loss didn't end its bowl hopes. There are still chances to get that last win, but this team can't turn the ball over as it did against the Bulldogs. Those mistakes made it impossible for Ole Miss to come back. The Rebels will look to end a two-game losing streak to Vanderbilt Saturday.
10. Arkansas (4-5; LW: 11): After a close win over Tulsa, the Razorbacks are still in the bowl hunt. With a tough slate remaining, those bowl hopes are slim, but they aren't gone. This team has been schizophrenic throughout the year, which has made watching it so frustrating in Fayetteville. The Hogs now have to take on a rested South Carolina team that still has a ton to play for this year.
11. Tennessee (4-5; LW: 12): The Vols ended an ugly four-game losing streak with a too-close-for-comfort win over Troy Saturday. That win probably didn't do much to douse the flames around Derek Dooley's seat, but it did give Tennessee a crucial win as it tries to get back to a bowl game. There's still a chance that this team could get to eight wins, but it has to sweep November and win its bowl. It also has to find a lot of answers for that dreadful defense.
12. Missouri (4-5; LW: 10): The Tigers' defense has no reason to sulk about its performance over the weekend against Florida. That group of Tigers played its tail off, limiting the Gators to only 276 total yards and 14 points. But the anemic offense couldn't get anything going against Florida's defense. It definitely didn't help that quarterback James Franklin threw four interceptions, including one deep inside Florida territory with a chance to send the game into overtime. This offense has drastically regressed and just isn't getting any better.
13. Auburn (2-7; LW: 13): Behind an extremely efficient running game and new starting quarterback Jonathan Wallace, the Tigers grabbed their second win of the season over the weekend against New Mexico State. It wasn't the toughest opponent, but a win is a win and the Tigers desperately needed it. So did coach Gene Chizik, who is really feeling the heat on the Plains. A loss, and he might not be Auburn's coach this morning. This team still has a long way to go, but this win had to have added a little juice to a team in need of some sort of spark.
14. Kentucky (1-9; LW: 14): All of the Wildcats' struggles finally came to a head this past weekend when coach Joker Phillips was fired after Kentucky's 40-0 loss at home to Vanderbilt. The Wildcats were buried at the bottom of the SEC in all major offensive and defensive categories and nothing was getting better on the field. Injuries crippled this team, but there wasn't enough improvement in games and athletic director Mitch Barnhart had to go in another direction. Kentucky now gets a head start on searching for a new coach.