Monday, November 12, 2012
SEC power rankings: Week 12
By Edward Aschoff
With Alabama going down at home to Texas A&M, the top six teams in our power rankings really could go any way at this point.
Can you put the Aggies No. 1, even though they lost at home to Florida and LSU? Is Georgia the new No. 1, even with its best win being against a Florida team that keeps regressing on offense with each week that goes by?
This was the toughest week for the power rankings, but it was just too hard for us to move Alabama from the top spot right now:
1. Alabama (9-1; last week: 1): You can't call the Tide's 29-24 loss to Texas A&M a letdown game. This team was beaten on both sides of the ball. Still, if you take a poll of people out there, most will say this is still the best team in the SEC. Does it have its issues? Yes. But it's still loaded with quality talent on both sides and if Saturday's game was played again, it might be hard to go against Alabama twice in a row. This is the only team to win at LSU this year and still controls its destiny to a BCS bowl game.
2. Georgia (9-1; LW: 2): The Bulldogs are playing their best ball of the season right now and have an argument to take the top spot in our power rankings. However, the best win Georgia has is against a Florida team that has taken some mighty steps backward on offense. It also has that ugly 35-7 loss to a South Carolina team that lost by 30 to Florida. It's hard to say what would happen if these two teams played today, but the Bulldogs are really clicking at the moment.
3. Florida (9-1; LW: 3): This was probably the toughest team to place in the power rankings. When you look at the offense, the Gators feel more like a 6, but it's hard to argue with their results. Florida went on the road and beat Texas A&M and beat both LSU and South Carolina at home. LSU and South Carolina were both ranked in the top 10 at the time. Now, LSU is playing at its best and the Aggies are one of the country's hottest teams. Florida's offense might be ugly, but this team's résumé is as impressive as anyone else's in the SEC.
4. Texas A&M (8-2; LW: 6): Talk about hot! The Aggies are burning up and quarterback Johnny Manziel is more than a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender after the win at Alabama. The Aggies not only showed that they truly belong in the SEC but they punished the nation's top team and might have eliminated the SEC from making it to the BCS title game. This team did it with its most complete game of the season and no one in the country wants to tangle with Johnny Football's crew right now. The only negatives that stick out are home losses to Florida and LSU.
5. LSU (8-2; LW: 4): It took two months, but the Tigers' offense has finally arrived. Zach Mettenberger has played very well in back-to-back games, throwing for 571 yards and three touchdowns to zero interceptions. Imagine if this Mettenberger showed up to the Swamp back in October. That win over Texas A&M just looks better and better for the Tigers, and if LSU wins out, the Tigers could be right back in contention for a BCS bowl game.
6. South Carolina (8-2; LW: 5): Life without Marcus Lattimore won't be as enjoyable for the Gamecocks, but they didn't miss much of a beat against Arkansas. South Carolina erased its recent struggles with the Razorbacks by clobbering them 38-20 over the weekend. Even without Lattimore, the Gamecocks were very balanced on offense and have a pretty solid duo in senior Kenny Miles and freshman Mike Davis. The Gamecocks feel as though they're still under the radar, but a solid bowl is in their future.
7. Vanderbilt (6-4; LW: 8): Don't look now, but the Commodores are bowl eligible for the second straight year. It looks like Vandy will make it to a bowl game in consecutive years for the first time in school history. Coach James Franklin has done a wonderful job turning things around in Nashville, and this team is good enough to finish the season with eight wins. Vandy has won four straight games and has a real chance of ending the regular season on a six-game winning streak with Tennessee and Wake Forest left.
8. Mississippi State (7-3; LW: 7): After starting the season 7-0, the Bulldogs have lost three straight and really haven't looked very competitive in each of those losses. In the past three games, Mississippi State has lost by an average of 25 points and has been outscored 113-37. Granted, this team has lost to three teams that are all currently ranked in the top 10 of the BCS standings, but the Bulldogs were really never in any of those contests. Mississippi State still has a chance at 10 wins, but it has to beat Arkansas and Ole Miss and win its bowl game. Right now, the odds are against the Bulldogs.
9. Ole Miss (5-5; LW: 9): The Rebels were the feel-good story of the SEC for most of the season, but now find themselves on a two-game losing streak. Ole Miss just can't seem to figure out Vanderbilt and now has to hope for a win in the next two weeks or the Rebels won't be going bowling. Saturday's 17-point blown lead shows how much depth is an issue for the Rebels. Ole Miss is very capable of stealing a win in the next two weeks, but it has to play better in the second half. In its past two losses, the Rebels have been outscored 44-10 in the second half.
10. Missouri (5-5; LW: 12): And just like that, these Tigers are a win away from being bowl eligible. All the offense needed to get going again was some help from Tennessee's defense. Led by banged-up quarterback James Franklin, the Tigers rang up 51 points and 454 yards on the Vols in their quadruple-overtime win in Knoxville. Mizzou showed that it has the skill on offense to move the ball consistently, but it will have to keep that momentum going with a Syracuse team that routed previously unbeaten Louisville up next before facing the Aggies.
11. Arkansas (4-6; LW: 10): History wasn't on the Hogs' side over the weekend against South Carolina. This team just didn't have much in the tank against the Gamecocks and is now a loss away from missing out on a bowl game. So much was expected from this team before the season, but the loss of Bobby Petrino was just too much for the Hogs to deal with. Arkansas players have shown heart and made a short bowl push, but most around that program probably are ready for this season to be over with.
12. Tennessee (4-6; LW: 11): This isn't what anyone in Knoxville wanted. The Vols were supposed to be competitive in the SEC East and now find themselves on the verge of not making a bowl game for the second straight season. At least Tennessee won a conference game last year. It's hard to bet on this team doing that, even with floundering Kentucky left. Derek Dooley's days as the Vols' coach are certainly numbered and the defense needs a major overhaul if there's going to be any sort of improvement. Nothing is going right for this team and it's clear a lot will look awfully different next season.
13. Auburn (2-8; LW: 13): Like Tennessee, nothing is getting better. Gene Chizik is fighting for his coaching life on the Plains, and by the way the student section looked in the second half against Georgia, few are really invested in this team right now. You thought you'd see some sort of life from the Tigers after they notched their second win of the year, but Auburn was blasted 38-0 by the Bulldogs, failing to score on Georgia for the first time since 1976. It's highly unlikely this team will be very competitive against Alabama and it seems like only a matter of when as far as change coming.
14. Kentucky (1-9; LW: 14): The Wildcats were off, but the fact remains that this team is hurting all over the place. It's not only banged up, but its offense and defense are struggling to do much of anything right this year. Joker Phillips has only two games left as Kentucky's coach, but with the way some of these other SEC teams have done, athletic director Mitch Barnhart might want to really get cracking on this coaching search before other jobs come open.