The SEC order of merit continues to change week-by-week. This past week was highlighted by some unexpected blow-outs in Athens and Gainesville.
It seems as though every week we are having to scrap what we thought were lessons learned from the previous week and start all over from scratch. While that’s great for the fans and the writers, it might not be so good for the conference come early December.
Let’s take a look at how are voters see the SEC this week.
LWOS College Football SEC Week 5 Power Rankings
SEC West: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss? One week after losing to Ole Miss, Alabama went gang-busters in Athens. And that Ole Miss team? They turned in a thoroughly underwhelming performance in Gainesville. Meanwhile, LSU continues to ride Leonard Fournette’s rushing performances and Texas A&M is quietly building quite the resume.
1. Alabama (29) (Tie)
Alabama returned to the top spot with a convincing win against Georgia coupled with a complete breakdown by Ole Miss against Florida. No team in the nation does more with one-loss than Alabama. It doesn’t get easier for the Tide though, as they still have tough games against undefeated LSU and Texas A&M looming on the horizon.
1. LSU (29) (Tie)
The Tigers had another ho-hum performance against a lesser opponent. The defense has been less than dominant in their early games, which is confirming some fears in Baton Rouge as fans watch for any post-Chavis dip. This, and the very average quarterback play, is why many fans and voters still aren’t sold on LSU. They’ll have their chance to prove themselves going forward.
3. Texas A&M (26)
Another team that seems to have a hard time earning credibility is Texas A&M. The Aggies have quality wins over Arizona State (who subsequently beat UCLA this past weekend), Arkansas, and Mississippi State. Are voters still have A&M 3rd in their division, however. Sumlin’s charges have had late season struggles for the past few years now and people seemingly still aren’t sold on the Aggie defense, regardless of who the defensive coordinator is. A&M is off this week, but they travel to Alabama next week for a game that could make them a Top 4 team.
4. Ole Miss (24)
What a difference a week makes for Ole Miss. After an impressive defeat of Alabama, some thought Ole Miss might be the best team in the nation. After their turn-over prone performance against Florida, they are the fourth team in their division. The defense was far less impressive and the offense couldn’t hold on to the ball. The Rebels, much like the Aggies, have been searching for a full season of consistency under their current coach; can they right the ship and finish strong this season?
5. Mississippi State (15)
It’s hard to judge the Bulldogs. Mississippi State’s two losses are to undefeated teams (LSU and Texas A&M) and they have a win over Auburn. For the Bulldogs to get climb this ladder, though, they have to start winning some of those big games against top-ranked opponents. They don’t play another SEC West game until November 14th, when Alabama comes to town. Win until then and State again has an opportunity to make a move. And oh, by the way, don’t look now but Dan Mullen might be one of the coaches that Texas starts to look at as the Charlie Strong era starts to wrap up.
6. Arkansas (11)
The Razorbacks looked like what we expected in Knoxville this weekend and picked up a much needed win. They ground game was bruising and effective, Brandon Allen did just enough, and the defense played solid, giving up only 13 points to the Tennessee offense. Has Bielema sorted things out? Can Arkansas finally find consistency and make noise in the West? As with almost everyone, this weekend’s upcoming game with Alabama will answer many of those questions.
7. Auburn (6)
Without a doubt, the most disappointing team in the nation this year. And now, with Duke Williams off the team, fans on the Plains are wondering if Auburn will even make it to a bowl. Sitting at 3-2 and with only one “confident” game left on the schedule, it’s entirely possible a preseason CFP favorite might be home for the holidays. Shaky quarterback play and an undisciplined defense have hampered the Tigers.
SEC East: In our last poll, our voters had identical ballots for five of the seven teams. This week, no two ballots were the same. The confidence in the power rankings has been shaken up. It wasn’t so much the results of some of the games, but the convincing manner in which some teams won and some teams lost. Let’s take a look:
1. Florida (35)
With probably the most surprising win of the weekend, Florida brought itself into the national conversation with another win (5-0). This time it was a thorough defeat of Top 10-ranked Ole Miss. Florida is now playing with confidence and the energy is back in the Swamp. The question with Florida is about depth and consistency with such a young team and new coaches.
2. Georgia (30)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The Bulldogs really thought this was the year. Solid quarterback play, a deadly rushing attack, and a stifling defense. That’s the championship formula, right? On top of that, an Alabama team on the decline coming into Athens for the first time in almost a decade. What better way to launch your championship run than by beating the Evil Empire? We all know what happened, and we’ve seen it many times before. Georgia has to regroup as they travel to Knoxville this weekend in what might be a classic trap game.
3. Kentucky (21)
The Wildcats were outplayed for 55 minutes on Saturday by FCS Eastern Kentucky before rallying to win in overtime. The Cats played without starting tailback and leading rusher Boom Williams. As a result, they only managed 55 yards of rushing offense. Mark Stoops’ club is now 4-1 for a second straight season and have a week off before playing the school’s first ever Thursday night home game against Auburn.
4. Tennessee (20)
The trials and tribulations continue at Tennessee. The Volunteers were up 14-0 against Arkansas and let another two-score lead disappear into the night. Joshua Dobbs hasn’t been as effective in the passing game as many had thought, and the wide receivers and defensive lines have disappointed so far this season. Tennessee has to beat Georgia this week and get on a late season roll or the program will regress from a promising finish to 2014. It’s getting pretty testy up in Knoxville these days.
5. Missouri (19)
The Tigers might be the lowest ranked 4-1 team in the nation. Matty Mauk is suspended and the team seems to have little confidence. But remember, they are the two-time defending East champions. They will get their chance to show some resiliency and get some respect as they host upstart Florida this weekend in Columbia.
6. South Carolina (8)
Here’s how bad the season is for South Carolina. They are one vote ahead of Vanderbilt in our poll. It’s a familiar theme, shaky quarterback play and a porous defense. And it doesn’t look to be getting any easier as the Gamecocks go forward. Carolina will be lucky if they get to five wins. Will Spurrier finish his career with only his second losing season?
7. Vanderbilt (7)
Vanderbilt got their second win over MTSU this weekend in typical Vandy fashion. The defense held a potent MTSU offense well below their season averages and the offense managed to do just enough to get the win. That formula won’t be good enough if the Commodores want to get a conference win for the first time in two seasons; as they face their best two opportunities to do so in South Carolina and Missouri in the next three weeks.
About this poll: Points are awarded on a sliding scale 7-1 for places 1st through 7th.
This week’s voters: Mike Loveall, Kevin McGuffey, Matt Atkinson, Charlie Taylor, and Lauren Beasley.