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SEC Power Rankings: The Beat FL Edition

SEC Championship Trophy

Greetings and salutations. And welcome to another edition of SEC Power Rankings. You know, this deal’s supposed to get easier as time goes by, but Mizzou. BOOM. Way harder. At least in the East.

Oh well, though. At least the bottom is still easy to pick.

14. Vanderbilt

Another week, another loss for the Commodores. They went against Kentucky and man, was it ever a snoozer. There’s really no need to go on any longer here when I could just hop over and continue it under…

13. Kentucky

Last week I predicted a drubbing. But I was wrong. It was 17-7 at the half and there it would remain. Can you imagine watching that scoreless second half? That’d be like some type of punishment or something.

Given their performance against Vanderbilt, and given their most impressive showing came against a team in Florida that seems to be struggling, there might have been too much made about Kentucky’s upgrade in talent. Like many teams in the SEC (especially the East), we’re going to need more time to pass before we truly know where they are.

12. Florida (-2)

RTI is still looking into rumors that Florida has changed its fight song to “London Bridge is Falling Down.”

That’s not very nice. But I’m in an ornery mood so, I dunno, my bad, I guess.

All kidding aside, the more people talk about Florida’s demise, and the more people contend that Muschamp isn’t going to survive the season, the more scared I become of this team. Because it’s not like Florida doesn’t have pride. It’s not like they’re void of talent. Plus, it’s not like they don’t have history on their side.

HOWEVER… I’ve given this game a ton of thought. And I believe the oddsmakers have it right in that this is going to be a close game. Which is why…

11. Tennessee (-1)

I have both teams right beside each other in the rankings.

Here’s the deal: as respectful as I am of “the streak,” as cognizant as I am of the fact that Florida will likely come out with their hair on fire, and as much as I understand that UT has very real limitations in some key areas, I still can’t get past a few things.

First, Florida is coming off a 4-8 season. Next, they’ve looked far from impressive this year. Sure, the Vols fell in Norman, and sure, they lost in Athens, but they still looked pretty darn good at times in both contests. Particularly Georgia. And let’s not forget, they beat a couple decent teams in Utah State and Arkansas State. The only time Florida looked good this year was against a team that got its ass kicked by a wall. Were it not for a bad call in the first overtime against Kentucky, the Gators could well stand at 1-2. 

Then there’s this: The RTI boys and I compared Tennessee’s 35-point loss last October against Alabama with Florida’s 21-point loss in Tuscaloosa two Saturdays ago. While it’s tough to compare different years, if anything, the Vols get shafted in this exercise, as No. 1 ranked Alabama in October of 2013 was a lot more established and stable than the No. 3 ranked Alabama of a fortnight ago. Plus, the Vols were led by Dobbs for a good portion of that contest — his college debut.

Still, he, along with Worley, managed to muster up more yards against Bama than Jeff Driskel (322 vs 200). Tennessee’s defense allowed the Tide to roll up 479 yards. While that’s nothing to brag about, it’s a downright boast compared to the 645 Florida allowed.

Point? There’s nothing that makes me think Florida is a better team than Tennessee. Not last season. Not this season. Not the benchmark of Alabama. And were it not for the fact that the Vols haven’t beaten the Gators in TEN years, this pick would be a layup. But it’s not a layup. It’s a tough pick. But I’ve made one that I’m standing behind.

Vols win, y’all. And end the streak.

Last note on this one: I wrote a piece that looks at this game in a different light, one that talks about an undeniable benefit that’s come from the Vols’ struggles since 04. To read it, click HERE.

No 10. South Carolina (-5)

Good Lord, South Carolina. Look at yourself. How did you land in the tenth spot?

I’ll tell you how. This team’s like its coach. Legend that he is, one has to question how much fire Spurrier has left. It would seem impossible for him to care as much now, in the twilight of his career, as he did back in his heyday. He’s still intense, but he seems to come in and out of that intensity.

Just like his team.

9. Arkansas

I can hear the haters now. “I can’t believe you have South Carolina and Arkansas ahead of UT.”

1.) SC beat UGA. UT did not.
2.) Arkansas took a top 10 team to overtime. They also played a top 5 team tougher than anyone dreamed. Their running attack is nasty. Who knows if they’re for real — they’re off to a pretty decent start — but they, the last ranked team of the West, deserve to be ahead of five teams from the East.

Because the East is that big of a clown car.

8. Mizzou (+4)

I alluded to it last week. That, yeah, they had a horrible loss against Indiana, but Mizzou continues to get zero respect. And that such disrespect seems to work for them. Hard to believe they have the inside track in the SEC East, but that’s exactly the scenario.

Till Georgia comes calling the next week. Then we’ll see what’s what. Vol fans want Mizzou in that one, because that increases the chances of a 2-win team taking the East. Which is what I believe will happen. Not sold on Mizzou, and they looked awful for most of the game vs. SC. But they won late, scoring two fourth quarter touchdowns on the road. At night. That’s tough to do.

7. LSU (+1)

Here’s another bottom-tiered West team that would be right in the thick of things were they in the East. LSU has played two pretty good teams. They had huge comebacks in both, one successful in Wisconsin on a neutral field. One unsuccessful against Mississippi State in Death Valley at night. But they’d spotted Mississippi State way too many points in that one. The key question is this: was it just an off night, or is that who LSU is?

The answer will come at the direction of a freshman quarterback when LSU visits the Plains to take on Auburn, one of three top-25 SEC matchups on Saturday.

6. Ole Miss

Some have Ole Miss ahead of Georgia. (I can only presume it’s because the Bulldogs have a loss while Ole Miss does not.) But some are wrong. Because Todd Gurley trumps Bo Wallace. Plus, the Rebels had their hands full with Memphis. Not that there’s a ton of shame in that. Memphis actually has a pretty good defense, coming off back to back seasons where they were ranked in the top 40 defensively. They might have been guilty of looking ahead to Alabama, the second of this week’s three top-25 matchups. But instead, I think it’s this — when the competition level is decent, Bo Wallace isn’t.

He’d better be decent and then some on Saturday when the Tide come to Oxford in what will be SEC Gameday’s first ever experience in The Grove.

5. UGA

So there it is. The biggest, baddest team in the East sits at No. 5 in this week’s RTI SEC Power Rankings. Woo hoo. Remember back in the day when the winner of the East could pretty much show up in Atlanta and take home the trophy? Long gone are such days. The Bulldogs have a few holes, but they’ve also got Todd Gurley. And they’re a yip away from being a top-5 ranked team in the nation.

4. Mississippi State

I might be guilty of being a huge Dak Prescott honk. I’ve been following him closely since he was splitting time with Tyler Russell last year, always wondering why he wasn’t the man. Till he was. Which he’s continued to be. The man, that is.

De’Runnya Wilson leads the SEC in first names and is also one hell of a wide receiver. Throw in the 17th ranked scoring defense, and it’s clear that Dan Mullen has this team as good as it’s been in quite sometime. Their ranked fourth this week’s power rankings, but they’ll be third next week because they’re going to beat Texas A&M in the third top-25 intra-conference matchup.

I’m still mad that game kicks at the same time as UT-FL because it’s one I’d really love to see live.

3. Texas A&M

Those of you who read this column every week? I want you both to know that the Texas A&M fan who keeps trolling me is still at it. So I went HARD on the counter troll last Saturday with an unrelenting barrage of texts when the Aggies were down 14 in the fourth. Jinx.

The Aggies got away by the skin of their teeth. Appropriate that on the clinching play, they did something they couldn’t do all day. Stop the Arkansas run. Now the question becomes can they stop Dak Prescott?

2. Auburn

Good news: Auburn looked good this week.
Bad news: It was against La Tech, so who cares.
Best news yet: They play LSU at home on Saturday night.

We’ll finally get to see what they’ve got. Must see TV right there.

1. Alabama

Which leaves Alabama as the No. 1 team in this week’s SEC Power Rankings. The Tide had an off week to get ready for the Rebels. Which means Kiffin probably talked a lot to his offense about ball security. If they get that buttoned down, look out. I predict Bama rolls in Oxford. On both sides of the ball.

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