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SEC Power Rankings: Vols Strike Back Version

SEC Championship Trophy

Welcome to the very first RTI SEC Power Rankings to feature a Tennessee Volunteer team with an SEC win under its belt. And what an exciting win it was, right? Let’s jump right in.

14. Vanderbilt

The Commodores may have found a quarterback. Johnny McCrary tied a school record by throwing five touchdowns on Saturday. Which means Vanderbilt found a win. But they didn’t find an improved spot in the SEC Power Rankings. Because they played Old Dominion. And because the Dores remain winless in the SEC. The RTI crew doesn’t see that changing between now and the end of the year. They get Florida at home next week.

13. Arkansas

Another near miss for Arkansas last week as they came up just short in their valiant attempt to knock off No. 1 Mississippi State. In Starkville, no less. This team reminds me of UT in that they’re pretty doggone good for not having a conference win. (Pre South Carolina, that is.) Their draw in the East? The top 2 teams, which is very Vol-like luck.

But let’s face it, the East is WAY different than the West. And, looking back, some of the “near misses” don’t look so good anymore. Like Texas A&M for instance. Bottom line: you have to win at some point. And Arkansas simply hasn’t gotten it done. They take a big tumble down to No. 13 this week.

12. South Carolina

London Bridge is falling down.
Falling down.
Falling down.

London Bridge is falling down,
They got Butch-slapped.

I don’t mean to troll, but that’s the third time the Gamecocks have given up a two touchdown lead with 7 minutes or less to go in the game. They have to win two of their last three to go bowling. Other than Georgia, they’ve done nothing all year in the conference. And they have losses to Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee. Horrible year for Spurrier’s gang no matter how you slice it.

11. Kentucky

We’ve said it every week. Kentucky is much improved, but they weren’t the world beaters their favorable early-season schedule made them out to be. And we’re really starting to see that. They lost for the third time in successive weeks in an ugly affair against Missouri. (Though, to be fair, all Missouri games seem to be ugly regardless of who they play.) And things won’t get any easier next week when an angry Georgia team comes calling. Will Chubb work out some aggression against the Cats?

10. Tennessee

As crazy as this may sound, Tennessee, a team that was winless in the SEC this time last week, is just two plays away from a share of the lead in the SEC East. As it is, however, Vol Nation should just be happy with UT’s first SEC win which came courtesy of a truly great comeback engineered by Joshua Dobbs. (<– see what I did there?) As I wrote earlier this week: An inexperienced, banged-up offensive line is the very worst hand a pro-style quarterback and freshman tailback could ever be dealt. But with Dobbs, the deck was reshuffled. No longer did everything start with the line, but instead with the quarterback.

If his performances against Alabama and South Carolina are even remotely accurate barometers for what we can expect from Dobbs moving forward, this team’s going bowling.

9. Texas A&M

I wrote last week that A&M struck the RTI crew and me as a team that was going to continue to drop. Their 21-16 win over Louisiana Monroe did nothing but reinforce that feeling. The Trill is gone, it seems, from the Aggie season. Next week they travel to the Plains where Auburn will flat-out walk the dog on them.

Look for them to continue to drop.

8. Missouri, Georgia, Florida

The proper way to do this would be to say that these teams are tied for sixth, not eighth. But none of these teams deserves the benefit of the doubt, so in the name of splitting hairs, I’m calling them tied for eighth. What a mess the East is. UGA beats Mizzou by 34 on the road, Mizzou beats Florida by 29 on the road and Florida beat Georgia by 18 on a neutral site.

And those, ladies and gentlemen, are your top-ranked three teams in the East. A veritable clown car if there ever was one.

5. Ole Miss

If there has ever been a tougher loss than the one Ole Miss suffered on Saturday night, I’m unaware of it. With just 90 seconds remaining, their sophomore superstar has made yet another reception and dashes into the endzone for the winning score against one of the nation’s top teams to keep the Reb’s national championship hopes alive.

But the touchdown gets overruled because Laquon Treadwell loses control of the ball mere nanoseconds before breaking the plane. Which is totally forgivable since he lost control thanks to a gruesome injury that ended his season.

Thanks for coming, folks. Drive home safely.

And you thought the Ole Miss Miss was upset after LSU…

Here’s to Laquon making a speedy recovery. He’s truly one of the great ones.

4. LSU

A month ago, LSU’s season looked like it was headed for disaster. Some pegged them as the worst team in the West. Not us, though. We had them pegged as, um, the next to worst team in the west. But this week, they’re the next-to-next-to worst team in the West.

In a division like the West, however, that ain’t too shabby, as their 7-2 record would attest. They’ll have a chance to turn the national championship race on its head when they host Alabama on Saturday night in Death Valley in what should be a really good one.

3. Alabama

Like their upcoming opponent, Alabama had the week off to prepare for the showdown in Death Valley. What a brutal home stretch for the Crimson Tide. On the road against a very good LSU team before getting Mississippi State and Auburn at home. (With West Carolina sandwiched in between, but whatever.)

2. Auburn

Auburn managed to survive and advance in Oxford on Saturday night. As brutal as the loss was for Ole Miss, it’s not as if Auburn wasn’t deserving. Simply put, it was a great matchup between two great teams. And just as they did on so many occasions last season, Auburn somehow found a way to win it. They travel to College Station where they’ll try to keep the dream alive.

1. Mississippi State

Speaking of dreams, Mississippi State’s almost came crashing down to the ground. But they held on and that’s all that matters, as their dream is very much alive. Ironic that it was State’s D (ranked dead last in points allowed in the SEC) that won the game for them. They get UT Martin before things get real again in Tuscasloosa Saturday after this one.

So there you have it, kids. Enjoy the bye weekend and watch some of the great football being played around the best conference in America.

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