Finally. An SEC Power Rankings where the Tennessee Volunteers get to move up a bit. Reclaim a bit of lost ground which perhaps should have never been lost to begin with.
That said, these rankings are always hard. But there are circles of logic where the transitive properties of math are rendered useless, indeed, leaving the RTI boys and I puzzled on how best to sort things out.
Translation: sometimes you
can’t rely on a chart just gotta go with your gut. And our gut says that there’s an exciting new development at the bottom of our league. A first-ever tie for last!
The Battle for the Basement
14. Vanderbilt and South Carolina (tie)
And there was much rejoicing in the land of the Commodore. Hooray, the people did shout. Another team sucks as bad as ours! I’ve said for several weeks running that Steve Spurrier was squarely in Brett Favre territory. Land reserved for once great sports figures who, for one reason or another, were on the verge of making a mockery of their once greatness. I openly wished he would retire.
I didn’t expect him to do it till the end of the year, though. And his departure makes it official. The South Carolina Gamecocks are a dumpster fire. This week, they get to compare their dumpster fire to Vanderbilt’s. Bring your marshmellows.
Walking the Plank
Good news for Tiger faithful: Auburn did not lose an SEC game this weekend. Bad news for Tiger faithful: Auburn did not have an SEC game this weekend. Nor any game for that matter. But they have one tonight in Lexington that could be very interesting. If they lose, it’s official. They’re walking the plank to disaster.
Sure, they’re 4-2, but their four wins are Southeast Missouri State, Arkansas State, South Carolina and UConn, a team they beat 9-6. I am personally offended by Missouri’s season. Particularly their offense, which paid homage to the field goal gods once again in their 21-3 loss to Florida. They get Georgia this week. God help them.
On the one hand, they hung in there against Bama on the road (with a backdoor cover that screwed yours truly), so it might be a bit harsh to put them in the Walking the Plank tier. Yet, on the other, they’ve got to get four wins in their last six games just to be bowl eligible. With Ole Miss (in Oxford), LSU (in Baton Rouge) and Mississippi State still left, that might be a tall order.
They’ve lost two straight conference games and now must face the rest of the season without their best player. Something tells me they’ll rebound, but the Bulldogs’ future, like the other teams in this tier, is riddled with uncertainty.
Good news: the Wildcats are 4-1 with a winnable game against Auburn tonight. Bad news: their schedule gets way harder, as their next three opponents are at Mississippi State, Tennessee and at Georgia. Yes, they have two conference wins and a close loss to undefeated Florida, but their season is bookmarked with two close calls against Louisiana-Lafayette and Eastern Kentucky. This team could still go either way. Tonight’s game is huge.
Yes, Arkansas beat Tennessee at home. And yes, we have Tennessee ranked ahead of them. A perfect example of the math not making sense, if you will. Given both teams’ body of work, we felt it’s justified to rank Tennessee higher. Regardless, I’ve never seen a more emotionally scared fanbase in my entire life. There wasn’t a single person around me on Saturday who was confident the Vols would win. Even after the Trevor Daniel punt that forced the Bulldogs to go 99 yards. Confession: I had a doubt or two myself. It wasn’t pretty, but in the end, Tennessee did what it had been criticized so mightily for failing to do in weeks prior: finish out a huge game and get a W. But with games looming against Bama and a dangerous Kentucky team, the Vols still have some work to do to avoid the “disappointing season” column.
6. Mississippi State
Mississippi State rounds out our Anyone’s Guess tier. They’ve already lost two SEC games, matching their total from 2014. But 2014 was a historic year for the Bulldogs, yet also one that ended with three losses in the last four games. Their two toughest remaining games are Alabama at home and the Egg Bowl. If they take care of business between now and Bama against three beatable teams (La Tech, Kentucky and Missouri), they could again find themselves on the verge of a very nice season. Time will tell.
5. Ole Miss
Ole Miss got well last week against New Mexico State, but the drubbing in Gainesville they took the week prior still has to sting a bit. Without that L, they’d be in the driver’s seat in the West. Even with it, however, their hopes of reaching Atlanta are still most certainly alive. But before dealing with the SEC, Ole Miss must first contend with a pretty solid Memphis team. At Memphis. At noon. 11am their time. I’ve got my eyes on that one.
Another example of one team ranked ahead of another despite losing the head-to-head matchup. Taken into consideration: the five turnovers and one fluke play it took for the Rebels to best Alabama. Though far from their dominant selves, Alabama will likely have a say in how the conference shakes out. They handled Arkansas routinely on Saturday, but now face a difficult four-game stretch (at A&M, Tennessee, LSU and Mississippi State) where anything can happen. All eyes turn to College Station.
Major development with the Cinderella team of SEC when we learned of Gator QB Will Grier’s suspension for the use of performance enhancement drugs. If the Gators are to make a legit run for the SEC Championship, Treon Harris, who’s no stranger to suspension himself, will have to lead the charge. And that charge will begin against…
One of two top-tier matchups this week goes down in Baton Rouge when LSU welcomes Florida to a night game that will tell a lot about both teams. Can LSU exert its will and run right down Florida’s throat? Or will Florida’s front seven be up for the task? How will Treon Harris run the Gator offense? While those questions remain to be answered, one thing’s for sure. We’re in for a treat on Saturday night.
1. Texas A&M
All of which leaves the Aggies atop the standings for now. They’ve had two weeks to prepare for the other top-tier clash in the SEC, their date with the Crimson Tide in College Station. It’s been two weeks since they took care of business against Mississippi State. If they take care of the Tide, Kevin Sumlin’s guys will have a major leg up in the West.
Enjoy the football this weekend.