The Poorest of the Poor
14. Missouri (4-4): After scoring a combined nine points in its last two games, and losing four of its last five, Missouri decided that Matty Mauk will return to the team. I’m not sold that Tom Brady could step into that offense and make a difference, so only a year removed from defending its SEC East crown, Missouri finds itself in the cellar of the conference.
13. Vanderbilt (3-4): Derek Mason finally found himself a conference win, and the ‘Dores finally have some positive momentum headed into the final week of the season. The story for Vandy all season has been one of a competent defense failing to fully bail out a miserably incompetent offense. If the ‘Dores can find some semblance of an offense they may just be able to find one more W on the schedule, but their schedule is a tough one.
12. South Carolina (3-4): South Carolina was off this weekend, so the Gamecock faithful were able to concentrate on their coaching search…which is basically all they have left.
The Middle Class of Mediocrity
11. Kentucky (4-3): Kentucky finds itself in an all too familiar situation heading into the final stretch of the season, a promising start leading to disappointment. The Wildcats should have two semi-easy wins left on their schedule in Vanderbilt and Charlotte to finally reach bowl eligibility, but this team always finds ways to completely implode in November. A win over Tennessee this Saturday in Lexington would qualify as one of the most important wins in recent UK history.
10. Auburn (4-3): Things are going really, really poorly for Gus Malzahn on the plains, and with dates in the upcoming weeks against Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama, it could get worse. Auburn managed to lose to an almost equally hapless Arkansas team last week, and Malzahn will be squarely on the hot seat entering the offseason.
9. Arkansas (3-4): Bret Bielema is a guy who I wonder might ponder a move to an open job, if not sooner than later. He has the chops to coach anyone, but is finding out that recruiting to Arkansas puts you at a disadvantage, especially in the SEC West. The Razorbacks still have to play LSU and Ole Miss, but if they can split those two then beat Missouri they’ll finish with a nice record in Bielema’s third year.
8. Georgia (5-2): Mark Richt is going to beat Florida isn’t he? It would be the most classic of Mark Richt moves. Giving his team a signature win that would make it all the more difficult for his job to be in peril, all the while leaving Dawg fans once again wondering what if? Georgia barely escaped with a win over Missouri, so the Bulldogs are awful. Doesn’t matter, because it’s Mark Richt, they will somehow beat Florida.
7. Tennessee (3-4): Another close loss for Butch Jones, but potentially another step forward for the eternal bridesmaid Volunteer fan base. Tennessee is now through the brutal October stretch of its schedule and will be favored in its final five games. If Jones can win out, he’ll take the Vols another step forward, and should generate a cautious buzz moving into the 2016 season.
Suburbanites with Massive Credit Card Debt
6. Mississippi State (6-2): The Bulldogs put a pretty serious hurting on Kentucky last week, and at 4-2 are still in contention to reach Atlanta. It continues to be amazing to me that Dan Mullen is in Starkville. He’s done a really impressive job of keeping that program playing at a high level. Mississippi State still has to face Alabama and Ole Miss, but the Bulldogs are playing their best ball of the season.
5. Texas A&M (6-2): In the midst of growing controversy on the sidelines, Kevin Sumlin’s Aggies have been outscored 64-26 in their last two games against Ole Miss and Alabama, neither of which were really ever in reach. I think Sumlin would have been a name tossed around for the Southern Cal job, but the current free fall in College Station might eliminate that. Things need to be fixed, and fixed fast for A&M to hold its position on the Power Ranking.
4. Ole Miss (6-2): The Rebel Bears bounced back effectively from what could have been a season-deflating loss to Memphis, and trounced Texas A&M. Hugh Freeze is once again dealing with injuries across his roster, and has a brutal schedule down the stretch against Auburn, LSU, Arkansas and Mississippi State. It will be interesting to see if Ole Miss can finally finish a season as strongly as it starts one.
3. Florida (6-1): Treon Harris put up an admirable fight against LSU, but Florida ultimately lost its first game of the season in Baton Rouge. After a week off, the Gators play host to struggling Georgia and need a win to keep a secure lock on the top spot in the East. I mentioned earlier that Georgia feels destined to win this game, because Georgia, and if Florida loses the Vols still have an outside shot at Atlanta.
2. Alabama (7-1): Credit to the Tide where it’s due; Tennessee threw the kitchen sink at Nick Saban and his staff in Tuscaloosa last week and an obviously tired Alabama team found a way to win. Most consider Alabama to be one of the best teams in the nation, but as is often the case, the Tide will need to beat LSU to prove it.
1. LSU (7-0): You’ve probably read the storyline by now that every four years LSU competes for a national title, and this happens to be their fourth year out from the last one. The Tigers have two weeks to prepare for Alabama, the same two weeks Alabama has to prepare for LSU (sports!), the biggest SEC game of the year. Leonard Fournette is sitting pretty for the Heisman, and the Mad Hatter feels unbeatable once again.