New teams, new storylines
The SEC expanded from 12 to 14 teams in the offseason, bringing in Texas A&M and Mizzou in highly publicized and highly anticipated moves.
As much as fans of all 14 schools were excited for the upcoming season, few foresaw what took place over the weekend: The Aggies took down No. 1 Alabama and Mizzou overtook Tennessee in quadruple overtime.
Talk about making an early mark on the league.
Missouri's efforts, in fact, is likely the straw that broke the camel's back in Vols coach Derek Dooley's reign on the program.
All that being said, where do these unpredictable finishes slot them amongst the conference's historically elite?
Only one way to find out, boys and girls.
14. Kentucky Wildcats (Last Week: 14)
The only thing standing between this squad and a 10th loss over the weekend was a bye.
The coaching search is on after Joker Phillips led this program directly into the ground after taking over three years ago.
Need we say more?
Check back in after a new coach is hired and he has had three years himself to pick up the pieces of this mess.
Until then, it is eternally No. 14 (the only time you will find this program on any ‘Rankings’ list, really) for a school that is relieved to finally be getting basketball under way.
13. Auburn Tigers (LW: 13)
Like Kentucky, the coaching search is on at Auburn. Unlike Kentucky, however, fans of the Tigers have watched their program nosedive after winning the 2010 BCS National Championship.
How bad have things gotten for War Eagle?
On Saturday, soon-to-be former coach Gene Chizik’s squad was shut out by Georgia for the first time in the rivalry since 1976.
The only cheers from the Auburn fans in attendance came when the scoreboard showed in-state, dreaded rival Alabama’s loss to Texas A&M.
It has been that kind of a season for a crew that could only muster 57 rushing yards against the Dawgs en route to an 0-7 start to conference play.
12. Tennessee Volunteers (LW: 12)
Coach Derek Dooley’s squad is far and away the most talented of the three winless teams remaining in the SEC.
After taking South Carolina down to the wire, losing 38-35 on the Gamecocks’ home field two weeks ago, quarterback Tyler Bray continued to pile up the numbers at home against Missouri.
However, his 404 passing yards and four touchdowns were not enough as this incredibly hard-luck program lost in quadruple overtime to the Tigers, 51-48, in front of a home crowd that is sick and tired of seeing the worst of the worst each and every week.
Never fear, Vols Nation, the final game of the regular season comes against Kentucky – by then it’ll be time to take out a season’s worth of frustrations.
11. Ole Miss Rebels (LW: 10)
With all due respect to first year coach Hugh Freeze and his vastly improved squad, the Rebels simply are not talented enough to be considered any sort of ‘good’ until Freeze has had a real chance to recruit in the offseason.
Two weeks ago this team was 5-3, having more than bested the total of two wins this program put together under Houston Nutt in 2011.
However, since that time, Freeze’s bunch has been exposed defensively, being blown out at Georgia, 37-10, and on Saturday wasting a career night from quarterback Bo Wallace. The sophomore completed 31-of-49 passes for 403 yards while passing and rushing for one score each.
However, the Rebels lost by a measly point to Vanderbilt, 27-26, at home.
Gotta protect that house!
10. Arkansas Razorbacks (LW: 11)
If anything is apparent now in this debacle of a season, it is that former coach Bobby Petrino had done a heck of a job recruiting talented players.
Tyler Wilson is 19th in the nation with 302.6 passing yards per game, but even his studliness under center has not been able to overcome the type of dim-witted coaching usually only seen around Lexington or Auburn.
Too harsh? Possibly, but Arky’s athletic department (not to mention its ticked-off fan base) would be inclined to agree, especially seeing as the search for a new coach was on well before the Razorbacks got trounced by South Carolina on Saturday, 38-20.
9. Missouri Tigers (LW: 9)
If this week’s Rankings were all about exciting finishes, you can bet that Mizzou would be at or near the top of this list.
This season, going on the road and beating an embarrassing Tennessee team has not been generally a cause for celebration.
However, coach Gary Pinkel’s squad has crawled back to respectability with the Tigers’ second in-conference win of the season, and in quadruple overtime, no less.
Practically as important as the ‘W’ was the play of quarterback James Franklin, who tossed four touchdowns on 19-of-32 passing with 226 yards. Franklin spent much of the season hurt/acting like a baby. If the junior has finally manned up in the SEC, he could be poised for a big senior year. Until then, however, he and his teammates will have to continue to scrap their way towards a lower-tier bowl game with a home contest against two teams that were busy on Saturday beating undefeated teams.
Next week, Mizzou hosts a Syracuse squad coming off an upset of then-No. 9 Louisville, and in two weeks the Tigers hit the road to face an Aggies squad that has enjoyed a far smoother transition to the SEC than has Missouri. A&M spent their Saturday upsetting Alabama, the former class of the conference.
8. Mississippi State Bulldogs (LW: 7)
The free-fall of the once undefeated Bulldogs continues. After opening up the 2012 season with a 7-0 record, its first such win-loss mark since 1999, coach Dan Mullen’s squad has blown three straight games, all against opponents that weren’t trotting out high school-level talent.
After taking down the likes of Jackson State and Kentucky to jump out to its stellar winning streak, Mississippi State has been put in its place by Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU on consecutive weekends to drop out of the BCS top 25.
Ladarius Perkins, Mullen’s running back, had harbored faint Heisman hopes early in the year, but after rushing for 38 yards against Bama and 42 against the Aggies, he was held out altogether against LSU.
The word out of the locker room was a strained hamstring, but if his pride was wounded a bit as well we would not at all be surprised. The pride of this entire program should be called into question right now.
Information and statistics from ESPN.com were used in this article.
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