It's an SEC world out there, everyone else is just living in it
Another week is in the books, and there were quite a few shakeups around the SEC.
That’s just what happens when you are competing for a BCS National Championship each and every week in the conference where the winner plays for a certain crystal ball.
One specific team flexed its muscle against a team that still has a long ways to go, another continued its baffling spiral towards every possible negative adjective in the thesaurus, and, of course, Florida played Georgia in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.
In a conference where seven of the 14 teams are already bowl-eligible after only eight games played, things might tend to get a bit crowded at the top. Rest assured, however, one team reigns supreme after this weekend.
Who had fun, and which fan base must suffer through this slideshow knowing their team has slipped down the rankings from elite to merely really, really good?
There’s only one way to find out, now isn’t there? Yes, we are looking at you this week, Gator Nation.
14. Kentucky Wildcats (LW: 14)
Coach Joker Phillips’ crew was not only slated to play an SEC game at home, but first-year members of the league, the Missouri Tigers, were scheduled to lug their 0-4 conference record into Commonwealth Stadium.
A few, but not many, members of the sports media actually dubbed this weekend as possibly the best chance for Phillips and his Wildcats to earn their first conference victory of the season.
Then, of course, the teams actually kicked off.
Fast forward three-some hours and sixty minutes of actual game play, and once again the program was embarrassing itself in front of however many home faithful have actually remained, well, faithful to this football team.
Down 17-10 at halftime, instead of coming out all fired up and what not, these guys laid an egg. Outscored 16-zip in the second half, these ‘Cats want nothing to do with wins it seems.
Maybe they just enjoy the distinction of being the worst program in the nation’s best conference.
13. Auburn Tigers (LW: 13)
If it was not for Kentucky and a Cam Newton-fueled 2010 National Championship, these toothless Tigers would very well be dwelling in these Rankings’ cellar.
As it is, these football players are still students. If we had to grade their performance on the field in Saturday’s 63-21 home embarrassment at the hands of Texas A&M, surely an ‘F-minus’ (luckily we are allowed to dole out fictional grades for fictional situations) would be in order.
For a team that at least had expectations of making some sort of bowl game in 2012, an 0-6 start to its SEC campaign is not at all what the doctor ordered for this rabid fan base.
12. Arkansas Razorbacks (LW: 9)
Interim coach John L. Smith may have gotten his squad to compete and take home two SEC victories, but they came against Kentucky and Auburn (have we thrashed those two programs enough for you yet? If not, we can always do more; they really stink).
With a home game against an Ole Miss program that had only earned its first SEC win in 16 attempts a few weeks’ prior – also against a garbage Auburn bunch – quarterback Tyler Wilson did everything he could to fend off the inevitable. However, the Hogs indeed found a way to snag defeat from the jaws of victory in the final moments despite 297 yards and two scores from their leader.
After a gimme against Tulsa next week, these dudes face South Carolina, a ticked off Mississippi State team, and LSU. Good luck, Mr. Smith … maybe (read: definitely) get your resume updated?
11. Missouri Tigers (LW: 12)
Led by running back Kendial Lawrence, who piled up 108 yards and two scores, coach Gary Pinkel’s finest finally broke through with their first win as members of the Southeastern Conference.
However, that ‘W’ could not keep them from climbing very far in the Power Rankings, as beating up on a defenseless Kentucky team is on par with literally taking candy from a baby: It makes for a nice metaphor, but who would really steal candy from a baby? Kim Jong Il? I bet he used to take candy from babies all the time.
But we digress.
A bowl is in reach for this 4-4 squad, and if these Tigers continue to show a bit of bite next weekend against a devastated Florida squad it will shoot up these rankings.
For now, however, these newbies have got to know their role, and thus the No. 11 ranking.
10. Tennessee Volunteers (LW: 10)
So close, yet so very, very far.
Once again, the Volunteers suffer a loss and once again, this program remains a respected and talented bunch of student-athletes.
Quarterback Tyler Bray - O’ he of the majestic throwing arm - finally learned how to play an entire sixty minutes on the road against a desperate South Carolina team on Saturday. As has been the case all season, however, his efforts and those of his coach, Derek Dooley, were simply too little, or came far too late for a team now sitting at 0-5 in the SEC.
Does it sound like we feel bad for them? If there is any sentimentality in these words, Volunteers fans are angry enough to counteract any positive notions towards Bray, Dooley and everyone else involved with the Tennessee football program.
The Vols’ final three SEC games come against Vandy, Mizzou and Kentucky. No matter what happens, expect major changes sooner rather than later with these fellas.
9. Vanderbilt Commodores (LW: 8)
The ‘Dores slip from No. 8 to No. 9 has nothing so much to do with their play, but rather the team it faced over the weekend.
Coach James Franklin and his team may have been able to bask in the glow of a blowout win in front of an excited home crowd, but a 49-7 win over a currently 0-8 Massachusetts squad is a lot like taking candy from a baby (didn’t we use that metaphor already?).
Now with four wins on the season, there is a great chance running back Zac Stacy – who sustained a minor injury in the blowout – leads this team to a bowl game; however, there are not very many schools left on its schedule against which Vandy can flex some real muscle.
8. Ole Miss Rebels (LW: 11)
For the longest time, it didn’t seem like these players had any idea at all that there just might be a difference between their you-know-whats and their earholes.
Now however, with five wins overall following a 2-10 2011 campaign, this program is breaking out of the mold, and first year coach Hugh Freeze is the one leading the way.
The team had lost 16-straight SEC games, but a win against Auburn seems to be the cure for all ills. Following a bye week the Rebels went into Hog Town and won a thriller over Arkansas.
Eli Manning is probably the most recent Rebel to make national headlines. This squad won’t be doing anything like that, but Freeze has them on the right track.
7. Mississippi State Bulldogs (LW: 4)
Through this program’s dream-come-true of a 7-0 start to the season, the Bulldogs’ only SEC games (and wins) were against Kentucky, Auburn and Tennessee.
You don’t even want to know how fluffy its out-of-conference schedule played out.
With that said, an undefeated start is exactly that and after climbing all the way to No. 11 in the BCS Polls, an away date against the mighty Crimson Tide would be a true barometer of where this team stood.
Well, perhaps quarterback Tyler Russell and his buddies were a bit in over their heads in getting elephant stomped, 38-7, but there is still talent on this squad.
Coach Dan Mullan has simply got to teach his team, after years of losing, how to break through.
He will have ample opportunity to do exactly that, with games against Texas A&M and LSU in its next two weeks.
Should Ladarius Perkins put up another 38-rushing yard performance like he did against Bama, however, expect yet another drop in the rankings (not too far, however, as it is just not possible to be any worse than the likes of Auburn and Kentucky).
6. Texas A&M Aggies (LW: 7)
Is there a player in college football that has more potential to dominate than does redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel?
He and his Aggies mates rebounded nicely from a tough loss at the hands of SEC big boys LSU with a blowout road win at Auburn, 63-21. Remember how we said we just might be ripping on the likes of Auburn and Kentucky enough?
Well, ‘Johnny Football’ just gave us all one more reason to tease potentially former Auburn coach Gene Chizik. Mr. Chizik, his wife, his family, and his extended family all knew that Manziel was going to win with the ball in his hands.
Everyone in the stadium knew it.
Nevertheless, whatever game plan Chizik put together was woefully ignorant of this one, nearly irrefutable fact of Texas A&M football: 260 passing yards, 90 rushing yards and five total touchdowns can attest to that fact.
The 12th Man travels to Mississippi State in a Battle of the Still Unprovens. Whomever wins will claim a real stake on conference legitimacy.
In just its first year in the SEC, that is far more than Missouri can say for itself.
5. South Carolina (LW: 6)
After blowing out Georgia weeks ago, coach Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks fell flat on its face in losses to LSU and Florida.
On Saturday, the team finally turned things around in a tit-for-tat, 38-35 home win over a talented, yet underachieving, Tennessee squad.
However, at what cost does this win come at?
Superstar running back Marcus Lattimore, arguably the most important player in the SEC in terms of how heavily the team relies on him (along with A&M’s Manziel), went down with one of the ugliest knee injuries yours truly has ever seen.
The Ol’ Ball Coach is going to have to pull a few more tricks out of his visor if he is going to round his squad back into dominant form following this devastating loss.
4. Florida Gators (LW: 2)
Well, all good things must eventually come to an end, as stated by every ‘Negative Nancy’ in the history of history.
Apparently, that includes improbable and undefeated college football seasons.
After opening the season with uncharacteristically low expectations for one of the nation’s most storied programs, coach Will Muschamp’s team skyrocketed all the way to No. 2 in the BCS polls after ripping off seven-straight wins and six-straight SEC victories to start the season.
Then, Georgia crashed the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, killing Florida’s SEC championship buzz and its fan’s – you guessed it – buzz.
The Gators’ six turnovers for the game were two more than the team had committed in total on the season, but there is no time to rest for the heartbroken, as Mizzou comes to The Swamp for the first time as SEC foes and riding the wave of its first conference win.
Gator Nation is hoping its finest take out a bit of frustration on the newbies.
3. LSU Tigers (LW: 3)
A few folks around the country have LSU slated higher than a certain Mark Richt-led bunch, but until the Tigers show they can move the football through the air, even a teensy-tiny bit, the team will still have a massive weakness in its game.
What do we all know that SEC teams do best?
Exploit weaknesses, but of course.
With a week off to get healthy and prepare for another heavyweight battle with Alabama, one presumes coach Les Miles worked diligently with quarterback Zac Mettenberger.
If not, there wasn’t any reason to even list this crew as highly as we have in the first place.
2. Georgia Bulldogs (LW: 5)
Talk about timely quotes, timely turnovers, timely coaching and timely victories.
With a coach in Mark Richt eternally on the hot seat and coming off of two poor defensive performances, safety and defensive leader Shawn Williams took the liberty of telling the national media that he thought his teammates were ‘soft’.
Instead of dunking his head into a toilet, superstar and resident Georgia baller Jarvis Jones and the rest of the ‘Dawgs defense took his words as a challenge.
How many times do teams allow a season-high in points to Kentucky (in Georgia’s 29-24 win) and then force six turnovers against the nation’s No. 2 football team?
We’ll get our stats guys on it, but for now, we’ll just call their performance good enough to shoot the new SEC East leaders up to No. 2 in our Rankings.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide (LW: 1)
Mississippi State had not lost a game all season.
Neither had the Tide.
After sixty minutes of game play, the defending national champions and current-No. 1 had buried the No. 11 team in the land, 38-7.
We could give you stats, but really, at this point, do you really need statistics to comprehend the dominance of Nick Saban’s team?
No, no you don’t.
8-0. 'Nuff said.
How would you rank the teams? Let us know in the comments below!
Information and statistics sourced from ESPN.com.
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