Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Moral Victory! Power Ratings for the SEC

Entering the 10th week of the season, here's the pecking order:
• The Big Three: The nation's top two teams, Alabama and Florida, plus LSU, the team whose only loss was to Florida
• Shaky Four: Tennessee, South Carolina, Auburn, Georgia — taking turns bouncing each other out of Top 25 contention
• Sleepy Two: Alternately powerful and lethargic, Arkansas and Ole Miss could finish the season in New Year's Day bowls — or sitting in their living rooms
• Scrappy little brothers: Miss State and Kentucky are fighting for their bowl lives, with the Bulldogs gaining the upper hand last Saturday
• Sinking ship: Commodores going nowhere, but trying to take somebody down with them

Here's a closer look:

1. Alabama: 8-0 (5-0): Gets the nod over Florida, for the time being, because of its victory of Va Tech and its thrashing of Arkansas, a team that scared the daylights out of the Gators.

2. Florida: 8-0 (6-0): Sitting pretty, as a head-to-head matchup with Bama in the SEC championship game nears reality.

3. LSU: 7-1 (4-1): Clearly the No. 3 team right now, with an opportunity to beat Bama and then Florida in the SEC championship, but Bama will be ready, and so will the Tigers' other remaining opponents Arkansas and Ole Miss.

4. Tennessee: 4-4 (3-3): The win over SC was huge, and now the Vols are bursting with confidence and contending for a New Year's bowl.

5. South Carolina: 6-3 (3-3): Lots of opportunities remain, but the Gamecocks must continue to improve on offense to avoid their annual late-season collapse.

6. Auburn 6-3 (3-3): Tigers followed their beat-down in Baton Rouge with an impressive home win over the Rebels. Now it's homecoming against Furman and then a date in Athens.

7. Georgia: 4-4 (3-3): Dawgs need to finish strong, but Ga Tech is looming and Auburn poses a major threat.

8. Ole Miss: 5-3 (2-3): Who are we going to hype next summer?

9. Arkansas: 4-4 (1-4): Not even a massacre of Eastern Michigan can erase the pain of the Ole Miss loss. Still, the Razorbacks could find themselves in a New Year's Day bowl if they finish strong.

10. Miss State: 4-5 (2-3): A very big win over Kentucky keeps the Bulldogs in the bowl hunt.

11. Kentucky: 4-4 (1-4): The Wildcats beat Auburn on the road and lose to Miss State at home. Kind of sums up the season for everybody in the SEC not named Alabama, Florida or LSU.

12. Vanderbilt: 2-7 (0-5): It'll take wins over Kentucky and Tennessee to save face for the Commodores this season. But that means a quarterback other than Larry Smith led us to victory, which would have everybody wondering why Bobby Johnson stuck with Smith for so long.

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