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MrSEC.com’s Power Rankings – 10/16/12

Week Seven is in the books — or down the drain depending on which hot-seated coach you pull for — and there’s been a lot of moving up and down our Power Rankings’ chart.  Example: Check out the race for the basement in the SEC East right now.

As usual, we’ve placed each of the SEC’s 14 teams into one of four different categories.  Inside those categories, we list the teams alphabetically.  This isn’t the 1-14 simple list that everyone else does.  We like to be a little different.

Our rankings are based upon how well teams are currently playing, what they’ve accomplished to date, and what we believe each squad’s ceiling to be at this moment.

 

So without further ado, here’s this week’s MrSEC.com Power Rankings:

 

National Title Contender

Alabama (6-0) – Yawn.  Alabama body-slammed Missouri — literally and figuratively — last Saturday in Columbia and then learned on Sunday that they’re on top of this year’s first BCS rankings.  Same old story, same old song and dance.  Quarterback AJ McCarron banged up his knee, but he was apparently in good enough shape after the game to do this.  The Tide’s still rolling.

Florida (6-0) – The Gators didn’t look too hot on Saturday night at Vanderbilt, but I think that was a trap game wedged between emotional tilts with LSU and South Carolina.  Already #2 in the BCS, the Gators can really take control of things if they can best Steve Spurrier Saturday to set up a showdown with Georgia that could settle the SEC East race.

LSU (6-1) – Funny how good the Tigers can play when they’re not fumbling and tossing picks all over the yard.  Saturday’s win over Carolina was a biggie and it suddenly sets up November’s tilt with Alabama as the SEC West championship game again.  LSU still needs more consistency through the air, however.

South Carolina (6-1) — The fourth top 10 squad from the SEC to make the first BCS standings, Carolina couldn’t run the ball on LSU as Florida had done a week earlier.  But.  The Gamecocks went to Baton Rouge, failed to play their best game, and still lost only by two points.  Huge showdown this week in Gainesville as Spurrier returns to his alma mater.

 

Top 25 Contender

Georgia (5-1) — After a disappointing, brutal beatdown at the hands of South Carolina, the Bulldogs had a bye week to stew over it.  Right now UGA looks to be an all-offense kind of team and those squads just don’t win SEC or BCS championships.  Their defense will have to improve moving forward or else they’ll be good team… rather than a great one.

Mississippi State (6-0) — The best team MSU has played is currently 3-3 and looking at starting its own SEC schedule at 0-5.  So no, I’m not going to give State a ton of credit for a blowout-turned-tight win over Tennessee on Saturday.  I will, however, give them plenty of props for being a smart, fundamentally sound, well-coached squad.  The Bulldogs don’t beat themselves and while I won’t say they’ve “arrived,” they’re certainly heading in the right direction.  Check back after their game with Bama in two weeks.

Texas A&M (5-1) – Like Mississippi State, the Aggies haven’t played the toughest of schedules to date.  They also have a defense that allowed 57 points to Louisiana Tech.  That’s not a title-caliber defense.  But do they ever have an offense?  A&M’s Johnny Manziel is on pace — as we noted earlier this week — to eclipse Cam Newton’s all-time total offense mark for an SEC season.  As is the case with Dan Mullen at State, you can’t say enough about the way Kevin Sumlin has gotten his team to buy into his brand of football.

 

Bowl Game Contender

Arkansas (3-4) – Don’t look now but the Swine are looking fine after a pair of games against the SEC’s bottom-feeders.  Tyler Wilson is putting up Tyler Wilson-type numbers and the Razorback defense is showing improvements.  Ditto the Hogs’ rushing attack.  So, did John L. Smith keep this bunch together or was he simply the beneficiary of a scheduling break?  We’ll see over the next few weeks.

Ole Miss (4-3) – If you’d have told me — or probably anyone outside the Magnolia State — that Mississippi would have a winning record after seven games I’d have laughed in your face.  The youth.  The lack of depth.  Throw all that talk out the window.  Yes, the Rebels have several tough games ahead, but the fact they can actually talk about bowl possibilities right now is remarkable.  For now Hugh Freeze belongs in the Coach of the Year conversation alongside Mullen and Sumlin.

 

Basement Contender

Auburn (1-5) – The Tigers are looking terrible.  Last week’s team meeting?  No impact.  This week they’ll face Vandy in Nashville.  Then will come games with Texas A&M, New Mexico State, Georgia, Alabama A&M, and Alabama.  I think Chizik keeps his job if he can win four games (though he’d enter next year on the hottest of hot seats).  New Mexico State, Alabama A&M and Vanderbilt are the most likely wins, though I use the term “likely” very loosely.  This is an Auburn team that’s an overtime win over Louisiana-Monroe away from being oh-fer in 2012.  Switching to Scot Loeffler’s offense is looking more and more like Tommy Tuberville switching to Tony Franklin’s offense.  That didn’t end real well for anybody involved.

Kentucky (1-6) – Okay, Joker Phillips is done.  With such a young team and so many — I mean so many — injuries, I thought there might be a slight chance that AD Mitch Barnhart would stand behind the UK alum.  No more.  The Cats were obliterated by Arkansas 49-7 in less than three quarters in a storm-shortened game last weekend.  David Cutcliffe, anyone?

Missouri (3-4) – Quarterback James Franklin may or may not return when the Tigers face Kentucky in two weeks after their bye.  Mizzou fans had better hope he does.  Injuries have helped make for a sad entry into their new conference home.  When healthy, Franklin can at least provide some spark.  Without him, the Tigers are battling three other teams for the title of worst in the East.

Tennessee (3-3) – A new entry into the basement contender category, Tennessee finds itself here because of its mental state.  Derek Dooley is on a very hot seat.  Quarterback Tyler Bray took a shot at some “bandwagon” Volunteer fans after Saturday’s loss before recanting about 12 hours later.  Alabama and South Carolina are up next for UT.  Add it up and the Vols could roll into November on a four-game losing  streak with an 0-5 conference mark.  At that point, what would Tennessee’s players have to play for?  Pride?  That rarely works.

Vanderbilt (2-4) – The Commodores gave Florida all they wanted on Saturday night and they deserve credit for doing so.  VU also has a schedule that’s about to get a whole lot easier.  Still, until we see Vandy knock off Auburn at home this weekend, we’re going to leave the Dores in the basement zone.  Remember, this is a team that has just two wins on the season — one over tiny Presbyterian College and the other over a Missouri squad that lost James Franklin early in that game.  Win this week and the Dores will jump up a category on our chart.

 


8 comments
pbrstreetgang
pbrstreetgang

While not stellar, the A&M defense has not been paper thin. They played La Tech minus three starters or four off their two-deep roster and fatigue likely played a role in the team's poor second half tackling in that game. If they were in the SEC, La Tech would have one of the league's top offenses and would likely put up a lot of points on all but LSU, Fla, Bama and SC. The scores and yardage notwithstanding, the A&M offense is a concern. Contrary to "buying into" Sumlin's scheme, much of A&M's offensive production seems to come form broken plays or runs called for Manziel. They have yet to establish a running game aside from Manziel (despite a stable of proven backs and two first round picks on the O-line) and the receivers don't seem to get much separation; when they do, Manziel often fails to find them. JFF is a once in a lifetime sort of talent and he can carry a team a long way, but the rest of the offense seems to have atrophied around him.

memphispete
memphispete

You might have demoted the Vols below bowl contender a bit prematurely.  The Vols could end up as high as 7-5 going into a bowl game.  The schedule gets much easier after top 5 Bama and South Carolina inflict their pain on UT.  The Vols could easily run the table against Troy and three teams that are much worse than the Vols -  Missouri, Vandy and Kentucky.  As horrible as the defense is, the offense can score points - not something that Missouri, Vandy or Kentucky can say.

 

Yes, it will be tough to keep everyone together thru the beatings of the next two weeks.  Yes, the players-only meeting that took place this week isn't  a good sign.  And Dooley's pants have to be a very warm shade of orange.  

 

But remember that Tennessee's three losses have been to two teams that were/are in the top 5 and to a top 20 team.  Two of the three were on the road and all of them close late in the third qtr.  Hard to show progress in the win category against that schedule.  

 

 

dynamitefan2
dynamitefan2

 @memphispete interesting you mention Vandy and Missouri as being much worse and then defend TN's schedule as being tough. Vandy has lost 4 games (UGA, FLA, USC and Notrhwestern) vs 3 top 11 teams and Northwestern is 6-1. Missouri has lost 3 games vs top 11 teams (Bama, USC and UGA) and to Vandy. How is UT that much better they have beating NC st ,GA st and Akron. NC st was the only good win they have. 

memphispete
memphispete

 @dynamitefan2 Vandy lost to Georgia 48-3; whereas, UT had the ball at least twice with a chance to tie in the 4th qtr before losing 51-44.  Both lost to Florida - UT had a lead late in the 3rd qtr before blowing it; Vandy was within a TD.  Call that a wash.  Missouri lost to Georgia 41-20 and also lost to Vandy  Advantage UT on common opponents.  

 

Vandy is 109th in scoring and Missouri is 90th.  Tennessee is 24th.   The Vols are horrible on defense (93), but Vandy and Missouri aren't overwhelmingly good at 42 and 60 nationally.  

 

My bias is that UT could move the ball well enough to outscore both Missouri and Vandy while getting enough stops to win.  

 

And, again, we've also done better against common opponents.  Since we play both of them, we'll see,

 

 

BonzaiB
BonzaiB

Interesting to me, in a conference that has the constant montra of "defense wins championships," of just how average (or below average) the bottom half of the conferences defenses are (and if you throw in A&M's paper thin defense its more than 50% of the conference). The one team in the lower half whose defense has played very tough in just about every game is Vandy (the first game against the Gamecocks was a great effort, and they almost took Spurrier to the cleaner). I think their D is better than A&M's, and certainly have played much better than just about everybody else ranked below the top 25 contenders (and A&M's D). Of course, every game is different, but this is not a very good year for "SEC defenses," when you get below the top 5 or 6 defenses in the conference.

iDBrown
iDBrown

This is what you wrote about Mississippi State last week, "In four days we’re going to get a much better feel for just how good Dan Mullen’s team is.  Tennessee is hardly a title contender, but if you flip-flopped the Vols’ schedule with the Bulldogs’, it’s likely UT would be 5-0 and MSU would be 3-2.  State’s confidence is up — as it should be — after the program’s first 5-0 start since 1999, but is this team for real or just a product of an easy schedule and a great turnover margin?  We’ll start to get some more answers this weekend.  Finally." ..

 

Now, you are saying that playing Tennessee did not matter. That's pretty shoddy on your part.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

 @iDBrown 

 

I see no problem with what's written.  I said "Tennessee is hardly a title contender," but "we'll start to get some more answers this weekend."

 

Then today, I wrote this:  "The best team MSU has played is currently 3-3 and looking at starting its own SEC schedule at 0-5.  So no, I’m not going to give State a ton of credit for a blowout-turned-tight win over Tennessee on Saturday.  I will, however, give them plenty of props for being a smart, fundamentally sound, well-coached squad.  The Bulldogs don’t beat themselves and while I won’t say they’ve “arrived,” they’re certainly heading in the right direction.  Check back after their game with Bama in two weeks."

 

So, to get this straight... I said Tennessee wasn't any great team but we'd start to get some answers.  Then I wrote today that Tennessee isn't any great team.  (So I said what I'd deliver and then delivered it.)  And then I provided the answers I did get from Saturday's game in the form of one compliment after another... saying State is "a smart, fundamentally sound, well-coached squad" and that they "don't beat themselves" and are "certainly heading in the right direction."  (Again, I said what I'd deliver and then delivered it.)

 

And I also said Dan Mullen should be up for Coach of the Year honors later in the same piece.

 

If there's something shoddy here, I don't think it's my writing skills as I delivered exactly what I said I would.

 

John

 

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