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.
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.
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.