It is hard to believe that Georgia is still in a position to have an outside shot at the BCS title after that drubbing in Columbia. It's probably all a moot point anyway because their odds against Bama are slim at best (although, after seeing the way LSU came back, I'm a little more hopeful). What concerns me is that even if they do somehow find a way to win the SEC and other upsets fall their way, the national pundits will use the momentum of the anti-SEC bias in conjunction with the bad loss to SC to keep them out of the title game. It's a similar scenario to 2007 when Georgia should've been in line to have the #2 BCS ranking but lobbying from ESPN primarily based around a bad loss to UT dropped them below LSU. Albeit in that scenario, although the precedent had already been set twice previously, the argument that they didn't win the conference was used substantially as well.
Week Ten is in the books and there’s been a little bit of shuffling up and down our Power Rankings’ chart.
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 are this week’s MrSEC.com Power Rankings:
National Title Contender
Alabama (9-0) – Last week, we showed you that teams outside the top four in the Week Three BCS standings have a slim chance of making it into the title game. Just three teams out of 28 title contenders in the 14-year BCS era have made such a big jump in November. For that reason, Bama is now the only SEC team we believe has a legitimate shot at winning the league’s seventh straight crown. And after watching them rise from the dead in the final two minutes of Saturday’s game at Baton Rouge, it’s hard to picture anyone knocking Alabama off. Upsets happen, but there’s an air of inevitability about the 2012 Tide team. (Remaining games: Texas A&M, Western Carolina, Auburn)
Top 25 Contender
Florida (8-1) – Technically the Gators could still climb into the top two with a number of upsets elsewhere, but it’s unlikely. The fact that they have two cupcakes remaining on the docket won’t help their strength of schedule. And the fact that UF has very little passing attack doesn’t bode well for them in their season finale at Tallahassee. UF looks like a 10-2 team at the moment. (Remaining games: Louisiana-Lafayette, Jacksonville State, at Florida State)
Georgia (8-1) – The Bulldogs have had two seniors ruled out for the rest of the season due to injury this week — receiver Marlon Brown and defensive end Abry Jones. Still, UGA should wind its way through the rest of the regular season unscathed. That would likely set up a showdown with an unbeaten Alabama team in Atlanta. Win the SEC Championship Game and its possible — doubtful, but possible — that Georgia could land in the BCS Championship Game. That’s a lot of ifs. At the moment, we see an 11-2 UGA team steaming toward the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Who’d have thought that after 35-7 beatdown at South Carolina? (Remaining games: at Auburn, Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech)
LSU (7-2) – As well as the Tigers played on Saturday, it’s a shame we can’t reward them with a bump up in categories this week. For all the guff Les Miles takes for being a gambler and a bizarro quote, the man always manages to surprise. Expect the most… you might get the least (like last January’s BCS title contest). Expect the least… and he’ll get more of out of his team and his quarterback than anyone thinks possible, as he did against Bama. If the Tigers keep their heads held high and play as well moving forward as they did on Saturday, a 10-2 season looks likely. (Remaining games: Mississippi State, Ole Miss, at Arkansas)
South Carolina (7-2) – The Gamecocks have had a week off to prepare for life without running back Marcus Lattimore. If Connor Shaw throws the ball as well in the next three weeks as he did in his last outing against Tennessee, the Cocks should be fine. Trouble is, Shaw won’t be passing against Tennessee in those last three games. And on the other side of the ball, USC’s secondary isn’t quite as good as it was last year during the team’s post-Lattimore-injury roll. With two good passing offenses still left to face, we think Carolina will probably drop one more game. That said, Steve Spurrier’s bunch sure surprised us after Lattimore went down last year. (Remaining games: Arkansas, Wofford, at Clemson)
Texas A&M (7-2) – The Aggies are a tough team to peg. They’re 7-2 with a dynamite, Cam Newton-like Superman running their offense in the person of quarterback Johnny Manziel. But this is also a team that got caught up in a 59-57 shootout win over Louisiana Tech. And Louisiana Tech is no Alabama. We’re looking forward to seeing Johnny Football go head-to-head with a Bama defense that still might be smarting from the punches LSU landed against it over the weekend. An upset is possible — especially if the Tide’s players are basking in the glow of last week’s win — but we think a loss is likely. Even so, it looks to us as though Kevin Sumlin will likely lead the Aggies to a 9-3 record in the school’s first year of SEC play (and possibly a Cotton Bowl date with Texas to boot). That’s Coach of the Year type work in our book. (Remaining games: at Alabama, Sam Houston State, Missouri)
Bowl Game Contender
Arkansas (4-5) – Let’s face it, the Razorbacks will need a minor miracle to become bowl eligible. Their final three opponents are all ranked and the Hogs just haven’t shown any kind of consistency all season long. On offense or defense. Every step forward just leads to another step right back in reverse. So why do we still list them in the Bowl Contender category? We explain that below in our Basement Contender section. The Hogs are looking at a 4-8 season at worst, 5-7 with one good upset. (Remaining games: at South Carolina, at Mississippi State, LSU)
Mississippi State (7-2) – Somewhere Dan Mullen is wondering if he could find a way to add a couple of more Jackson States and South Alabamas to the Bulldogs’ schedule. That wonderful 7-0 start has now given way to a two-game losing streak. Worse, State hasn’t even been competitive against Alabama or Texas A&M the past two weeks. The Dogs’ remaining games could all be losses, to be honest, but we suspect they’ll find a way to win at least one more game, maybe two. Before the season, most State fans would have been thrilled with the prospect of a 9-3 or 8-4 season in 2012. (Remaining games: at LSU, Arkansas, at Ole Miss)
Missouri (4-5) – “Decimated by injuries.” It’s a phrase kicked around all too often in sports. All teams have injuries, but seldom is a team truly decimated by its bumps and bruises. In the case of the 2012 Missouri Tigers, however, it’s a very fitting phrase. Quarterback James Franklin has been in and out of the lineup and as it stands now, only one Mizzou offensive lineman — a freshman at that — is on pace to start all 12 Tiger games this fall. The Tigers need a pair of wins to become bowl eligible and it’s doubtful they’ll collect their third victory in a row at College Station to close out the year. That makes MU’s next two games must-wins. We see them winning one of those two, but not both. Expect a 5-7 mark at the end of a season that was truly undone by injuries. (Remaining games: at Tennessee, Syracuse, at Texas A&M)
Ole Miss (5-4) – The four FBS teams Ole Miss has beaten have a combined record of 10-26. Last week against Georgia, Mississippi got off to a hot 10-zip start only to see the Bulldogs post the game’s final 37 points. With three games remaining, it’ll only take one win to become bowl eligibility. We think Hugh Freeze’s team will get that win this weekend and we wouldn’t rule the Rebels out in their finale at home with MSU, either. Likely record: 6-6. (Remaining games: Vanderbilt, at LSU, Mississippi State)
Vanderbilt (5-4) – After an 0-2 start to the season, James Franklin has led his team to the brink of bowl eligibility. In fact, it’s possible the Dores could still finish an eye-popping 8-4. Despite Vandy’s demolition of Kentucky in Lexington on Saturday, we still believe the Dores will lose another game, probably this weekend on the road. Pencil in a 7-5 record and the school’s first-ever back-to-back bowl trips for the Commodores. (Remaining games: at Ole Miss, Tennessee, at Wake Forest)
Auburn (2-7) – There’s a reason we only list three teams in the Basement Contender category and that’s because all three of those teams are still winless in SEC play as we roll toward the second weekend of November. The Tigers got a needed win over hapless New Mexico State last weekend and Alabama A&M is still ahead on the schedule, too. But so are #1 Alabama and #5 Georgia. Can Gene Chizik somehow survive a 3-9 season? (Remaining games: Georgia, Alabama A&M, at Alabama)
Kentucky (1-9) – The curtain is closing on the three-year Joker Phillips era in Lexington. Question is: How much fight will the Wildcats put up as they say so-long to their coach? Hopefully more than they did this past weekend in a 40-0 coach-killing loss to Vanderbilt in front of a half-empty Commonwealth Stadium. Here’s guessing the Cats fall to 2-10 as AD Mitch Barnhart searches for the right guy to turn UK’s program around. (Remaining games: Samford, at Tennessee) (CORRECTION: Initially listed UK as 1-11 as yours truly rushed to finish this piece in order to head out and vote. Meant to write 2-10, the Cats should win over Samford.)
Tennessee (4-5) – Last week some Volunteer fans got mad with us and claimed that we said their team would quit. We didn’t. We said while some wonder if the team will quit, we think the Vols defense could render that point altogether moot. See: 721 yards and 48 points allowed to Troy last Saturday and you’ll know why we’re repeating that statement this week. Who knows if the Vols will fight or roll over, but their defense has shown no signs of improvement. The Vol offense is explosive enough to win a pair of home games and earn a bowl trip, but a road trip to Vanderbilt has the makings of a back-breaker for Derek Dooley. We see 6-6 on the horizon. (Remaining games: Missouri, at Vanderbilt, Kentucky)