What you’ll find below are not power rankings. This is not a poll influenced by what occurred during Week One, either.
This is a simple breakdown of which SEC teams we felt put on the most impressive — and least impressive — performances in Week Two. Next week, Kentucky could be #1 and Alabama could be #12. So don’t view this as anything more than a one-week grade:
1. Alabama 27, Penn State 11 at University Park, PA — The result of the game was never in doubt. The Crimson Tide led the 23rd ranked Nittany Lions 20-3 at the end of three quarters. Going on the road and whipping a traditional power is good enough for the SEC’s top slot this week. But things still weren’t perfect for Bama. The offense improved, but it was far short of national championship caliber. Arkansas comes to town in two weeks to provide a stiffer test for the Tide D, too.
2. Auburn 41, Mississippi State 34 at Auburn — The Tiger defense gave up yard upon yard upon point upon point for the second-straight week. For those hoping for improvement on that side of the ball… no luck. On offense, Gus Malzahn did get solid play from Barrett Trotter and 235 yards of rushing from Mike Dyer and his fellow backs. But it’s AU’s never-quit attitude that makes this win so impressive. Auburn has now won 17 games in a row. The Tigers have also won 10 straight games decided by eight points or less. Auburn doesn’t have the talent or experience that it had last year, but it does seem to have the same winning attitude. Kudos to Gene Chizik and his staff for that.
3. South Carolina 45, Georgia 42 at Athens — Steve Spurrier continues to worry about his passing game, but the 11th ranked Gamecocks did everything they had to do to pull out a big road win in their SEC opener on Saturday. They forced three turnovers, scored on two of them, and logged a touchdown on a fake punt. Good teams find ways to win ugly… even when they don’t deserve to win. Ask Auburn. Winning’s all that matters in the end.
4. Tennessee 45, Cincinnati 23 at Knoxville — Tyler Bray earned SEC Player of the Week honors as he threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns (and ran for another) against the Bearcats. Star receivers Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers each grabbed 10 catches for 100+ yards, too. But the Vols still need more consistency from their ground game. Cincinnati isn’t Florida, to be sure, but the Volunteers are starting to show signs that they might be ready to climb out of their three-season funk.
5. Florida 39, UAB 0 at Gainesville — When you face a patsy, you have to thump a patsy. Florida did. John Brantley did what was asked of him which normally meant getting the ball to Chris Rainey. And Rainey did the rest. Saturday’s game between the Gators and the Vols in The Swamp will give everyone a much better idea of which of these programs is really back on the rise. The Vol run defense has been iffy and that’s bad news facing Rainey. The Gators’ corners are young and — perhaps — vulnerable. That’s bad news facing Bray and crew. The winner of UF-UT will likely be next week’s #1 on this list.
6. Mississippi State 34, Auburn 41 at Auburn — MSU went on the road to the defending national champ and piled up 531 yards on 97 plays. (Yes, 97 plays of offense.) Twice they showed enough resiliency to dig themselves out of 14-point holes. But State was expected to win the game. Dan Mullen billed it as a championship-type game. And the Dogs had the experience factor in their favor. Being stuffed inches short of victory on the game’s final play hurt. If State can’t bounce back and upset LSU at home on Thursday, it will hurt even more. And what was Mullen thinking at game’s end? With 10 seconds left at the goal line, why not toss a quick pass in an attempt to milk two last-gasp plays out of that situation if needed?
7. Georgia 42, South Carolina 45 at Athens — MSU gets the nod over UGA because State lost on the road while Georgia lost at home. There’s no question Mark Richt’s team fought hard and showed vast improvement over it’s previous performance against Boise State. But the anti-Richt crowd doesn’t want to hear all that. They want wins. And despite a better effort on Saturday at Sanford Stadium, the Dawgs still didn’t provide one. UGA can’t afford to beat itself with turnovers.
8. Vanderbilt 24, UConn 21 at Nashville — First, this is not the same UConn team that went Fiesta Bowling last season. Second, VU’s offense is still pretty dang challenged. But the Dores are 2-0. Saturday’s win was the program’s first come-from-behind victory in two years. And it also gave Vandy players one more reason to believe in new coach James Franklin. It’s no time to worry about style points on Nashville’s West End. Any win is a good win for Frankin and his Commodores. This one — at the expense of a BCS conference foe — was definitely good for the program.
9. Arkansas 52, New Mexico 3 at Little Rock — When whipping up on one of the nation’s worst football programs, no coach wants to see multiple guys go down with injuries. But that’s what happened Saturday as three UA starters left early with ailments. Luckily, quarterback Tyler Wilson, receiver Jarius Wright and defensive end Jake Bequette all did conditioning work with the Hogs yesterday. Despite the injuries, Arkansas deserves credit for a big win. But the weakness of the opponent forces us to deduct points.
10. LSU 49, Northwestern State 3 at Baton Rouge — See above. It’s hard for us to toss out too many superlatives when a school hosts Creampuff U. In this case, the Tigers devoured said creampuff with great ease. On defense, the Tigers held their in-state opponent to just 95 yards of offense. And on the other side of the ball, quarterbacks Jarrett Lee and Zach Mettenberger were pleasingly accurate in the passing game. But did we mention this was against Northwestern State?
11. Ole Miss 42, Southern Illinois 24 at Oxford — Not only did the Rebels schedule a dog (technically, an Egyptian dog called a Saluki), but they were far from dominant. Filling in at tailback, Jeff Scott rushed for 118 yards, three touchdowns, and also brought back a punt for a TD. He helped UM build a 35-10 lead early in the third quarter. But SIU fought back, cut the lead to 35-23 at one point, and even wound up outgaining the Rebels 420-315. Giving up 420 yards to the FCS Salukis? That’s hardly an encouraging sign.
12. Kentucky 27, Central Michigan 13 at Lexington — Speaking of unimpressive, the Wildcats bring up the rear on our list for the second-consecutive week. At halftime, Central Michigan — up 13-6 — had 227 yards to UK’s 94. By game’s end the Cats’ new Rick Minter-led defense had surrendered 295 yards through the air alone. Granted the Cats’ rushing offense came to life in the second half, but no one in the Bluegrass State can feel too good after a pair of struggles with Western Kentucky and Central Michigan. At least UK might have found a playmaker in running back Josh Clemons whose 87-yard TD run now stands as the longest in school history.