The SEC is two times better than every other conference in college football — at least when it comes to the number of teams it has in the AP Top 25 Poll.
Among SEC teams, LSU returns to the rankings following its 45-10 victory over Southern Miss. Meanwhile, Tennessee fell nine spots from No. 9 to its current ranking of No. 18 after its 49-10 loss to Alabama.
But should the Volunteers have moved down that far? And are other teams deservedly where they should be?
Based on last week’s results and not falling victim to massive overreactions, here’s how the AP Top 25 Poll should’ve looked based on Week 7 performances.
HOW THE AP TOP 25 POLL SHOULD’VE LOOKED
1. Alabama (7-0; 60 first-place votes) — What else is new? With its 49-10 victory over Tennessee, Alabama added two more non-offensive touchdowns while running its winning streak to 19, which matches the longest of Nick Saban’s tenure in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide’s beatdown of the Volunteers was so thorough, it didn’t even seem to be a game between top 10 teams. Bama has another one of those matchups on Saturday, as fellow unbeaten Texas A&M visits. With all due respect to Kevin Sumlin and his Aggies, the Tide’s trip to LSU in its next game might be a tougher tilt.
2. Ohio State (6-0) — The Buckeyes, who overcame a 10-point deficit in the third quarter at Camp Randall before eventually beating Wisconsin in overtime, passed their toughest test of the season. It’s tempting to want Urban Meyer’s team to skip the rest of its schedule until its regular-season finale at home against Michigan on Nov. 26. But a trip to Penn State beckons on Saturday night. Ohio State also has a big matchup at home against Nebraska on Nov. 5.
3. Michigan (6-0, 1 first-place vote) — The Wolverines moved up a spot after their bye week. It’s somewhat surprising to see them get a first-place vote with Alabama and Ohio State sharing the same universe. Who knows? Maybe one of the voters likes milk with his steak, too. Illinois comes to the Big House on Saturday.
4. Washington (6-0) — The Huskies have gotten a lot of flak for their non-conference schedule, but beating Stanford and Oregon by a combined 114-27 score is a big reason why Chris Petersen’s team is ranked this high. Coming off a bye week, Washington hosts Oregon State on Saturday and follows that up with a visit to Utah.
5. Texas A&M (6-0) — The Aggies spent their bye week preparing for their visit to Alabama on Saturday. In their last trip to Tuscaloosa two years ago, the Aggies were blanked, 59-0. Even though the Crimson Tide just demolished a top 10 SEC team in Tennessee by 39 points, A&M should fare better this time around. We don’t expect a blowout of that magnitude this week. We just want a competitive game.
6. Clemson (7-0) — The Tigers’ 24-17 overtime win over NC State still feels like a loss. If the Wolfpack’s Kyle Bambard hadn’t missed three field goal attempts between 33 and 43 yards, it would’ve been a defeat. After a bye this week, Clemson visits Florida State on Oct. 29.
7. Louisville (5-1) — Even though the Cardinals never trailed and outgained Duke by 230 yards, they never seemed in total control during their 24-14 home victory on Friday night. Fresh off its near upset of Clemson, North Carolina State visits Lamar Jackson and Co. on Saturday.
8. Nebraska (6-0) – Off to their best start since 2001, the Cornhuskers struggled with Indiana in Bloomington before winning a one-score game. Mike Riley’s squad follows a home game against Purdue this week with a visit to Wisconsin on Oct. 29. The battle with the Boilermakers might be Nebraska’s easiest contest of the season.
9. Baylor (6-0) — The Bears, who aren’t scoring as much as they did last season when they led the FBS with an average of 48.1 points per game, put up 49 in their romp over Kansas. After its second bye week this season, Baylor visits Texas on Oct. 29.
10. Wisconsin (4-2) – The Badgers have two losses, but falling to both Michigan and Ohio State by 7 points represent the best defeats in the FBS this season. Despite having to visit Iowa and playing Nebraska at home over the next two weeks, Wisconsin could run the table the rest of the way.
11. West Virginia (5-0) — The Big 12’s other undefeated team along with Baylor, the Mountaineers trounced Texas Tech in Lubbock on Saturday. However, the second half of their season gets much tougher with trips to Oklahoma State and Texas in addition to home games against Oklahoma and Baylor.
12. Houston (6-1) — The Cougars have definitely regressed over the last two weeks, falling at Navy for their first loss of the season before needing a fumble recovery with 1:21 left in their 38-31 home win over Tulsa on Saturday. Houston visits SMU this week.
13. Florida State (5-2) — The Seminoles struggled with Wake Forest at home before beating the Demon Deacons, 17-6. After its bye week, Florida State hosts Clemson on Oct. 29.
14. Florida (5-1) — The good news is that the Gators got two defensive scores in their 40-14 victory over Missouri. The bad news is that they will no longer play LSU at home this season, “settling” on a Nov. 19 matchup in Baton Rouge. Even though Florida is in the driver’s seat in the SEC East, three of its last six regular season games are against ranked teams, including visits to Arkansas and Florida State along with that trip to Death Valley.
15. Boise State (6-0) — The Broncos, who beat Colorado State by 5 points after leading by 25, host BYU on Thursday night.
16. Oklahoma (4-2) — The Sooners, who appear to have found their way after losing to Houston and Ohio State, visit Texas Tech this week after crushing Kansas State.
17. Arkansas (5-2) — The Razorbacks, who rallied to beat Ole Miss at home on Saturday night, are in the midst of their toughest stretch of the season. After battling Alabama and the Rebels, the Hogs’ next three games are also against ranked opponents – at Auburn, and at home against Florida and LSU.
18. Tennessee (5-2) — The Vols are probably grateful to have the week off after the beating they took against Alabama. Butch Jones’ banged-up bunch, which is no longer in control of the SEC East, will have to finish the season without Jalen Reeves-Maybin. Tennessee visits South Carolina on Oct. 29.
19. Utah (6-1)
20. Western Michigan (7-0)
21. Auburn (4-2) — What might be the most impressive stat about the Tigers, who are coming off their bye week, is that under first-year coordinator Kevin Steele, they are 11th in the FBS in scoring defense, allowing 16 points per game. That defense will be tested at home against Arkansas on Saturday night.
22. North Carolina (5-2)
23. Ole Miss (3-3) — The Rebels didn’t blow a three-touchdown lead in their loss at Arkansas, but they did surrender a fourth-quarter advantage. Ole Miss, which has already matched its loss total from last season, still has three games left against ranked teams, starting with Saturday night’s visit to LSU.
24. Navy (4-1)
25. LSU (4-2) — After scoring no more than 34 points in any of their first four games, the Tigers have averaged 43.5 over their last two contests, including Saturday’s 45-10 home win over Southern Miss. Don’t look now, but LSU has won two straight games without Les Miles, Cam Cameron or Leonard Fournette, someone whom Ed Orgeron hopes will return for this weekend’s home game against Ole Miss.
Source: Saturday Down South