SEC Week 3 separated some contenders from some pretenders. What does that mean for the power rankings? Well, again, as always, we’re going off what we’ve seen— not how these teams will finish, or where we think they’ll end up. Three weeks in, where do they stand?
14. Missouri (1-2, lost to Purdue 35-3)
We knew Missouri was bad. We didn’t know Missouri was bad enough to get dominated by a Purdue team that has been a recent perennial Big Ten doormat. To review, Purdue got a new coach — former Western Kentucky boss Jeff Brohm — in part because it was 9-39 in its previous four seasons. They went to Columbia, and outgained Mizzou 477-203. Maybe they’ll fire Josh Heupel this week.
13. Texas A&M (2-1, beat Louisiana 45-21)
Two weeks off perhaps the biggest disaster in recent college football history, A&M trailed Louisiana at home at halftime. Kellen Mond eventually put together a good game, and at some point, the Aggies might find a way to cobble together six wins. But it’s hard to imagine Kevin Sumlin in College Station next year.
12. Arkansas (1-1, off this week)
Some people would say it’s wrong to move a team down on a week when they didn’t play. Others would just nod knowingly, understand that Arkansas hasn’t showed much, and move on.
11. Auburn (2-1, beat Mercer 24-10)
How quick the mighty have fallen. Auburn has gone from the preseason darling most likely to upset Alabama into an SEC also-ran. Auburn turned the ball over five times against FCS opponent Mercer and generally looked like about the fifth-best team in the West. It’s a long season, but at this pace, the Gus Bus is going to be pretty empty by late October.
10. Ole Miss (2-1, lost to Cal 27-16)
They’re fun to watch, but this is some of the most ragged, improvised, undisciplined football imaginable. This is the opposite of Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Ole Miss has more talented skill players than those two combined, but they explored pretty much every way to beat themselves at Cal. Hard to imagine them faring well in the West.
9. South Carolina (2-1, lost to Kentucky 23-13)
Part of this is the breaking news that Deebo Samuel is lost for the season, which is terrible and unfortunate. Samuel was one of the brightest offensive stars in the East, and Carolina loses a big part of its playmaking ability. The other thing is that Carolina was living dangerously for two weeks and got exposed in Week 3. For the first time all year, they outgained an opponent, although it was by just 5 yards, and they compensated by missing three field goals and an extra point.
8. Tennessee (2-1, lost to Florida 26-20)
Phew. Aside from being the game that makes everyone realize why the East has fallen (two of the 10-15 best programs in college football are being coached by people who are clueless), this game was proof that the flaws in this Tennessee team can’t be hidden by Butch Jones. They could end up second or third in the East … or Jones could lose his job. Feels about even money right now.
7. Florida (1-1, beat Tennessee 26-20)
Is Jim McElwain any smarter than Butch Jones because that last Feleipe Franks prayer was answered? Not really. The Florida-Kentucky game this weekend could end up being more significant for McElwain than for Stoops. If Florida loses that game, this season could end up in free fall. If not, they might work their way back into the East picture yet. It’s that kind of year.
6. LSU (2-1, lost to Mississippi State 37-7)
Not only did they lose by 30, not only were they thoroughly outgained both on the ground and in the air by State, but LSU had almost as many penalty yards (112) as they did rushing yards (133). LSU and Auburn have both looked like frauds in the last two weeks, and while logically, at least one of the two has to improve, there are real issues here. Given the ton of good quarterbacks in any given week of college football, how does LSU not have one?
5. Kentucky (3-0, beat South Carolina 23-13)
This might be too high for Kentucky. Its offense is about as bland and pedestrian as possible. It has been outgained in two of its three games, and its center still has a disconcerting habit of snapping the ball over the quarterback’s head. But the Cats fight and scratch and play much better defense than they were a year ago. And if they can beat Florida next Saturday, they’ll start their season 6-0.
4. Vanderbilt (3-0, beat Kansas State 14-7)
Sure, this is probably the highwater mark of Vandy. The next three games are Alabama, at Florida, and Georgia. But on the other hand, if Vandy continues giving up pretty much no points and getting the ball in the hands of competent skill players , the Dores might go 2-1 in those three games. Let the Kansas State game be a sign that this team is for real. Looking down their schedule, they could still well end up 6-6. Or 9-3.
3. Mississippi State (3-0 beat LSU 37-7)
The offense isn’t really a surprise. If he stays healthy, Nick Fitzgerald will rush for 1,000-1,500 yards, end up with 4,000 total yards, and put up a bunch of points. He almost did all of those things last year. The defense is the surprise. They gave up 31.8 points per game last year and then graduated most of their front seven. Three weeks in, they’re allowing 9.3 points per game. That’ll go up, but State could end up a surprising second or third in the West.
2. Georgia (3-0, beat Samford 42-14)
The Bulldogs, of all the parity in the East, are the one team that more or less is who we thought they were. Saturday, against an FCS squad, they ran the ball for 284 yards and allowed just 22. So far, Jake Fromm has been a steadying influence as a true freshman. Admittedly, Saturday’s matchup hosting Mississippi State will give us a first good read at how the defense adjusts to a quality opponent. But for the moment, we’re buying in on Georgia, until and unless they show us a reason not to do so.
1. Alabama (3-0, beat Colorado State 41-23)
Not the sharpest of games for the Tide, as they allowed 391 yards to a competent, but hardly imposing, Colorado State team. Focus wavers for everyone, and it very much looks like this league is Alabama and then everybody else. It’ll take a perfect storm for Alabama to lose a game in the league.
Source: Saturday Down South