Week four has come and gone, and one thing is quite clear about the SEC a third of the way through the season: there is a clear one and two with Alabama and Georgia, and then there’s everyone else. The gap between the top two spots and the rest of the conference has got to be the biggest that I can remember in over a decade, and I don’t think it’s debatable. On the other end of the spectrum, Missouri is without a doubt the worst team in the conference. That leaves eleven teams fighting for spots 3-13, and we are here to tell you how those teams stack up.
14. Missouri (Last week: 14)
Missouri was destroyed by Auburn at home in front of a half-empty stadium at kickoff that thinned out continuously throughout the game. Coming into the season we thought Drew Lock and company would be able to keep games close by scoring a bunch of points, but through four weeks this hasn’t been the case.
13. Ole Miss (13)
The Rebels had a bye last weekend and will face Alabama this week in Tuscaloosa, which almost certainly will be a blowout. Ole Miss can’t stop the run to save their lives, and that doesn’t bode well facing the run heavy offenses of the SEC. Until the offense shows us they aren’t the same offense that scored 16 points on Cal, the Rebels are closer to Mizzou than they are to the middle of the SEC.
12. Arkansas (12)
Arkansas struggled to stop an A&M offense that has struggled since the second half of their opener against UCLA, and that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the season. They have also struggled protecting Austin Allen this season which is never a good thing. The loss to A&M has set Bret Bielema back again this year, but the Razorbacks tend to end better than they start the season, so there is hope still in Fayetteville.
11. South Carolina (10)
South Carolina slipped out of Williams-Brice Stadium with a 17-16 victory over a La Tech team that was dismantled by Mississippi State just two weeks ago. The Gamecocks just don’t look the same without their big-play receiver Deebo Samuel in the lineup. If they can’t figure things out on the offensive side of the ball, it could be a long year in Columbia. Considering the talent level at Kentucky and Vanderbilt this season, the Gamecocks need to find an answer early if they want to stay in the hunt for the SEC East crown.
10. Texas A&M (11)
A&M was able to pull out a 50-43 win over Arkansas in overtime in Arlington to cool Kevin Sumlin’s seat a bit, but it was not a pretty win. The Aggies still have glaring weaknesses on defense, and it remains to be seen how effective this offense will be against the better defenses in the SEC. Sumlin is safe for now, but let’s not pretend all is well in College Station just yet.
9. Kentucky (9)
Kentucky fans have to be sick after losing the way they did against Florida. For the 31st year in a row. The Wildcats dominated the game for three and a half quarters before completely disappearing in crunch time. They left a receiver uncovered at the line of scrimmage that led to the Florida touchdown to take the lead, then were flagged on a holding call with under 10 seconds left that took them out of field goal range. Mark Stoops and company were so close to snapping Florida’s 30 game win streak and just couldn’t get it done. It will be interesting to see how they respond for the rest of the season after what many have described as an emotionally crushing defeat. The Wildcats are talented, but can they rally together after this one and still have a good season?
8. Tennessee (8)
Tennessee was able to squeak out a 17-13 win over a winless UMass team this past weekend, which of course outraged the Volunteer faithful. The Vols struggled to move the ball consistently and never really looked dominant on defense against a much inferior opponent. Had Tennessee lost this game, Butch Jones may be looking for a new home today, but he was able to live to fight another day. Unfortunately, that other day is this Saturday against Georgia. It could be a signature win for Butch Jones, or it could be just another disappointment for the Orange nation.
7. Vanderbilt (6)
The Commodores were saying they wanted Bama after their impressive win over Kansas State, and, well, they got them. Needless to say, it didn’t end well for Vandy. The Crimson Tide blew them out of a stadium that had so many Bama fans in it that it looked like the game was being played in Tuscaloosa. But no need to rainon Derek Mason’s parade entirely. Nobody actually though Vandy would win that game, and losing it doesn’t hurt their chances for a great year by Nashville standards. The Commodores are still undefeated in the SEC East and in contention for that trip to Atlanta in December.
6. LSU (7)
The Tigers responded from their beat down in Starkville, but not in the way many expected them to. LSU never trailed in the ball game, but Syracuse was able to make things interesting in the fourth quarter by cutting the Tiger lead to 28-26. LSU would responded on their next drive with a touchdown that effectively put the game out of reach, but it wasn’t pretty. The Tigers were still licking their wounds from Starkville and were not completely healthy, but LSU clearly has work to do if they want any chance to end the season on a high note.
5. Florida (5)
The Gators could easily be 0-3 right now, but they have been able to survive two weeks in a row on crazy endings. This time it was a slew of Kentucky mistakes that would open the door for a Florida comeback to extend their winning streak over Kentucky to 31 years. It’s hard to imagine that Florida will be able to keep this up all season, but we will see this weekend when Vanderbilt comes to Gainesville. The offense is still horrid, but the Gator defense has played well for the most part. With Luke Del Rio being named the starter this week, the Gators really need a statement performance by the offense this Saturday.
4. Mississippi State (3)
You would think that Mississippi State would fall further than one spot after being stomped by Georgia 31-3, but that just shows how jumbled up the middle of the SEC is this year. The Bulldogs were punched in the mouth early by a very good Georgia team and State just simply was never able to respond. The Dawgs have an excellent opportunity this week to bounce back against Auburn on the Plains, but it won’t be easy. The Bulldogs face their third straight top-15 team, and second straight on the road. With a bye week on the horizon, Dan Mullen and the Bulldogs would love nothing more than to take a huge win from an SEC West rival before taking some time off.
3. Auburn (4)
The Tigers went on the road and beat up on Missouri 51-14 in their conference opener, but what does that really mean? The offense seemed to get back on track after two lack-luster performances against Clemson and Mercer, but let’s not forget how bad Missouri’s defense is. Auburn will have a much tougher task on their hands this week when Mississippi State comes to town. Gus Malzahn’s high powered offense was picked at the top of the SEC behind Alabama, and winning this game is a must if they want to stay in that position.
2. Georgia (2)
Georgia made a huge statement against Mississippi State this past weekend with a dominating 31-3 victory. Georgia not only looks like the best team in the East right now, they also look like a potential College Football Playoff team. I also believe Jake Fromm has snatched the quarterback job out from under Jacob Eason’s nose with his performance last Saturday. Considering the Bulldogs have just two more ranked opponents on the schedule, the path to an SEC title game is wide open. All Georgia has to do is avoid stumbling down the stretch against an inferior opponent, something they have not been able to do since their last SEC crown in 2005.
1. Alabama (1)
Alabama showed why they are the best team in the country Saturday in a dominating 59-0 win in Nashville. The Crimson Tide controlled the game from start to finish by not allowing Vandy to cross the 50 yard line and running the ball down their throat. To put into perspective how dominating of a performance this was, the Tide had the same amount of first downs has Vandy had offensive plays with 38. Simply incredible.