Wacky Week Five: How the SEC Looks Now

Derek StephensSenior Analyst ISeptember 28, 2008

Ole Miss goes into the Swamp and escapes with a 31-30 win over Florida, Alabama slams Georgia in the first half 31-0 and holds on for the victory, and Auburn holds off Tennessee 14-12. 

Mississippi State plays LSU closer than the experts thought, South Carolina breezes by UAB, Arkansas gets destroyed by Texas, Kentucky smokes in-state foe Western Kentucky, and Vanderbilt stays in Nashville, content another week with their first national ranking since 1984.

What a week in the SEC.  Many people have no clue of how this conference still shakes up in quite possibly one of the equal strong years for the strongest conference.


My Thoughts on the SEC

1. Alabama

The "blackout" was a "knockout" to the preseason national title favorite as Alabama destroyed Georgia in the first half and held them off in the second to win 41-30.  They've also moved up to No. 2 in the AP poll.  They now have Kentucky next, a BYE week, Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Arkansas State before heading to Death Valley to take on LSU.

Alabama and LSU could both easily be undefeated heading into Nov. 8, but one of them is likely to get upset with the competitiveness in the SEC week in and week out, and the fact that LSU plays a now-underrated Georgia.


 2. LSU

LSU was expected to blow the Bulldogs out, but that wasn't the case as Mississippi State finally got their offense going.  LSU is off for another week and then travels to the Swamp to take on Florida in a game that everyone knows the Gators want, as LSU narrowly knocked off the Gators last year. 


 3. Georgia

I almost put Auburn here, but their offense doesn't impress me at all, although their defense is stout.  My opinion was that the Georgia players worried too much about their wardrobe rather than the actual game itself—not to take anything away from the Tide.

Georgia is off before they host Tennessee and a tough Vanderbilt team before heading to Death Valley against LSU.  One thing is for sure: I think it's safe to say the black jerseys are going to be put back in the locker to gather some dust. 


 4. Auburn

Auburn put another nail in the coffin for Phil Fulmer's job security, as the Auburn Tigers defense held Tennessee and won 14-12.  Auburn's offense was nothing short of below average, only gaining 226 total yards and going just 6/18 on third down conversions.  Auburn hosts Vanderbilt in a game that could decide a lot in the SEC East and West. 


 5. Florida

Last year, 30 points were enough.  This year, 30 points left them stuffed: Tim Tebow got stuffed on the 32-yard line as Ole Miss pulled the biggest upset on Saturday, knocking off Florida in the Swamp.  Florida committed three turnovers and was outplayed and outcoached in the second half against Ole Miss.

Luckily, Florida has a cakewalk this season as they travel to Fayetteville before hosting LSU at home.



6. Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt survives another week in the top 25 as they had the week off.  Vanderbilt faces a tough test that really decides if the 'Dores are "for real" as they host Auburn in a game, as stated previously, with huge implications as far as the East and West turns out.


  7. Ole Miss

I'm logical, but give the Rebs credit: They showed heart and determination in the clutch as they defeated the Gators this Saturday and got the SEC winless streak monkey off their back.  Ole Miss is eight points away from being 5-0 or a FG and a fumble in the end zone, but the Rebels continue to get better every week.

Ole Miss can move up in the rankings if they show consistency against South Carolina and post back-to-back SEC wins, which is doable considering from what I've seen from the Gamecocks this year.  Ole Miss needs to move on from the Florida game and build on that win to get into a decent bowl game.



 8. Kentucky

Okay, Rich Brooks, if you want some respect from others, please do not schedule Norfolk State, Middle Tennessee, and Western Kentucky in your non-conference schedule.  Yes, you're 4-0, but you've played nobody, with the possible exception of Louisville.  Time will tell.

Don't worry though—you're met with prime time SEC football as you travel to the now-SEC favorite Alabama Crimson Tide.  If you defeat the Tide, I'll be the first to say, "Hey, I was wrong!"  Until then, I withhold judgment and highly doubt I will be eating crow on Saturday.


  9. South Carolina

South Carolina is sitting at 3-2, which is not comforting Gamecock fans as they expected much better after a disappointing 6-6 no-bowl season last year.  Spurrier better get things turned around quick as he heads to Oxford to take on the Rebels.  He'll be facing his former defensive coordinator, Tyrone Nix, as Nix tries to show Spurrier it wasn't coaching that was the problem last year, but injuries.

South Carolina's defense looks decent, but they face a good test this weekend.  A win here will quiet the negativity in Columbia for at least another week.


 10. Tennessee

Tennessee, as I expected in the preseason, is in for a down season after winning the East last year.  After getting thumped by Florida last week, 30-6, the Vols played their heart out against Auburn, but the offense struggled.  Crompton is not nearly as good as previously advertised, throwing for two TDs and four INTs in four games thus far.

Tennessee gets a cupcake week, hosting Northern Illinois, before heading to Athens to take on Georgia.


 11. Mississippi State

Clap. Clap. Clap.  Hey, give the Bulldogs some credit—nobody expected them to go into Death Valley and lose 34-24.  Putting up 24 points was a major accomplishment in my opinion, as they've only earned 23 points in their other three games vs. FBS opponents combined.

The offensive production definitely has to get better, as they only accomplished 285 total yards and 13 first downs, but this is almost a moral victory in itself.  The 24 points obviously still don't take away the fact that the vast majority of Bulldog fans want offensive coordinator Woody McCorvey out.

MSU gets a much-needed BYE this week and then hosts Vanderbilt.


 12. Arkansas

Arkansas, this may be the worst team I've ever seen from the Hogs.  I'm not going to lay it on you since you all are obviously depleted, but every Arkansas fan I encounter tells me how it's going to turn around due to Petrino implementing the spread.

Look, nobody's doubting the Arkansas offense will get better.  My concern for the Hogs is their atrocious defense.  Texas made Arkansas' defense look like a powderpuff JV team.  Arkansas will definitely get it turned around next season and get to a bowl game in '09 if their defense gets it turned around.

Mallett will be the real deal, and just as Ole Miss fans waited for Jevan Snead to see the field after the transfer, Arkansas fans are literally counting down the days until Nov. 28, when this nightmare season for them is over. 


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