We are two weeks into the season in the SEC. I know my method of early season rankings frustrates some people, but right now there are only four teams in the conference we can definitively say we get.
We know more this week than we did last week. That means some things are starting to take shape, but the sample size is still really small. Be patient.
That being said, we have five new tiers this week in which to place teams. They are “Teams we know are good,” “Teams that may be better than we thought,” “Teams that are who we thought they were,” “Teams that may be worse than we thought,” and “I have no idea.” Enjoy!
TEAMS WE KNOW ARE GOOD
1. Alabama Crimson Tide (2-0)
I will be the first to admit that I don’t think this team has really played anyone. Sometimes though, you can just tell by the way a team executes its gameplay that they are really good. Bama seems to be very comfortable in the role of “not just good, but maybe the best ever”.
They looked good on Saturday with Tua under center. They looked good with Jalen under center. Bama has blown out both opponents and, here’s a fun fact, the one they beat on Saturday might be better than the one they beat last week.
2. Auburn Tigers (2-0)
We’re all SEC fans here, so I expect some of you look at what Auburn has done thus far and wonder how they are in this tier. The fact of the matter is, with A&M coming up short on Saturday, no one has a better win this season and it isn’t even close. I know Washington is a Pac-12 team, but it is a legit CFP contender with a legit defense and a legit run game that Auburn made look silly.
This is a dangerous team that did exactly what it needed to in week 2. They dominated an inferior opponent without giving too much away ahead of this week’s visit from LSU. If Auburn wins on Saturday, they are undoubtedly at the top of the power rankings next week and may even get a first place vote or two nationally.
3. Georgia Bulldogs (2-0)
Everyone, let’s let out a collective exhale. Does losing to UGA suck? Absolutely. Does letting the third quarter get out of hand the way it did suck? Absolutely. Do we all wish the Gamecocks performed better? Abao-friggin’-lutely. But maybe we just need to admit that the gap between UGA and USC is a lot bigger than we have convinced ourselves it is.
Now, I don’t want to say Deandre Baker had a dominant performance in this game. He did drop a sure pick and picked up a pair of pass interference penalties, but we have to give him and his teammates in the Georgia secondary credit for holding Deebo in check. That isn’t easy to do.
On offense, this team looked like it was in cruise control. They didn’t ask much from Fromm, but they really didn’t need to. The Bulldogs’ running backs put together one hell of a day.
4. Mississippi State Bulldogs (2-0)
We knew coming into the season that the Bulldogs had the potential to be a lot of fun to watch. Admittedly, they are yet to really be tested by elite competition. Like Alabama though, this team is executing its gameplay at such a high level that it is clear no one wants to run into them.
A road trip to Manhattan, Kansas isn’t easy. And I mean that physically (it isn’t the most conveniently located place on Earth) and mentally (underrated home field advantage) and Mississippi State just did what it does best. The Dogs lined up in multiple RPO formations, often chose the R and just pummeled a smaller back 7 most of the night.
TEAMS THAT MAY BE BETTER THAN WE THOUGHT
1. LSU Tigers (2-0)
LSU demolished Miami in week 1. We all thought The U was back, right? Well, maybe LSU is really good or maybe The U ain’t back. LSU doesn’t need much from Joe Burrow, which is good, because through 2 games he has shown to be slightly better than the average LSU quarterback.
Like Auburn, LSU’s main goal last week was to show next to nothing in what was supposed to be an easy win over Southeastern Louisiana. There was just no pop to anything they did. I am sold that LSU is better than I thought they’d be. I am not sold that they are actually good.
2. Vanderbilt Commodores (2-0)
Vandy has demolished two bad teams. Does that make them good? Not at all, but raise your hand if you trusted them not to screw up a schedule designed to make them 2-0 as they head to Notre Dame...That’s what I thought.
Vandy has forced 6 turnovers this season. That makes them a top ten defense in that aspect. Before the year began, I thought it would be Derek Mason’s last in Nashville. Now, I am thinking that maybe this is a team that can steal another win or two on their way to a bowl.
3. Ole Miss Rebels (2-0)
Okay, I think Ole Miss is really good. I think they have the talent to ruin a lot of SEC teams’ seasons. I just wonder if they can maintain the focus. This is a really talented roster, especially on the offensive side of the ball, and my concern is that at some point will just playing spoiler be enough of a motivator for these guys.
Here’s where I am torn. They looked awesome against Texas Tech, but Texas Tech’s defense has only improved from “ghastly” to merely “bad”. They didn’t look that great against Southern Illinois, and I wonder how much of that is a matter of losing motivation and focus with Bama coming up on Saturday.
THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE
1. Tennessee Volunteers (1-1)
Tennessee sucks. I figured they would suck. Do not mistake a bludgeoning of East Tennessee for improvement. The real Tennessee is the one that West Virginia did terrible hillbilly things to in Charlotte.
The Vols get two more weeks of winnable games before they enter a gauntlet that includes trips to Athens, Auburn, and Carolina, and just for good measure includes a home date against Alabama. Enjoy 3-1...maybe 2-2 Tennessee fans. The real Vols are about to come trudging through the door.
2. Missouri Tigers (2-0)
Count me amongst the fools that think Drew Locke is so good he can overcome whatever Derek Dooley is attempting to do in the other Columbia. Wyoming isn’t an SEC defense, but they are a good and experienced defense, and Mizzou was able to torch them anyway they wanted to on Saturday.
Missouri will be in a shootout next week with a very disappointing Purdue team. After that they enter a stretch of four very losable games. After they come through that though, I struggle to see a game where they won’t be the favorite. That is exactly what I expected of Mizzou for this season.
PROBABLY WORSE THAN WE THOUGHT
1. Florida Gators (1-1)
The last time Kentucky beat Florida, Donald Trump was president and iPhones cost $1000. Get it? Because it just happened a few days ago?
You get it.
I actually thought “Hey, Dan Mullen is a good coach. Florida is going to be good again pretty quickly,” without accounting for the fact that if incumbent starting QB Feliepe Franks couldn’t easily win the starting job easily against a true freshman, that maybe this isn’t a very good team. Fast forward to the team’s first loss to Kentucky since before Lunchables were invented (It’s true. Look it up.) and maybe this isn’t a very good team.
I HAVE NO FRIGGIN’ IDEA
1. Texas A&M Aggies (1-1)
Let me introduce you all to Graham Peterson. Graham is a Texas A&M fan. I assume he is a loyal reader of mine and takes what I have to say very seriously, because he was so moved by my rankings last week that he felt the need to send me an email.
Now, it seems really important to Graham that he be congratulated for A&M losing a game, so please join me in congratulating him. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ask him where he would like balloons sent and just how many floats he would like us to build. I will put a call in to Macy’s to see if we can get the Snoopy balloon they use every Thanksgiving.
2. South Carolina Gamecocks (1-1)
So maybe it isn’t that the team isn’t good. Maybe it is that there is a bigger gap between the Cocks and the Dawgs than any of us ever wanted to acknowledge. What I walked away from Saturday thinking is that the offense still has a way to go when playing superior opponents. One offseason isn’t long enough to completely cure the team of its “if Deebo can’t get going we’re screwed” illness.
Now look, Carolina got whipped, but they got whipped by one of maybe 10 legit national title contenders. The season isn’t lost. They are still good enough to be a 9 or 10 win team. Sometimes there are huge leaps and sometimes there are just baby steps when you’re walking the road from 2015 to title contender. You just never know what type of step you’re taking each week.
3. Kentucky Wildcats (2-0)
I don’t know what to think of Kentucky. They looked like garbage against Central Michigan. Then they looked competent against Florida. Outside of Benny Snell Jr, there isn’t a ton of talent on this roster and their coach is the picture under the word “mediocrity” in the dictionary.
I still think this is a bad football team. Look at how many lucky breaks, fluke scoop and scored, and missed field goal calls had to go their way in order to beat Florida for the first time in over 30 years.
4. Arkansas Razorbacks (1-1)
They lost to Colorado State, who seems to be pretty bad. I want to cut Arkansas some slack, because new coach Chad Morris is in the process of changing everything, but wow, is Colorado State bad!
The problem with Arkansas right now is they do nothing well. There’s what Chad Morris wants them to do well, which is throw the ball. There is what the roster was supposedly built to do well, which is run the ball. And yet none of it looks natural right now.