We are a third of the way through the season. Some things we know for sure. Bama is an angry, snarling beast that will devour anyone or anything that gets in its path. Tennessee is a flaming pile of garbage.
In the middle you have everything from Georgia, which definitely has snarling beast potential, but also seems to operate in a haze sometimes, to Arkansas which looks every bit like the flaming pile of garbage Tennessee is, but gets the benefit of the doubt because you don’t switch from Brett Bielema to Chad Morris and nail that new playbook overnight.
So what’s the deal with the SEC this week? What is the deal with Kentucky? They made the headline, after all! Where does Carolina stand in all of this? Let’s get to the power rankings.
1. ALABAMA (4-0)
Obi Wan Kenobi once told Darth Vader “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.” Very few teams that have beaten Nick Saban once have not experienced that kind of retribution.
Since Johnny Football left College Station, the Aggies have had nothing even remotely resembling an answer for Bama. Now that he’s Johnny Foutball and Jimbo Fisher is in charge, I suspect the gulf between the two teams will get wider. At least Kevin Sumlin was doing something different and forcing Bama to defend a more wide open attack. Fisher is never going to beat Saban running the same plays Bama’s defense goes against everyday in practice.
2. GEORGIA (4-0)
We have sort of been waiting all year for UGA to ascend to this spot in the SEC Power Rankings. Are they really the second-best team in the conference? Well, maybe, but also it feels like they are at this spot by default.
Georgia didn’t look great in the first half against Mizzou, but once they got things rolling, they looked way better than LSU did against Louisiana Tech. Thus, UGA leapfrogs LSU this week.
3. LSU (4-0)
Until about halfway through the fourth quarter, it seemed like this was going to be the Coach O collapse we were all waiting for. Then he did some Louisiana voodoo, and LSU disposed of Louisiana Tech like the Bulldogs were a drifter that saw too much.
After Tech pulled to within three points, LSU not only scored twice, but they also did it on a pair of clock-draining drives. That is what teams built on power should do best, and as frustrating as I am sure that can be for Joe Burrow, the fact is LSU will always be built on running backs that can break every bone in your body.
4. KENTUCKY (4-0)
I don’t know how we got here either, and I really hate admitting the week before Carolina goes to Lexington that Kentucky is one of the conference’s best team right now, but gang, Kentucky is legit good. I was as skeptical as anyone, but they didn’t just survive Mississippi State, they absolutely handled the Bulldogs.
As far as offense goes, this wasn't a crazy entertaining game, but Benny Snell’s performance made me think of Marcus Lattimore at his peak. You were welcome to try to bring him down, but he was going to do whatever he wanted. It may be best to just leave the room and clean up the mess after he’s done.
What is scarier is Josh Allen Jr (the best Josh Allen in college football each of the last two years) says he feels unblockable. If true, that is a problem.
5. AUBURN (3-1)
These rankings are volatile and they mean nothing. I am not beholden to anything that makes sense. I may rank Alabama number 10 this week just because I can. I think Auburn would beat Kentucky nine out of ten times, but in week 4, Kentucky looked really good and Auburn was the beneficiary of playing Arkansas.
Auburn won by 31 and didn’t even amass 250 yards of total offense. No one in this game threw for 200 yards or even rushed for 70. Is Auburn good? Yes, but they played pretty sloppily on Saturday night. Fortunately they were playing stacks of manure shaped into human form and dressed in red and white, so Auburn was able to get away with sloppy.
6. MISSISSIPPI STATE (3-1)
I am still on the Mississippi State bandwagon...just to a lesser degree than I was before. Kentucky may have solved their asses on Saturday night, but I remain optimistic about the combination of Joe Moorhead and Nick Fitzgerald.
At this point, I still feel like this is a team that belongs in the top half of the SEC. Now, they are about to start a six game stretch that includes three top ten opponents. Let’s see how Mississippi State performs in those games before we start their free fall.
7. SOUTH CAROLINA (2-1)
If Carolina can play against Kentucky the way it did against Vandy, this team is on its way back to the top 25. Turnovers are obviously a problem that needs solving. That is what was most frustrating about the rushing game on Saturday, and sure, there was a weather factor, but that doesn’t make watching Rico fumble away what would have been a sure score any less frustrating.
To beat Kentucky, the Cocks are going to need to cause turnovers and control the controllable. Don’t worry about stopping Benny Snell. Focus on everything else. If Muschamp and his staff look at each remaining game individually instead of trying to fit everything into a single over-arching gameplan, a 9-win season is very much within reach.
8. MISSOURI (3-1)
I was actually really impressed with Mizzou in the early going against Georgia. They were doing a good job of holding the Bulldogs to field goals and making them struggle for field position. The problem is Mizzou wasn’t able to answer field goals with touchdowns...or other field goals for that matter. And then the wheels came off.
Eric Stokes’ punt block/touchdown return just sucked the life out of Missouri. Before that happened I actually thought Mizzou might find a way to hold Georgia in check and maybe give themselves a chance to win, but when the wheels came off, brother, they came off.
9. FLORIDA (3-1)
Truth be told, when you think back on Florida’s win streak against Kentucky, there are at least three times in the last five years that it should have ended. That’s in the rearview mirror now, and even though Tennessee is vastly inferior to Kentucky, it is a rival that is 100% dominatable, and that is what the Gators did on Saturday.
The ceiling on Florida is low. I think what we saw on Saturday is the most Feliepe Franks is capable of giving this team, and it wasn't very good. I don’t see this team being able to hang with LSU, Mississippi State, Carolina, Mizzou, or UGA. Dan Mullen will eventually right this ship, but it’s going to be a long road to “eventually” in this case.
10. Texas A&M (2-2)
So far, Texas A&M’s best wins are hanging with, but ultimately losing to Clemson and holding Bama to under 50 points, but still losing. The Aggies are likely better than Arkansas, but after that they enter a four game stretch where it is hard to see an opportunity for them to be a favorite.
11. OLE MISS (3-1)
Hey, you beat that school with the girl that walks around campus with an AK-47. That’s something!
LOL! JK! That school is Kent State. They suck at football. You trash, Ole Miss!
12. VANDERBILT (2-2)
Remember all that talk about Vandy being legit on defense? Well, to quote modern American poet Stone Cold Steve Austin, Carolina “stomped a mud hole in that ass and then walked it dry.”
Maybe it was the crazy circumstances of weather (it was more than that) or maybe Carolina is better than Notre Dame (possibly, but probably not), either way, any good will Vandy earned in week 3, Carolina quickly undid in week 4.
13. TENNESSEE (2-2)
14. ARKANSAS (1-3)
They more butt.