Georgia regained its mojo in an important victory over South Carolina, improving its SEC Power Rankings standing in the process. Meanwhile, Florida and South Carolina showed weaknesses that need to be corrected if they are to contend for the SEC championship. Texas A&M’s defense hardly looks bulletproof, but its offense packs such a punch that it might not matter.
This promises to be another huge shakeup week for the conference, with three conference games on tap including the huge Alabama-Texas A&M tilt.
Here are your Week 2 Power Rankings:
1. Alabama (1-0) – Bye week
There’s nothing like a little R&R before taking on the team that ruined your perfect season the previous year. Rest assured coach Nick Saban didn’t allow his team to eat Cheetos and play NCAA 14. The Crimson Tide’s offensive line appeared lackluster in a blah offensive performance against Virginia Tech in the opener. Then again, Texas A&M’s defense has allowed 31 points to Rice and 28 to Sam Houston State so far. QB AJ McCarron should find the rhythm he lacked in Week 1. Meanwhile, the defense will try to do what few have successfully done – slow Aggies QB Johnny Manziel.
2. LSU (2-0) – Beat UAB, 56-17
QB Zach Mettenberger torched the Blazers secondary in throwing for 5 TDs and the Tigers defense held UAB under 300 yards of total offense. LSU lacks starting experience on defense, but that hasn’t been the hindrance it has been from teams found lower on this list. The UAB game doesn’t put LSU at the top of this list. That the Tigers played so impressively against TCU in the opener catches attention. LSU faces several challenges this season, including two of the top teams from the SEC East. Then we will truly see where the Bayou Bengals stack up in the conference.
3. Georgia (1-1, 1-0) – Beat South Carolina, 41-30
Coach Mark Richt and QB Aaron Murray undoubtedly heard the criticism Georgia’s recent play against the best teams in the nation warranted. In desperate need of a win to keep national championship hopes alive, Murray played at his best. The senior quarterback teamed with RB Todd Gurley to give South Carolina’s overmatched defense fits. Murray completed 17 of 23 passes for 309 yards and 4 TDs. Gurley rushed for 134 yards and accounted for 2 TDs. Uga IX smiled. The Bulldogs’ national championship hopes live on – if only for another two weeks when LSU comes calling.
4. Texas A&M (2-0) – Beat Sam Houston State, 65-28
Some Aggies fans will surely complain about their team ranking behind one-loss Georgia. Well, for starters, A&M has played nobody. At all. Secondly, have you watched your defense? Nobody questions A&M’s ability to score. QB Johnny Manziel, WR Mike Evans and the stable of tailbacks make this one of the most dynamic assembly of skill-position players in the country. Add a powerful offensive line and this team appears to be a juggernaut. Then the other team gets the ball and it becomes apparent that the offense had better be a juggernaut or the Aggies will fight for the Music City Bowl. A&M fans need not worry too much. This week could send the Aggies to the top of this list. After all, A&M “owns the Tide.” Remember?
5. South Carolina (1-1, 0-1) – Lost at Georgia, 41-30
Steve Spurrier made his name through his offenses, but his calling card at South Carolina has been a tremendous defense. That defense looked lost in trying to stop the Bulldogs on Saturday. Spurrier’s coaches didn’t fare any better, with two of them getting caught on camera fighting on the sideline during the third quarter. DE Jadeveon Clowney wants a more creative role. Maybe the defense should just try to do something other than run a base defense. The Gamecocks don’t appear unstoppable on offense, but RB Mike Davis and company have been good enough. Spurrier said he would “offer suggestions” about the defense. Here’s betting that those suggestions will go a long way.
6. Florida (1-1) – Lost at Miami, 21-16
The Gators defense again proved that capable of dominating at times. It had one huge breakdown – on a 52-yard TD pass from Stephen Morris to Phillip Dorsett – and otherwise deserved better than it got. Florida’s offense, conversely, had a disastrous showing. That the Gators cannot withstand a five-turnover barrage comes as no surprise. Their margin of error with their offensive limitations has never been especially big. QB Jeff Driskel and the offense must do a far better job protecting the ball and cashing in red-zone possessions for at least field goals.
7. Ole Miss (2-0, 1-0) – Beat Southeast Missouri State, 31-13
It didn’t take much for the Rebels to roll past Southeast Missouri State. The game provided little more than a tune-up for this week’s Lonestar State battle with Texas. Ole Miss earned its spot toward the top of the power rankings from a Week 1 victory at Vanderbilt. The defense needs to quickly show improvement, but significant young talent gives hope that possibility exists.
8. Vanderbilt (1-1, 0-1) – Beat Austin Peay, 38-3
Like many SEC teams this week, Vanderbilt took a relative bye to play a Homecoming-level opponent. The Commodores predictably dominated Austin Peay. This week provides a real test for Vandy, which travels to South Carolina to play a fuming Gamecocks team. After losing to Ole Miss in the opener, the Commodores need to beat Carolina to avoid an 0-2 start in league play. They would be well-advised to shore up a run defense that the Rebels exposed.
9. Missouri (2-0) – Beat Toledo, 38-23
Now that Missouri has actually played someone – a non-FCS opponent, anyway – it becomes a little easier to gauge. The Tigers’ win over Toledo wasn’t always pretty. The Rockets closed to within a point in the third quarter, but Mizzou responded with the final 14 points.
10. Auburn (2-0) – Beat Arkansas State, 38-9
The defense allows a ton of yards but has been able to limit touchdowns in the red-zone. Auburn’s run game, meanwhile, can be scary with the three-headed monster of RBs Tre Mason, Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant executing Gus Malzahn’s offense. If QB Nick Marshall continues to progress as a passer, this can be a strong offense. The Tigers weren’t dominant in their win over Arkansas State, but ultimately wore down the Red Wolves.
11. Tennessee (2-0) – Beat Western Kentucky, 52-20
The Volunteers forced five turnovers on six plays – scoring on two of them – in dominating the Hilltoppers. Tennessee has shown new life under first-year coach Butch Jones. The run game, behind RBs Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane, should be able to set up the passing game. How QB Justin Worley responds remains to be seen. Bigger tests lie ahead, starting with this week’s trip to Oregon. Uh, good luck with that, Vols.
12. Mississippi State (2-0) – Beat Alcorn State, 51-7
A week after the offense failed to post against Oklahoma State, Dan Mullen’s team took its frustration out on desperately outmatched Alcorn State. A divisional test at Auburn awaits.
13. Arkansas (2-0) – Beat Samford, 31-21
Good thing style points don’t matter. Arkansas trailed FCS foe Samford in the fourth quarter before scoring the game’s final two TDs to escape with the win. The Razorbacks boast a strong run game but need more than game-management skills from QB Brandon Allen.
14. Kentucky (1-1) – Beat Miami (OH), 41-7
Both Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow played and Kentucky crushed Miami (OH). More importantly, the Wildcats defense took tremendous strides from last week’s embarrassment against Western Kentucky. The Cats limited the RedHawks to 123 yards of total offense. Their reward: a date with Louisville and QB Teddy Bridgewater.
Topics: Alabama Crimson Tide, Arkansas Razorbacks, Auburn Tigers, Florida Gators, Georgia Bulldogs, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana State Tigers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, Ole Miss Rebels, SEC, South Carolina Gamecocks, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Vanderbilt Commodores