Missouri’s double-overtime home loss to South Carolina shook up the SEC East race, leaving the door wide open for the Gamecocks and Georgia.
While the East appears to be in disarray, the West seems to be gaining strength. Alabama remains the clear-cut No. 1 team in the conference – as it has been throughout the season. LSU, Auburn and Texas A&M seemingly give the division great depth. November tilts between Auburn and Georgia and Texas A&M and Missouri will be a great indicator for the true difference between the East and West.
Missouri takes a bit of a tumble – from No. 2 to No. 4 – in this week’s rankings. Nobody takes a considerable step forward because, nine weeks into the season, the picture is gaining greater clarity.
Here are your Week 9 SEC Power Rankings:
1. Alabama (8-0, 5-0) – Last Week: 1; Beat Tennessee, 45-10
Another week, another landslide win for the Crimson Tide. Top-ranked Alabama has become so boring that stories about fans leaving early (because they’re so bored of coach Nick Saban’s team destroying opponents) become headlines. On the field, QB AJ McCarron wrapped up a month in which he didn’t throw an INT or take a sack. (h/t: Andrew Gribble of al.com.) RB T.J. Yeldon ran for 3 TDs in the lopsided victory over Tennessee.
2. LSU (7-2, 3-2) – Last Week: 3; Beat Furman, 48-16
This week’s game against Furman wasn’t exactly pretty for LSU, which led just 20-16 at halftime. Les Miles’ team came alive in the second half, though, pulling away for the easy win.
3. Auburn (7-1, 3-1) – Last Week: 4; Beat Florida Atlantic, 45-10
Auburn did what top-10 teams are supposed to do against inferior opponents – erased all doubt early. QB Nick Marshall suffered a second-quarter shoulder injury, but is expected to be back in time for next week’s game at Arkansas. The Tigers ran for 422 yards in their big win.
4. Missouri (7-1, 3-1) – Last Week: 2; Lost to No. 21 South Carolina, 27-24 (2OT)
The Tigers will find themselves thinking about what might have been after squandering chance after chance to put away South Carolina and – essentially – the SEC East. Missouri led 17-0 at the start of the fourth quarter. Brilliance from Gamecocks QB Connor Shaw teamed with ineffectiveness from the Missouri offense allowed South Carolina to come back to tie in regulation and win in double overtime. Missouri K Andrew Baggett missed a 24-yard field goal attempt that would have sent the game into a third overtime session.
5. Texas A&M (6-2, 3-2) – Last Week: 5; Beat Vanderbilt, 56-24
So much for a “bad throwing shoulder.” QB Johnny Manziel lit up Vanderbilt to the tune of 305 passing yards and 4 TDs in just 2-plus quarters. A&M moved the ball at will offensively and the defense – whether as a result of improvement or the Commodores being without their starting quarterback – played well enough. Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin was understandably upset with his team’s sloppy play. A&M turned the ball over five times in the win.
6. South Carolina (6-2, 4-2) – Last Week: 6; Won at No. 5 Missouri, 27-24 (2OT)
QB Connor Shaw’s gutsy relief effort gave South Carolina a road win it had to have to keep alive any realistic chances of winning the SEC East. The Gamecocks rallied from 17 down in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime and then survived in the extra frames.
7. Georgia (4-3, 3-2) – Last Week: 7; Bye week
Not playing this week actually improved the Bulldogs’ chances of returning to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. Not only did Georgia get a little healthier – RB Todd Gurley is expected back this week – but it finds itself just one game back of Missouri after South Carolina shocked the Tigers.
8. Ole Miss (5-3, 2-3) – Last Week: 8; Beat Idaho, 59-14
There was no drama in the Rebels’ dominant victory over Idaho. Ole Miss found success in the run game even without starting RB Jeff Scott, getting 224 yards and 3 TDs on 25 carries from RBs I’Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton.
9. Florida (4-3, 3-2) – Last Week: 9; Bye week
The SEC’s most injury-riddled team gladly took the week off to regroup and prepare for a battle against rival Georgia. Florida needs to find answers on offense following consecutive sub-par showings from the unit. More disturbing, coach Will Muschamp’s vaunted defense has been decimated by injuries as well, meaning the team’s forte isn’t as strong as usual.
10. Mississippi State (4-3, 1-2) – Last Week: 12; Beat Kentucky, 28-22
Coach Dan Mullen apparently settled on QB Dak Prescott as his starter. The sophomore rewarded Mullen with a reasonably strong passing night in a win over Kentucky. The Bulldogs withstood a final-minute drive by the Wildcats to hold on for the win.
11. Tennessee (4-4, 1-3) – Last Week: 10; Lost at No. 1 Alabama, 45-10
The most important storyline from the Volunteers’ blowout loss at Alabama came at the start of the second half when coach Butch Jones turned to true freshman QB Josh Dobbs. Tennessee has shown it is ready to pull upsets at Neyland Stadium – and gets another shot in two weeks when Auburn visits – but doesn’t seem ready to compete in tough road venues.
12. Vanderbilt (4-4, 1-4) – Last Week: 11; Lost at No. 16 Texas A&M, 56-24
Though the Commodores showed some life during a second-quarter run, they were no match for an angry Texas A&M team. QB Patton Robinette struggled in his first start for injured QB Austyn Carta-Samuels. WR Jordan Matthews set the career SEC receiving yards record in the loss.
13. Arkansas (3-5, 0-4) – Last Week: 13; Bye week
Arkansas enjoyed a much-needed bye week. First-year coach Bret Bielema’s team has seemingly gone in the wrong direction over the past few weeks. With two weeks to prepare for Auburn and coach Gus Malzahn’s up-tempo offense, can Bielema turn in a huge SEC West upset?
14. Kentucky (1-6, 0-4) – Last Week: 14; Lost at Mississippi State, 28-22
The Wildcats put together their most competitive game of the conference season, pushing Mississippi State on a nationally televised game. Kentucky had a chance to win the game in the final minutes and drove to the MSU 29-yard line. However, the Wildcats failed to convert a fourth-down try in the closing seconds.
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