Saturday’s showdown in Tuscaloosa marks the last call for LSU if the Tigers are to make any noise in the SEC West. They have two road losses in league play by a total of just six points, but those setbacks leave LSU in a must-win situation against top-ranked Alabama.
In other action, Missouri jumped Auburn in the SEC Power Rankings this week, but the move means little. Missouri beat a better team more convincingly than Auburn did a bad Arkansas team. Though Auburn coach Gus Malzahn showed little interest in doing anything more than turning in a ho-hum, under-the-radar victory, style points do matter in differentiating these two programs. Both have turned in impressive seasons and the race between the two remains hotly contested.
Here are your Week 10 SEC Power Rankings:
1. Alabama (8-0, 5-0) – Last Week: 1; Bye week
The Crimson Tide took a week off before hosting LSU. Alabama has just five games separating it from a third consecutive appearance in the BCS National Championship Game, assuming it can win out.
2. LSU (7-2, 3-2) – Last Week: 2; Bye week
For LSU to have any shot at winning the SEC West, it must win at Alabama this weekend. The Tigers, like the Tide, are coming off a bye. Staying put in the SEC Power Rankings won’t be an option for LSU this week. Either it will confirm its spot at No. 2 (or No. 1) next week, or the Tigers will plummet toward the middle of the pack.
3. Missouri (8-1, 4-1) – Last Week: 4; Beat Tennessee, 31-3
The Tigers bounced back from their double-overtime loss to South Carolina with a convincing victory over a Tennessee team that gave Georgia trouble and upset the Gamecocks. Equally important, Missouri QB1 James Franklin is apparently inching closer to being game-ready. The league’s best defensive line continues to harass opponents into numerous turnovers.
4. Auburn (8-1, 4-1) – Last Week: 3; Won at Arkansas, 35-17
Style points were hard to come by in Auburn’s workman-like performance Saturday at Arkansas. The Tigers simply rolled up their sleeves and pounded the ball at the Razorbacks for four quarters, dropping back to pass just 10 times. Defensively, Ellis Johnson’s crew still has plenty of work to do, but it continues to come up with timely turnovers.
5. South Carolina (7-2, 5-2) – Last Week: 6; Beat Mississippi State, 34-16
Five turnovers converted into 20 points played the difference in South Carolina’s thumping of Mississippi State. The Bulldogs actually moved the ball better, but committed too many mistakes. RB Mike Davis showed no ill effects of what looked to be a serious ankle injury last week.
6. Texas A&M (7-2, 3-2) – Last Week: 5; Beat UTEP, 57-7
The Aggies got off to a slow start, but woke up in time to smash an inferior UTEP team. QB Johnny Manziel accounted for 6 TDs to help A&M quickly turn this one into a laugher.
7. Georgia (5-3, 4-2) – Last Week: 7; Beat Florida, 23-20
RB Todd Gurley makes this a completely different team, yet the second-half woes persist. Of all the teams in the middle of this list, Georgia has the greatest potential to climb toward the top. A win at Auburn would remind folks just how good this team was supposed to be before all the injuries.
8. Ole Miss (5-3, 2-3) – Last Week: 8; Bye week
The Rebels took the week off in preparing for a four-game stretch run that will determine their bowl destination. Ole Miss hosts the next three, highlighted by a Nov. 16 date with Missouri. Win out and the Rebels could be in for a nice postseason trip.
9. Florida (4-4, 3-3) – Last Week: 9; Lost to Georgia, 23-20
An offensive performing offensively poorly leaves the Gators reeling just to make a bowl game. Florida made a late run at its rival on Saturday, largely thanks to its defense. Coach Will Muschamp’s seat in Gainesville is growing increasingly (and unfairly) warm quickly.
10. Vanderbilt (4-4, 1-4) – Last Week: 12; Bye week
Qualifying for a bowl game becomes Vanderbilt’s focus over the final month of the season. The Commodores would love to lock up a postseason spot before the regular-season finale against Wake Forest.
11. Tennessee (4-5, 1-4) – Last Week: 11; Lost at Missouri, 31-3
QB Josh Dobbs showed flashes of being a good SEC quarterback during his first start – on the road at Mizzou – but he showed a lot more signs of being a true freshman. Tennessee especially faltered on third downs, converting just 2 of 13 while allowing the Tigers to pick up 10 of 19.
12. Mississippi State (4-4, 1-3) – Last Week: 10; Lost at South Carolina, 34-16
Turnovers absolutely crushed any chance the Bulldogs had of pulling the road upset over South Carolina. Now State faces tough tests against Texas A&M and Alabama, still needing to win twice more just to gain bowl eligibility.
13. Arkansas (3-6, 0-5) – Last Week: 13; Lost to Auburn, 35-17
It’s easy to find reasons to be optimistic about Arkansas after the Auburn game. This team isn’t so far away from being competent, but it does need help – especially in the middle of the defense and in the passing game. Right now, though, the Razorbacks are a bad SEC team.
14. Kentucky (2-6, 0-4) – Last Week: 14; Beat Alabama State, 48-14
QB Jalen Whitlow threw and ran for 4 TDs in the Wildcats’ second win of the season – albeit over FCS opponent Alabama State. Kentucky has four more chances to win a conference game this season.
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