If, in fact, you have to beat the best to be the best, then it’s tough to argue Auburn as the new No. 1 team in the SEC Power Rankings.
The Tigers, behind CB Chris Davis’ 109-yard missed field goal return with no time on the clock, took down top-ranked Alabama. Not only did the dramatic ending propel Auburn past its archrival, it also puts the Tigers in an improbable SEC Championship Game matchup with Missouri.
The two Tigers will square off in Atlanta to determine who truly is the top team in the SEC.
Here are your Week 14 SEC Power Rankings:
1. Auburn (11-1, 7-1) – Last Week: 3; Beat Alabama, 34-28
With so much attention on Chris Davis’ game-winning return, it’s easy to forget that the Tigers rolled up 296 rushing yards against Alabama’s vaunted defense. The single-season turnaround from first-year coach Gus Malzahn is nothing short of remarkable. Auburn gets a chance to cap its dream season Saturday in Atlanta when it faces Missouri for the SEC championship.
2. Missouri (11-1, 7-1) – Last Week: 2; Beat Texas A&M, 28-21
All this talk about Auburn has to be burning the ears of every player on the Missouri roster. The Missouri Tigers, after all, could easily be undefeated and the No. 2 team in the nation if not for a double-overtime loss to the No. 8 team in the nation when they were without QB1 James Franklin. Missouri takes its shot at the SEC championship Saturday in Atlanta, where it gets 60 minutes with Auburn.
3. Alabama (11-1, 7-1) – Last Week: 1; Lost at Auburn, 34-28
The two-time defending champion Crimson Tide came out tight against Auburn and ultimately paid. Four missed field goals, including the one famously returned 109 yards for the game-winning touchdown, also cost Alabama. Still, Nick Saban’s team is bound for a BCS at-large berth.
4. South Carolina (10-2, 6-2) – Last Week: 4; Beat Clemson, 31-17
A two-touchdown victory over rival Clemson locked up another regular-season, top-10 finish for the Gamecocks, who continue to get locked out of the BCS in spite of their success. Steve Spurrier’s team has now beaten the Tigers five consecutive times.
5. LSU (9-3, 5-3) – Last Week: 5; Beat Arkansas, 31-27
QB2 Anthony Jennings came off the bench and engineered a game-winning, 99-yard drive to help the Tigers narrowly avoid an embarrassing defeat against Arkansas. LSU’s defense – now with a season of experience – should take a significant step forward next year under DC John Chavis.
6. Georgia (8-4, 5-3) – Last Week: 7; Won at Georgia Tech, 41-34 (2OT)
Down 20 on the road to Georgia Tech and without starting QB Aaron Murray, it would have been easy for Georgia to call it a season. Instead, the Bulldogs rallied behind RB Todd Gurley and QB2 Hutson Mason to land the rivalry win.
7. Texas A&M (8-4, 4-4) – Last Week: 6; Lost at Missouri, 28-21
Texas A&M finishes the regular season with eight wins against unranked teams and four losses against ranked teams. A leaky defense never improved to a respectable level, which cost the Aggies in key games.
8. Ole Miss (7-5, 3-5) – Last Week: 8; Lost at Mississippi State, 17-10 (OT)
A putrid offensive effort from the Rebels ended when QB Bo Wallace fumbled while seemingly headed toward the end zone to score a game-tying touchdown. It will be a long year for Ole Miss in terms of in-state bragging rights.
9. Vanderbilt (8-4, 4-4) – Last Week: 9; Beat Wake Forest, 23-21
WR Jordan Matthews wrapped up a stellar career with another 100-yard outing. As was the case all year, Vanderbilt’s offense wasn’t stellar but did enough to help win the game. Coach James Franklin led the Commodores to consecutive eight-win regular seasons for the first time since 1927-28.
10. Mississippi State (6-6, 3-5) – Last Week: 10; Beat Ole Miss, 17-10 (OT)
Injured QB Dak Prescott came off the bench to rally State to tie – and later beat in overtime – in-state rival Ole Miss. Prescott took significant strides this season, adding some badly-needed elements to the Bulldogs offense. The Egg Bowl win means State gets to play during bowl season – almost certainly in the BBVA Compass Bowl.
11. Tennessee (5-7, 2-6) – Last Week: 11; Won at Kentucky, 27-14
Butch Jones should have a far better offense next year, with a tough decision to make between young QBs Josh Dobbs and Riley Ferguson. However, the Volunteers must find additional defensive speed and talent to improve dramatically.
12. Arkansas (3-9, 0-8) – Last Week: 12; Lost at LSU, 31-27
For a team that lost its last nine games, Arkansas showed improvement as the season wore on. Coach Bret Bielema will win in Fayetteville. He just needs time to put his players in place. The Razorbacks narrowly missed on an improbable upset win over LSU.
13. Florida (4-8, 3-5) – Last Week: 13; Lost to Florida State, 37-7
It seems unfair that Florida finishes the SEC Power Rankings below a team that went 0-8 in league play and lost its last nine games. Then again, if Arkansas and Florida played at the end of the season, it seems perfectly believable that the Razorbacks would have won. Coach Will Muschamp returns next year, though likely on a very short leash.
14. Kentucky (2-10, 0-8) – Last Week: 14; Lost to Kentucky, 27-14
First-year coach Mark Stoops thought he knew the situation he inherited. Now he definitely knows what he faces. The Wildcats will open next year trying to snap a 16-game SEC losing streak.
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