The SEC power rankings for this week are out, and there has been some significant movement.
With almost a month of the season gone, we're starting to get a good idea of who's who in college football, but conference schedules still have yet to kick into full swing.
In Week 4, that's going to change in a big way as ten Southeastern Conference teams will be in action against one another, and we'll start to get an even better idea of the pecking order in football's most dominant conference. Key matchups like Auburn at Texas A&M and Ole Miss at Alabama will grace our screens, so let's get into some SEC power rankings and see how these teams all stack up
1- Georgia (3-0)
They're the two-time defending National champs, and they're going to be here until they prove that they shouldn't be, although they came uncomfortably close to doing so in week three, as they were down 14-3 to a questionable South Carolina squad at halftime this week.
The offense stalled out multiple times, and there are very real questions to be asked as to whether or not Carson Beck is the man for the job when it comes to filling the empty shoes left by Stetson Bennett. Still, this team's champion pedigree shone through, they stood tough and picked up the home win on the shoulders of their extremely talented defense.
Still, they look shakier than in years past, and it's fair to wonder what they'll look like on the road, and of course against more-elite teams. But the schedule is soft enough that we won't get to know for at least a few weeks, and the 'Dawgs have plenty of time to get up to full speed by then.
2- Ole Miss (3-0)
The Lane Train just keeps chugging along, as his Ole Miss Rebels are 3-0 to start the year for the third straight year. Week three was a comfortable win over Georgia Tech, after a highly entertaining road triumph over a Tulane team that was missing star QB Michael Pratt.
It's hard to know what might have happened had Pratt been healthy, and we'd likely know a whole lot more about Ole Miss's ceiling, but we're about to learn a lot more when they roll into Tuscaloosa this week for a meeting with Alabama. This isn't the toughest Tide team of all time, as we'll discuss in a bit, but it's never a free win.
If Kiffin is able to ride a stout offensive line and the backfield of QB Jaxson Dart and halfback Quinshon Judkins to the huge road win and a 4-0 record, it'll officially be time to asking if this can be the Ole Miss team to finally make a push for the division and conference titles, or if they'll crash hard down the stretch like last year's group.
3- LSU (2-1)
LSU started the year off by losing to Florida State and thus missing an opportunity to pick up a huge resume piece, but that loss did not affect their SEC prospects. The team has responded perfectly too, by dominating FCS Grambling State and starting their conference schedule off in style with a 41-14 road win at Mississippi State.
Week one can be an extremely fluky time, and it's encouraging to see the Tigers right back to playing like the team we imagined they could be over the offseason. QB Jayden Daniels looked much more like the Heisman dark horse he was viewed as over the offseason with 361 passing yards on 88.2% completion, as well as two touchdowns each through the air and on the ground.
He's probably not going to make a push for college football's most prestigious award after missing out on the resume piece of beating FSU, but having him play at a high level does wonders for this team's ceiling. If defensive pieces like Harold Perkins and Maason Smith can get going, this team could be a real disruptor in the conference race.
4- Alabama (2-1)
After 128 consecutive AP Polls, Alabama has fallen out of the top ten for the first time in about eight years. The Tide went down to #13, and they didn't even have to lose to do it, although the lethargic performance by Texas, who beat Alabama at home a week earlier, probably did not help. Alabama of course was not very sharp either, as they needed a late field goal to go into halftime tied against USF, and only won 17-3.
The big story for Alabama going forward is the quarterback position. Yes, this roster has holes elsewhere, and Nick Saban has accomplished incredible things with less than elite passers, but the options this year might be the worst yet.
Jalen Milroe was horrible against Texas as he cost Alabama the game in so many ways, and was rightfully benched, but Tyler Buchner was absolutely inexcusable against USF as he completed just five of 14 passes for 34 yards. If Saban can't find a quarterback, it's hard to say just how far this team can go.
5- Missouri (3-0)
Mizzou spent week three picking up one of the biggest wins of the SEC season thus far, albeit outside of conference play. They beat #15 Kansas State, last year's Big 12 champions, and they did it in incredibly dramatic fashion as kicker Harrison Mevis drilled a 61 yard field goal as time expired, the longest kick in SEC history.
The issue is that the Tigers' previous game was against Middle Tennessee, and the margin was far too close for comfort. If they want to keep rising through the ranks in a competitive SEC, they'll need to find more consistency.
The defense especially needs work, as it ranks 12th in the conference as per PFF. QB Brady Cook has done it all with efficient passing and a team-best three touchdowns on the ground, and wideout Luther Burden has been a great top option, but the duo have been relatively alone and will need more support to beat the SEC's best.
6- Kentucky (3-0)
After rising as high as #7 in the polls last year but crashing down to finish a barely-winning season, Kentucky will be looking to build on the positives and find some consistency this season. Unfortunately, while they're 3-0 so far, they've been unspectacular in doing their job and dispatching two MAC opponents and FCS Eastern Kentucky.
The big question for this team would be how they would move on after the departure of NFL-bound QB Will Levis, and they attempted to answer it by bringing in transfer Devin Leary from NC State. After a spectacular 2021 and an injury-marred 2022, Leary has not been quite back to form.
He tossed just five interceptions compared to 35 touchdowns across 12 games in that breakout 2021 season, but he's thrown one in each game thus far, fairly concerning given the quality of competition. Maybe it's the adjustment to a new team, or maybe the supporting cast is that problematic; only time will tell, and while Vanderbilt this week may not be a huge test, #25 Florida in week five could be.
7- Auburn (3-0)
Unlike Kentucky, Auburn had a total void at quarterback last season, but more similarly to the Wildcats, they also turned to the transfer portal. They grabbed Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne, who has continued to be fairly inconsistent.
The Tigers are 3-0, so nobody will complain, but Thorne threw two picks in the most recent win against FCS Samford. He's run the ball well, which is a positive as Auburn fills the void left by Tank Bigsby, as well as QB Robby Ashford who ran well last season.
The win over California was a nice road triumph, although the defense really did the heavy lifting, and if Auburn wants to compete in the SEC, they'll need a lot more from their new signal-caller.
8- Florida (2-1)
It's been quite the up-and-down start to the season for Florida, who actually find themselves at #25 in the AP poll- but do they deserve to be there? The Gators started the year by losing to a Utah team without Cam Rising, and looking pretty poor in the process, a result not helped by the fact that Utah has looked quite ordinary in their more recent two games.
Florida, yet another team starting a transfer QB in former Wisconsin Badger Graham Mertz, has righted the ship to a degree with a nice win over Tennessee, but as we'll discuss in a moment, it's fair to wonder if the Vols shot themselves in the foot more than the Gators actually went out and did positive things on the field.
PFF considers the Gators' offense to be the worst in the SEC, due to shoddy play from linemen and skill players alike, so even with an average or better defense, Mertz and company will need to pick it up to keep this team afloat when SEC play starts in earnest. In fact, Florida is the worst SEC team overall in the rating site's rankings, so the offense is truly dragging down the entire squad in the eyes of evaluators.
9- Tennessee (2-1)
This Tennessee team looks completely different than the one that challenged for conference and National titles until late last season. Gone are quarterback Hendon Hooker and his top wideout Jalin Hyatt, both in the NFL these days. Now it's the Joe Milton era, and it doesn't seem promising.
Josh Heupel's squad features a relatively improved defense headlined by edge rushers Tyler Baron and James Pearce Jr., but the group had some serious lapses this weekend against Florida. They get a bit of a break with UTSA coming to town, and a soft start to the SEC slate with home games against South Carolina and Texas A&M, but by the end of October, we'll know much more about this team's true ceiling.
10- South Carolina (1-2)
Speaking of South Carolina, their offensive line has been a complete, unmitigated disaster at times, such as the nine-sack performance they allowed UNC's defense to register on opening day. Granted, they've had a tougher opening schedule than most teams with the North Carolina game as well as a visit to Georgia, but Shane Beamer's squad is 1-2 with their backs against the wall.
After the upcoming clash with Mississippi State, things get tough with games against Tennessee and Florida, both of whom are currently ranked. If the line can stop ruining what has in some ways been a nice bounce-back season for Spencer Rattler, and the defensive front can rise from the SEC cellar, as PFF views them as the only team even close to as poor as Florida thus far, this team can make a push for bowl eligibility and pick up some nice wins along the way, but it might be an uphill battle.
11- Mississippi State (2-1)
Mississippi State needed overtime to stave off a rough Arizona team at home, and then served as the victim of an LSU bounce-back win, once again in Starkville. Now they have to go on the road for the first time to face South Carolina, and then will host Alabama, who is down right now, but still quite the handful for a team of this caliber.
One of the heaviest and most challenging tasks of the offseason was to surmise whether starting QB Will Rogers could keep up the pace he established over the last two seasons, or if he was merely another beneficiary of the late, great Mike Leach's legendary Air Raid offense.
Unfortunately, it's looking like the latter; after averaging over 300 passing yards per game in each of his full seasons at the helm under Leach, that number is below 200 to start this season.
There's a lot of season left for Rogers to prove that wrong, so for this team to find success, either he'll have to do just that, or the ground game centered around running back Jo'quavious Marks will have to keep firing on all cylinders.
12- Texas A&M (2-1)
This could finally be the year; Jimbo Fisher's sixth season at the helm of the program for Texas A&M might be the one where his massive contract gets bought out. The only loss this season was an absolute blowout at the hands of Miami, but with two wins against completely subpar opponents, it's hard to derive major positives from the first few games of the season.
The Aggies went 5-7 last season, and despite consistently strong recruiting, haven't ever been strong contenders under Fisher except for the strange, Covid-altered 2020 season. The defense hasn't been tested much outside of the Miami game, but the early returns aren't good. With Auburn coming to town this weekend, A&M will get another test against solid competition, and if they fail as epically as they did in South Florida, real questions will be asked of Fisher and others across the program.
13- Arkansas (2-1)
After playing relatively competitively with Kent State, one of the worst teams in the country, and losing at home to a BYU team that has impressed nobody, things are about as low as they can get for Sam Pittman's Arkansas Razorbacks. Quarterback KJ Jefferson has been a relative positive, as he continues last year's strong play, but there's not a whole lot around him to be happy about.
John Morgan III and Taurean Carter headline a decent defensive line, while Dwight McGlothern and Hudson Clark have shown flashes in the secondary, but there's simply not enough talent on this roster to keep up with the best squads in this conference. A trip to #12 LSU this weekend should be a serious wakeup call, and with a visit to #15 Ole Miss not long after, it's looking like this season could go South fast for the hogs.
14- Vanderbilt (2-2)
Yes, the UNLV program has some talent on the field and an intriguing coaching staff, but as an SEC team, you cannot lose to them and avoid the cellar of these rankings. Bake in a loss to mediocre Wake Forest and a far-too-close win over Hawaii, who lost to a Stanford squad that themselves lost to an FCS team, and you've got a runaway "winner" for the title of worst team in the SEC.
The Commodores are a mess, with stadium renovations permeating into the regular season, and a roster that seems to need a remodel of its own. Head coach Clark Lea is in his third season in Nashville, and if he doesn't quickly start to find the magic that led to big late season wins over Kentucky and Florida, it could easily be his last. This team spiked from two wins in 2021 to five last year, but if that total falls back down, his job is incredibly far from safe.
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