With five all-SEC matchups, Week 4 was the true kickoff for the conference slate after the obligatory opening few weeks of out-of-conference play. Several marquee matchups gave us a better idea of who's who in the conference, so there will definitely be some movement in these rankings. Ahead of the first week with SEC teams only playing each other, featuring clashes like Florida at Kentucky and LSU at Ole Miss, let's dig into some SEC power rankings.
1- Georgia (4-0)
The back-to-back national champs are not likely to move from this perch anytime soon, but it's hard to say that their performance against UAB was particularly impressive. The Blazers answered UGA's opening touchdown to make it a 7-7 game early in the second quarter, and they even hung around enough that the game wasn't quite over at halftime, with a score of 28-14.
Of course, a win is a win, and Georgia did end up winning by 28 points, but this is a UAB team whose previous two games were multi-score losses to Georgia Southern and Louisiana-Lafayette. Paired with a strangely competitive battle with South Carolina a week ago, it's not hard to wonder what might happen when the Bulldogs start playing some more high-end squads.
This week, they have to visit Auburn, who has impressed at times but is coming off of a rough loss to Texas A&M. If Georgia once again looks far from their best selves, especially quarterback Carson Beck, it'll officially be time to start asking if the SEC might be a little bit more open than we may have thought.
2- LSU (3-1)
After their season-opening loss to FSU, the Tigers have roared back and picked up three straight wins. They're notably 2-0 in the SEC, meaning that while the FSU loss was a disappointment and a big missed resume piece, this team still has the same path to winning the SEC as they did before that contest.
The most recent win was a close one over Arkansas that required a last-second field goal to secure the victory. The defense still hasn't come together quite in the way that many had hoped it would with elite pieces like Maason Smith and Harold Perkins, but the offense has definitely come to life with Jayden Daniels playing some of his best ball in recent memory.
LSU's College Football Playoff hopes are alive but not necessarily well, and they'll be all but snuffed out with another loss, making this week's visit to a ranked Ole Miss squad absolutely pivotal. If LSU is able to head into Oxford and come out with a win, they'll be officially back on the National stage as a legitimate contender
3- Alabama (3-1)
If you thought Alabama was done, or Nick Saban was washed up, you were sorely mistaken. There are definitely still some questions about this team's ceiling, the most prominent of which is just how far they can go with Jalen Milroe at quarterback as he continues to struggle. But the win over Ole Miss was a massive one, and holding that caliber of offense to just 10 points is highly impressive.
Jase McClellan put in a performance reminiscent of past star Alabama runners, and was the centerpiece of the offense in the key win. Like LSU, Alabama still has not lost in the SEC, with their lone loss coming to Texas, so they have as clear of a path as anyone to make it all the way to the semifinals this season, and it's never wise to count Saban out.
This week, they're visiting a Mississippi State team that has not been too impressive so far this season, but definitely has the potential to score some points. The defense will need to lead the way once more on the road, or else we'll learn if the offense is up to the task of taking part in a shootout.
4- Ole Miss (3-1)
Ole Miss hung in there playing in Tuscaloosa, and even went into the locker room with a 7-6 halftime lead in what turned out to be a stiff defensive battle. But the offense was nowhere to be found down the stretch, as they scored just three points in the second half via a long field goal from Caden Davis.
This team rounds out the group that can be considered the class of this year's SEC, and we're not going to move them down too far for losing at Alabama, which even great teams tend to do, but we'll need to see a bounce back performance from quarterback Jaxson Dart, lead runner Quinshon Judkins, and really the entire Rebels offense if we're going to view them as a competitor in this conference going forward.
That could start with the home matchup this week against LSU, another team with high aspirations who suffered an early loss this year. If the Rebels drop this one, their hot start will officially be a thing of the past, and we'll have to look past them when we evaluate the SEC West race going forward.
5- Missouri (4-0)
Missouri was one of the few SEC teams to be in out-of-conference play this past weekend, as they gave a decent Memphis team their first loss of the season. Mizzou was able to win the game by a touchdown as they forced a couple of turnovers, but allowed Memphis to move the ball a bit more than they would have probably liked.
The defense still needs to show that it can be half of a strong team in the SEC, but quarterback Brady Cook has continued to quietly put up one of the better passing seasons in the conference, as he tossed two touchdowns and racked up 341 yards this weekend.
That win over Kansas State is a really nice resume piece, but we really still have yet to find out who this team really is. They're playing Vanderbilt this week, which is their first SEC game of the year, but we'll have to wait another week to see them play LSU and be truly tested within conference play for the first time.
6- Kentucky (4-0)
Kentucky still hasn't lost a game yet, but as they haven't really played anyone, there's only so high they can rise. Their wins so far have come over Group of Five opposition, as well as Vanderbilt, so the upcoming matchup with Florida will be a huge test, and we'll learn much more about this Wildcats squad.
Devin Leary turned in a concerning performance this weekend as he was picked off twice by the Commodores, who should really be doing no such thing against a quarterback who was considered by many going into the season to be one of the SEC's best. His turnover problem is real, as he's thrown picks in each game so far, and that will have to be ironed out before facing the elite of this conference.
That Florida game is the first of a brutal stretch for Kentucky, as they'll play a bevy of ranked opponents over the next month or so including Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee, and Alabama. If this team can win even half of those games, it'll likely be through improved play from Leary, and would likely be rewarded with a spot in the rankings,
7- Florida (3-1)
Florida took care of business against Charlotte, and with three straight wins to a season-opening loss to Utah, including that big victory over Tennessee, the Gators are in a very good place as they prepare for Kentucky.
Graham Mertz has settled in nicely after a rough debut against a tough Utes defense, which has helped the team to a 4-0 start against challenging opposition with quarterback Cam Rising still out. The Wisconsin transfer has really taken to his new system, as he leads all Power Five passers in adjusted completion percentage.
The Kentucky game will be an important measure for how far this team has come since opening day. If they're able to walk away with the road win, it will officially be time to start considering them to be a serious force in this conference, although it's hard to really consider the ceiling too high for any SEC East team with Georgia still in the division.
8- Texas A&M (3-1)
After A&M and Jimbo Fisher looked completely cooked in a loss to Miami, they roared back for a resounding win over an Auburn team that had looked pretty decent to start the year. The Aggies had to turn to their backup quarterback but still ripped off 27 points against an Auburn defense that hadn't allowed more than 14 points in any game so far, and absolutely stifled Payton Thorne and the rest of the Tiger offense.
Texas A&M will host Arkansas this week, which will be another important matchup for Fisher as he looks to cool down his seat a bit, but then the season really kicks into high gear with Alabama coming to town, and then visits to Tennessee and Ole Miss in a span of three weeks. This could be the stretch that finally puts an end to Fisher's tenure at A&M, but if they can pick up even a couple wins from those clashes, the team and coach will be in a much better position.
9- Tennessee (3-1)
Tennessee just about did their job this week with a not-close win over UTSA. This one was over by halftime, as the Volunteers were up 31-0, and when all was said and done, they had accumulated 512 yards of offense compared to 319 for their opponents, despite playing second-stringers for much of the second half.
There are definitely still valid concerns about Michigan transfer QB Joe Milton, especially around his accuracy, but his excellent arm talent has shone through enough to still have some hope for this team and their ceiling. The schedule is pretty favorable outside of a couple of games, so after a shaky start, the Vols could be in for a pretty nice season.
10- Auburn (3-1)
Auburn took a tumble in this week's rankings after a fairly lifeless loss to Texas A&M, in which their only touchdown was a wild fumble return scoop-and-score. Payton Thorne looked like the quarterback he was in his last year at Michigan State, while two other passers got reps for the Tigers and weren't any more effective.
The Hugh Freeze era is not off to an incredible start, as a 3-1 record means little to this fanbase if the loss is the team's lone SEC matchup to date. The new head coach was admittedly not dealt an incredible hand, but with Georgia, LSU, and Ole Miss the next three teams on the schedule, it's hard to see how he avoids an early hot seat if the team dips down to 3-4, so he will need to find an upset somewhere.
11- South Carolina (2-2)
The Gamecocks secured a much-needed win against fellow SEC bottom-dweller Mississippi State after suffering early hard fought losses against North Carolina and Georgia. Spencer Rattler had probably his best game with South Carolina, as he completed 18 out of 20 passes including three touchdowns and no picks.
The offensive line is still an enormous concern for this team- Mississippi State just wasn't able to exploit it. That unit will be pushed much more in coming weeks with games against ranked opponents Tennessee, Florida, and Missouri, so if the Gamecocks want to hold on and pick up some wins in that stretch, they'll surely need improved play from that group paired with more solid performances from Rattler and his receivers.
12- Arkansas (2-2)
Arkansas earned the rare distinction of moving up in this list despite a loss, as they pushed a good LSU team right to the brink and frankly, the following two teams have put in pretty dismal performances thus far. Quarterback KJ Jefferson made some huge plays in the close call, but ultimately his two picks were a backbreaker for a Razorbacks team that needed to be nearly perfect to pull off the upset.
There are no "moral victories" in the SEC, but the Hogs should be encouraged going forward. They're catching a talented but vulnerable A&M squad in Fayetteville next, but then it's Ole Miss and Alabama before the schedule tapers off a bit, so Sam Pittman and his squad will need to tune up quite a bit to pull off some upsets, especially on the defensive side where they allowed 34 points to LSU and 38 at home against BYU.
13- Mississippi State (2-2)
Losing to a team with no offensive line is never a good thing, so after two consecutive completely flat defensive performances, the Bulldogs are moving down to just one spot away from the SEC cellar. They hold the distinction of being the only team so far to be 0-2 in SEC play, which is partly bad luck due to an early start to conference play for them compared to the competition, but also speaks to the real fact that this squad is not a force to be reckoned with in this conference.
The Bulldogs are overwhelmingly likely to move to 0-3 in the conference as they host Alabama next week, but the schedule is friendly enough that they could steal some wins later; they don't play another currently-ranked team until the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss in the final week. Bowl eligibility is likely the ceiling for this team, but after the challenging end to last season with the tragic loss of head coach Mike Leach, it would be an accomplishment to be proud of.
14- Vanderbilt (2-3)
After stumbling through the non-conference portion of their schedule, Vanderbilt took an uncompetitive home loss to Kentucky to kick off their SEC season. The Wildcats scored the first 24 points, and the game was rather predictably over heading into the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately, as bad as things have been so far for Vanderbilt, they're only likely to get worse. They'll play their first ranked opponent this week when Missouri comes to town, and then they'll have to face Florida, Georgia, and Ole Miss. The Commodores have managed to score some points with a solid start to the year for running back duo Patrick Smith and Sedrick Alexander, but their defense is not up to par in this conference, and they're not likely to be able to stay in too many games the rest of the way.
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