March 2, 2021

Week eight SEC power rankings

Alabama distanced themselves as the top team in the SEC after they dismantled Tennessee in Neyland. How far did a road loss to Arkansas drop Ole Miss? Is LSU back? Find out in the week 8 SEC Power Rankings

Tennessee football players #7 Rashaan Gaulden and #22 Micah Abernathy

Has there ever been a wider margin between the top team in the SEC and the rest of the conference? Alabama delivered quite the statement win against Tennessee on Saturday. Meanwhile, Florida blew past Missouri, proving again why they are a top-ranked defense. Ole Miss lost again, which begs the question, are the Rebels the best three-loss team? Or is their season about to spiral out of control? Quarterback Chad Kelly had a rough weekend. Can’t help but feel bad for a guy losing on the field and in the DMs.

In other news, Georgia’s season is derailing after a shocking home loss to Vanderbilt. They’ve now lost three of their past four games. Shocking considering the Bulldogs looked so good against North Carolina to open the season. The jury’s still out on Texas A&M, who travels to Bryant Denny Stadium to take on the Crimson Tide.

As for the remainder of the SEC, the bottom four or five teams continue to play bad football. Luckily for Kentucky and South Carolina fans, a bye week meant they weren’t reminded of that on Saturday. For the middle tier of the SEC, are any of these teams actually good? Each team has talent at various position groups paired with glaring holes. Granted, these teams are worthy of being ranked, but are any of these teams capable of flirting with a potential top-10 ranking?

Here are the SEC power rankings following week seven as we head into the eighth week of the season.

1.  Alabama (7-0 4-0 SEC)

Last week: 1

Is this Nick Saban’s best team? The defense continues to dominate and Jalen Hurts running ability has provided an interesting dynamic to the Crimson Tide’s rushing attack. Hurts finished the day with just over 150 rushing yards and three touchdowns. His arm continues to limit what they can do with their passing attack to an extent, but as long as he’s making plays with his legs, no one’s complaining.

Is there a single weakness in this defense? Outside of Minkah Fitzpatrick, who struggled covering Josh Malone, everyone else on the unit played exceptional football. They gave up only 163 totals yards to a Tennessee offense which recorded nearly 700 against Texas A&M the previous weekend. Not only did they hold both Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara to under three yards per carry, but the Crimson Tide’s pass rush affected Josh Dobbs on more than half of his drop backs. Alabama’s already defeated three ranked SEC teams on the road. It’s hard to imagine anyone in this conference taking down the Crimson Tide this year.

This week: vs. No. 6 Texas A&M

2. Texas A&M (6-0 4-0 SEC)

Last week: 2

The bye week came at a perfect time for the Aggies. Not only did it give star defensive end Myles Garrett an extra week to get back to 100 percent, but gaining seven more days to prepare for a road game at Alabama doesn’t hurt. Then again, will it really matter? Texas A&M currently enters Saturday’s contest against the defending champs as 17-point underdogs, which isn’t as crazy as one would think. Given the Aggies’ serious tackling issues, Hurts and the Crimson Tide running game might have a field day against this defense. So far, no team has put together four complete quarters together against Alabama. If Texas A&M is truly a top-10 team, Saturday will prove its worth.

This week: at No. 1 Alabama

3. Tennessee (5-2 3-2 SEC)

Last week: 3

Saturday’s blowout loss to the Crimson Tide proved a couple of things. First, Butch Jones’ program is still a long ways away from nearing Nick Saban’s territory. Second, the injuries—particularly on defense—finally caught up to the Vols. Luckily, Tennessee should have linebackers Darrin Kirkland Jr. and Cortez McDowell back for the final portion of the season. Offensively, the Vols never stood a chance against Alabama’s front seven and proved it couldn’t hang with the big boys. However, Tennessee still faces a lighter second half of the season that should propel them to Atlanta for the SEC Championship in December.

This week: Bye 

4. Florida (5-1 3-1 SEC)

Last week: 5

The defense carried Florida to its 40-14 victory over Missouri, holding the Tigers to less than 100 yards passing while recording consecutive interceptions returned for touchdowns that ballooned a 6-0 lead into a 20-0 lead right before halftime. Quarterback Luke Del Rio was shaky in his return to action. Fortunately for him, the Gator ground attack made up for his three interceptions and collected over 275 yards.

This Week: Bye

 5Auburn (4-2 2-1 SEC)

Last week: 6

Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers face off against Arkansas at home before taking on Ole Miss the week after, making it a critical stretch for the team and its highly scrutinized head coach. Before their bye week, the Tigers won three straight games due in large part to a stout defense led by stud defensive end Carl Lawson. As long as the running game continue to mask the turbulent quarterback situation, Auburn can compete against any opponent.

This week: vs No. 17 Arkansas

6. Arkansas (5-2 1-2 SEC)

Last week: 8

Arkansas finally grabbed that elusive SEC win and did so in impressive fashion over Ole Miss. They dominated the clock, holding the ball for over 40 minutes. In addition, the defense made life uncomfortable for Rebel quarterback Chad Kelly. Although Austin Allen’s performance at quarterback wasn’t sexy, his ability to manage the clock allowed him to out duel his counterpart.

This week: at No. 21 Auburn

7. LSU (4-2 2-1 SEC)

Last week: 7

It was only Southern Miss, but Saturday’s 45-10 victory reminded fans just how talented this LSU team is. Leonard Fournette isn’t available? That’s fine. Sophomore running back Derrius Guice looks like a star himself. The Baton Rouge native has averaged over 150 yards per game in his three starts on a staggering nine yards per carry. The Tigers also excelled in each phase on the defensive side of the ball. Although the quarterback situation hasn’t sorted itself out, the running game and defense has returned to form.

This week: vs. No. 23 Ole Miss

8. Ole Miss (3-3 1-2 SEC)

Last week: 4

Could a road loss to a ranked opponent really push Ole Miss this far down in the rankings? Outside of tight end Evan Engram, the Rebels haven’t received consistent play from a multitude of positions, which includes their quarterback. The pass rush did its part against Arkansas, but the defense was still on the field for 40 minutes. This team has the talent to respond and finish strong, but it remains to be seen if they can put together a complete game.

This week: at No. 25 LSU

9. Georgia (4-3 2-3 SEC)

Last week: 9

Dawgs…y’all lost at home…to Vanderbilt?! That’s just…that’s bad. Give the Commodores credit for shutting down the lethal rushing duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michele. The two combined to average under 2.5 yards per carry and failed to complement Nick Eason’s impressive bounce-back performance. Georgia’s defense played exceptional, but thanks to a pair of long special team returns by Vanderbilt, the Commodores were able to score two touchdowns on short field.

This week: Bye

10. Missouri (2-4 0-3 SEC)

Last week: 10

Missouri has played poorly enough to move down, but fortunately for them, the rest of the conference is that underwhelming. On Saturday, they suffered through yet another blowout loss on the road. Over the past two weeks, they’ve lost to Florida and LSU by a combined 61 points. However, the next four weeks are manageable after an inconsistent start of the season. The Tigers have wins over Eastern Michigan and Delaware State, but they’ve averaged under 20 points in the other four games.

This week: vs. MTSU

11. Vanderbilt (3-4 1-3 SEC)

Last Week: 14

Vanderbilt’s defense and special teams deserve all the credit for Saturday’s stunner in Athens. Linebacker Zach Cunningham had one of the best individual performance of the week. He was an absolute force against Georgia’s vaunted rushing attack. On the other side of the ball, the offense continues to struggle. To put it lightly, they’ve been very hard to watch. Credit them for taking advantage of long special team returns and converting them into touchdowns. But at the end of the day, this still isn’t a good football team, even though they’ve lost three conference games by a combined 17 points.

This week: vs. Tennessee State

12. Mississippi State (2-4 1-2 SEC)

Last Week: 11

A road overtime loss to BYU is nothing for Mississippi State to be ashamed about, but it’s more proof that this team isn’t good enough to finish games. The defense played well and continues to be the team’s strength, holding the Cougars to around three yards per rush and the passing game to under six yards per completion. Once again, the offense failed to produce. The Bulldogs failed to take advantage of their opportunities in regulation. It ultimately cost them in overtime.

This week: at Kentucky

13. Kentucky (3-3 2-2 SEC)

Last week: 13

Winners of three of its last four, Kentucky enjoyed a bye week last weekend. Will they continue to shock the SEC and win more games? Neither of the Wildcats’ next two opponents (Mississippi State and Missouri) serve much of a threat. Even when two bad teams play, one team has to come out victorious.

This week: vs. Mississippi State

14. South Carolina (2-4, 1-4 SEC)

Last Week: 12

Wait…South Carolina and Kentucky both had byes…why did the Wildcats jump them? Does it really matter? Both are bad football teams. At least the Gamecocks get to play UMass this week. Maybe they’ll finally score more than 20 points in a game! The defense surrendered less than 30 points in every game over the first half of the season. Unfortunately, if they give up more than 14 points, a loss is all but imminent thanks to a putrid offense. Yikes.

This week: vs. UMass

Edited by David Bradford

Featured image by Sumner Gilliam

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