SEC Power Rankings, Week 5: Tennessee makes statement, Ole Miss rebounds

Sep 24, 2016; Knoxville, TN, USA; The Tennessee Volunteers celebrate after a victory over the Florida Gators at Neyland Stadium. Tennessee won 38 to 28. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2016; Knoxville, TN, USA; The Tennessee Volunteers celebrate after a victory over the Florida Gators at Neyland Stadium. Tennessee won 38 to 28. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports /
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Sep 24, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald (7) and line backer DeAndre Ward (28) celebrate after defeating the Massachusetts Minutemen 47-35 at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald (7) and line backer DeAndre Ward (28) celebrate after defeating the Massachusetts Minutemen 47-35 at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports /

Weak Non-Conference Wins

Hey, what do you know? The lowly Vanderbilt Commodores got their second win of the season by beating the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, 31-30 at Bowling Green. If Vanderbilt didn’t choke at home in Week 1 to South Carolina, the ‘Dores could be 3-1. They weren’t beating Georgia Tech with the triple-option in Atlanta Week 3, so let’s be real.

It was nice to see Vanderbilt put up some points against a high-octane Hilltoppers aerial attack. However, surrendering 30 points to a Group of 5 team doesn’t bode well for the Commodores defense in SEC play.

Vanderbilt will reveal its true colors in SEC play. The Commodores have been stout defensively in SEC play under head coach Derek Mason, but passing offense has been a painstakingly embarrassing issue for the ‘Dores the last three years. For now, Vanderbilt is a .500 team.

The Mississippi State Bulldogs improve to 2-2 on the year after beating the UMass Minutemen at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, 47-35. Mississippi State struggled with the Minutemen early in the game but was able to outlast UMass in the deciding fourth quarter.

With two bad losses on the season to South Alabama and LSU, Mississippi State was in jeopardy of losing its grip on a potential bowl bid with a road loss to UMass. A 1-3 (1-1) record would not have been a great way to close out September for the Bulldogs.

Head coach Dan Mullen needs to get two more wins in SEC play to have the Bulldogs bowling. A win over UMass doesn’t mean much, but it puts the Bulldogs in a good spot entering Week 5. Other SEC programs definitely had a worse Saturday than Mississippi State.