SEC football power rankings, Week 9: LSU shows life, Alabama still the king

SEC power rankings
SEC power rankings /

The LSU Tigers move up in the SEC football power rankings after showing new life while the Alabama Crimson Tide sit firmly on the throne still. 

It was a light slate of SEC football games on Saturday in Week 8 as six teams got the week off ahead of a torrid stretch of games to cap off October and lead us into the start of November. But while there weren’t many contests to speak up in terms of quantity, the four games that did take place were quite telling.

The LSU Tigers’ performance against the South Carolina Gamecocks may have been the most shocking. It appears that an unplanned week off may have done them good as Ed Orgeron’s team showed new life in a resounding victory. We didn’t learn anything new about the Alabama Crimson Tide in a rout of Tennessee but they did lose a star play. Meanwhile, the Missouri Tigers kept turning heads while the Auburn Tigers continued to raise concerns.

So where does that leave the state of the conference and how the 14 teams stack up against one another? Let’s check-in once more with the SEC football power rankings coming into Week 9 and the Halloween slate of games.

SEC football power rankings entering Week 9

Vanderbilt was off in Week 8 and that was really more of a reprieve for fans from having to watch the Commodores. Despite signs of early life against Texas A&M, the ‘Dores have just 26 total points scored over their three games and clearly appear to be the worst team in the vaunted conference.

Another team off in Week 8 that got off to a hot start and has been lamenting every game since Mike Leach and Mississippi State have left a lot to be desired since knocking off LSU in the season-opener. K.J. Costello and the offense are looking for a pulse right now and, until they find it, they’re going to keep getting beat.

Ole Miss had a lead over Auburn in the final two minutes of their Week 8 meeting and seemed to be on their way to a signature victory. Instead, the suspect Rebels defense allowed a 58-yard touchdown pass that cost them the game. Matt Corral has been good but is making a few too many key mistakes to totally make up for a defense that couldn’t stop a team of 11 toddlers on most drives.

After Collin Hill and South Carolina knocked off Auburn last week, the Gamecocks were looking to take down another vaunted SEC football program in LSU. Instead, the Tigers ran all over them while Hill and the offense were unable to muster more than 24 points against a defense that had been more than generous up to this point.

Did anyone actually have Tennessee being competitive against Alabama? Probably not. But it was a quite hapless effort from the Vols as they were routed by the Crimson Tide. There is clear potential with this team but quarterback Jarrett Guarantano continues to limit the ceiling of Jeremy Pruitt’s group.

It wasn’t necessarily shocking that Kentucky lost to Missouri in Week 8 but it was a bit stunning to see how anemic Terry Wilson and Joey Gatewood were in leading the offense, a unit that managed only 10 points. This is another gritty group under Mark Stoops but, as I’ve said all season long, their upside is quite limited.

There might not be a less impressive 3-2 team in college football, much less in SEC football, than the Auburn Tigers. They are not far from being 1-4 on the year as they benefitted from a blown call against Arkansas and needed a last-minute touchdown to beat Ole Miss. Bo Nix is not the superstar many claim he is and the defense remains a full staircase below what the program is used to seeing.

While admitting that they could make me look foolish soon, what LSU showed on Saturday against South Carolina has me impressed. TJ Finley added a dynamic element to an offense that, frankly, has looked good even before the forced change at quarterback. More importantly, the defense showed signs of life, which could mean a big upswing for the Tigers is forthcoming.

Coming into the season, we were rightfully dubious about what Sam Pittman could do immediately with Arkansas but he’s done nothing but impress to this point. Feleipe Franks and the Razorbacks have been one of the pleasant surprises of the year to this point and will have the chance to further prove that in Week 9 when they take on Texas A&M.

Whatever Eli Drinkwitz is serving up to the Missouri Tigers is clearly working. A dominant defensive performance and a rock-solid offensive outing against Kentucky pulled them to 2-2 on the year. Mizzou has a date with Florida in Week 9 and, with the way they’ve been game-planning, they might be able to give the Gators a bit of a scare on Halloween.

Ever since an inauspicious start that featured a narrow win over Vandy and then getting blown out by Bama, Jimbo Fisher and the Texas A&M Aggies seem to have found their footing. Kellen Mond is playing well and the defense is finding its form. If the quarterback can stay consistent — which is never a given with Mond — this team should be No. 2 in the SEC West.

It feels as if it’s been a month since we’ve seen Kyle Trask and the Florida Gators on the field but, even though their last outing was a loss to A&M, we know what this team is. Even if it’s in contrast to other teams of the past from Gainesville, this is one of the SEC’s best offenses with a defense that could be quite problematic against good teams.

Kirby Smart and the Dawgs got the week off to think about their shortcomings, particularly in the second half, against Alabama. It may well be the case that Georgia is still the second-best SEC football team but there is just that much of a gap between Alabama and everyone else. But with the Florida game looming on Nov. 7, we’ll soon find out if that’s actually the case.

Losing Jaylen Waddle for the season flat-out stinks. No one wants to see one of the most electrifying players in college football go down and be lost for the year but that’s the case here. Even still, Alabama didn’t blink as they shellacked Tennessee amid Mac Jones‘ bid for the Heisman Trophy. At this point, it’s hard to see any team truly challenging Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide for the SEC football crown this season.

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