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SEC Power Rankings: Let Conference Play Begin

Turns out Nick Saban must be reading these. And he said he doesn't pay attention to the rankings...

Kevin C. Cox

That's the only explanation I can come up with because after falling to the No. 2 spot a week ago, Alabama came out and put together its best performance of the season.

Without further adieu...

1) Alabama (5-0, 2-0, SEC, Last Week: 2)- Last week's drop in these Power Rankings really lit a fire under Alabama. The Tide's defense looked as good as it has all season long while shutting out one of the SEC's more explosive offenses. With upcoming games with Georgia State (57-point favorites) and Kentucky in its next two games, Alabama will go for its first three consecutive shutouts since 1966. After those cupcakes, Bama hosts Arkansas...

2) Georgia (3-1, 2-0, LW: 4)- No more doubting the Mark Richt-Aaron Murray combo in big games during the regular season for me. The duo found away to stave off their emotions against former Bulldog Zach Mettenberger and beat LSU, a team I thought had played the best ball in the league thus far. The Bulldogs still have a shot at the final BCS title game if they can remain perfect. They should, as they are favorites in every remaining regular season contest.

3) LSU (4-1, 1-1, LW: 3)- A loss the road against one of the best teams in the country is nothing to be ashamed about. However, with the loss, their chances of a revenge game in Atlanta will be in the balance when the Tigers play Alabama, another road game against one of the best teams in the country.

4) Texas A&M (4-1, 1-1 LW: 3)- It wasn't a replay of the savant performance Johnny Manziel put on the Razorbacks a year ago, but he did come away with an SEC road win.

5) South Carolina (3-1, 1-1, LW: 5)- And now you see why schools don't like playing away games out of conference. The Gamecocks lost their starting quarterback, Connor Shaw, in the first quarter. Without him, it took the rest of the half for Steve Spurrier to crack the code on offense. It involved a lot of running back Mike Davis. If Shaw remains unable to go, look for that trend to continue.

6) Ole Miss (3-0, 1-1, LW: 6)- An upset win over Alabama would have put the Rebels at 4-0 for the first time in 43 years. Instead, Ole Miss was shutout for the first time since the Razorbacks did it since 1998. It was their 10th straight loss to Alabama; the Hugh Freeze love will at least 'cool' down for a few weeks.

7) Florida (3-1, 2-0 LW: 7)- Running back Matt Jones (176 yards) outgained Kentucky (173) by himself in the best all-around game on the young season for the Gators. New starter Tyler Murphy wasn't atrocious, a step in the right direction for the quarterback position in Gainesville.

8) Missouri (4-0, LW: 8)- The Tigers are the only team yet to play a conference game which sets them up for eight straight league foes over the next nine weeks. The offense has performed at a level we thought we would see a year ago, averaging 45 points per game, good for ninth in the country.

9) Vanderbilt (3-2, 0-2, LW: 9)- Vandy, looking to redeem itself after a miserable winning performance against UMass, made sure UAB, which lost to LSU earlier, finished their SEC schedule at 0-2. The 'Dores host Mizzou on Saturday night in a game that could be the determining factor in finishing third or fourth in the SEC East and seventh and eighth in these Power Rankings. Hold your excitement. The bigger news out of Nashville is that coach James Franklin's name is all over "watch lists" for the USC gig.

10) Auburn (3-1, 1-1 LW: 10)- Off this week, the Tigers host the Rebels will certainly be looking for revenge on anything to do with the state of Alabama after being embarrassed across the border this week.

11) Arkansas (3-2, 0-1 LW: 11)- The good news is, it could have been a lot worse. Sure the Razorbacks dropped their SEC opener this week, but they were down less than a touchdown in the third quarter.

12) Mississippi State (2-2, 0-1, LW: 13)- By virtue of their off week and Tennessee's near ineptness to beat a first-year FBS school, the Bulldogs move up a spot. LSU comes to town this week. Good luck!

13) Tennessee (3-2, 0-1, LW: 12)- The only saving grace for the Vols not being in the last spot is that Kentucky plays its football in the SEC, too. They sneak in to the No. 13 spot by the slimmest of margins, like their win on Saturday where Tennessee forced an interception in the end zone to hold off South Alabama's fourth down attempt for a chance at a tie.

14) Kentucky (1-2, LW: 13)- The Gators offense is nothing special yet the Wildcats gave up 24 points (2nd most this season for UF) and over 400 yards of offense. Losing to Florida is almost a forgone conclusion. The last time Kentucky beat Florida the Super Bowl Shuffle was all the rage.

Basketball practice starts this week.


A native of Arkansas now calling the Hogs from yonder in Georgia, you can follow Graham on Twitter @grahamreaves or read his blog, On My Mind In Georgia.