I’m still soliciting comments on my BlogPoll ballot draft, but there are deadlines to be observed in the interim, one of which concerns my SEC Power Poll ranking of the twelve teams in the league. The strength of the Southeastern Conference is as follows, in descending order:
1. Alabama Crimson Tide (9-0): Against a significantly better class of competition than that faced by the Sunshine State Saurians on Saturday, ‘Bama trailed 7-3 at the break yet outscored the Bayou Bengals 21-8 in the second half. The Red Elephants do what good teams do to win.
2. Florida Gators (9-0): Urban Meyer’s outfit still has a solid shot at becoming the first Florida club of the modern era to go unbeaten, but these Gators aren’t remotely as fear-inducing as the 1995, 1996, and 2008 Orange and Blue teams that made it to the national championship game. The Gators are good, but they’re less than the sum of their parts. They’ll end the regular season unscathed, but, right now, I wouldn’t pick Florida to beat either Alabama or Texas.
3. LSU Tigers (7-2): Louisiana State showed that the gap separating the top two teams in the SEC from the next ten teams was not quite as large as we thought, but it’s still large enough to be notable. This year, that gets you ranked third in the league. I’m thinking we may want to lay off on the "toughest conference in college football" talk for a little bit.
4. Auburn Tigers (7-3): Yes, the Plainsmen gave up 31 points to Furman, but they scored 63 and 28 of the Paladins’ points came in the second half, after Auburn had built up a 42-3 halftime lead. Something tells me Saturday night’s showdown between the hedges will not feature a scintillating display of rock-ribbed defensive prowess. Oh, goody . . . because high-scoring games against the Tigers in Athens worked out so well for the Bulldogs in 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, and 2005! (I hate Auburn.)
5. Mississippi Rebels (6-3): I can’t fault Ole Miss for scoring 38 points on a Division I-AA opponent at home. I can fault the Rebs for surrendering 14 points in the first half. I’m guessing the Northern Arizona players felt right at home in the Grove, what with all those trees, ‘cause there are a boatload of trees in the Flagstaff area. Just so you’ll know.
6. Tennessee Volunteers (5-4): Monte Kiffin’s defense is good, but Lane Kiffin’s timing is better. There has never been a better year to be a rookie head coach in the Southeastern Conference. When, prior to 2009, could a 2-3 record in SEC play be considered success? Is it fair to say Tommy West has just been Kiffined?
7. Arkansas Razorbacks (5-4): Will the real Hogs please stand? Please? Just when you thought it was safe to write off Arkansas, the Razorbacks wallop South Carolina to prove that all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
8. South Carolina Gamecocks (6-4): Steve Spurrier may coach another three or four years in Columbia, but the mystique of the Evil Genius is officially a thing of the past. Another promising season is circling the drain for the Palmetto State Poultry, once again diminishing the value of the Bulldogs’ tough tussle with South Carolina. Thanks for nothing, Gamecocks.
9. Georgia Bulldogs (5-4): The Red and Black did what they were supposed to do against a Division I-AA opponent, which is something they haven’t done since facing the Hawaii Warriors in the 2008 Sugar Bowl. (Oh, stop. The Aloha State parvenus deserved that and you know it.)
10. Mississippi St. Bulldogs (4-5): It’s unfortunate that the NCAA requires a team to win six games to qualify for postseason play, because I’d like to see a bowl game pitting Mississippi State against Connecticut to settle the question of which is the best 4-5 team in America.
11. Kentucky Wildcats (5-4): When does the UK formula for reaching a bowl game start to include beating good teams?
12. Vanderbilt Commodores (2-8): The SEC school known for its smarts is 0-6 in league play and continues to be the doormat of the conference. Maybe foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of big minds, too.
If you have any arguments against any of that, well, frankly, it’s too late for me to change it even if you convince me that I’m wrong, but feel free to register your quarrel with my logic in the comments, anyway. It will make you feel better to get it off your chest, even if it has no impact whatsoever, so have at it.
Go ‘Dawgs! Auburna delenda est!