The opening day of October did much to muddy the Southeastern Conference picture, though Saturday clarified (for those who, inexplicably, still harbored doubts) which are the top two teams in the league. From third on down, though, the SEC is a hodgepodge, with several teams having claims for our attention. (For instance, if you’re an Eastern Division team who beat a Western Division team this weekend, raise your hand. Keep ‘em up high while we count.)
Here, from my perspective, are the twelve teams of the SEC, arrayed in order from first to worst:
1. Alabama Crimson Tide (5-0 overall, 2-0 SEC): I may or may not rank the Tide first on my BlogPoll ballot, which is based on resume ranking, but, since this is a power poll, I’m giving the nod to ‘Bama for obliterating two solid SEC squads on consecutive Saturdays.
2. LSU Tigers (5-0, 2-0): Barring an enormous upset, the Alabama-Louisiana State game is going to be a national championship semifinal.
3. Auburn Tigers (4-1, 2-0): You pretty much could’ve ranked the third- through sixth-place teams in any order with a straight face, but I went with the Plainsmen here because they had the most impressive weekend of any of the once-beatens. By the way, if it were up to me, Auburn would be 2-1 in SEC play. I’m just sayin’.
4. South Carolina Gamecocks (4-1, 2-1): Given the defending SEC East champions’ record, and their three-point loss to the No. 3 team in the conference, I think a No. 4 ranking makes perfect sense.
5. Arkansas Razorbacks (4-1, 0-1): The Hogs’ comeback against the Aggies was impressive, but that glaring "1" in the loss column is going to hamper Arkansas for a while.
6. Florida Gators (4-1, 2-1): The good news is that the Sunshine State Saurians are very mortal. The bad news is that all you have to do to beat them is be Alabama.
7. Georgia Bulldogs (3-2, 2-1): This club is three points worse than the fourth-best team in the conference and 14 points better than the tenth- and 11th-best teams in the conference. Any questions? Yeah, me, too.
8. Tennessee Volunteers (3-1, 0-1): I have absolutely no idea what to make of this team at this point. That’s not a notion that’s conducive to sound sleep for this Georgia fan this week.
9. Vanderbilt Commodores (3-1, 1-1): The Commies’ bye week gave me time to reconsider the caliber of the Music City Mariners’ achievements. Also, Vandy’s lone loss looks a little less respectable after Saturday.
10. Mississippi Rebels (2-3, 0-2): I respect the "anyone, anytime, anywhere" gumption that led the Rebs to go on the road as an uppity mid-major and beat an established power like Fresno State on the Bulldogs’ home field. Wait, what?
11. Mississippi St. Bulldogs (2-3, 0-3): The Western Division Bulldogs avoided the cellar, for which the coaching credit belongs to Mike Bobo more than to Dan Mullen.
12. Kentucky Wildcats (2-3, 0-2): Can we just settle the whole conference expansion issue right now by trading the Blue and White to the Big East as part of a Texas A&M/Kentucky/TCU SEC/Big East/Big 12 round-robin deal?
In light of my own uncertainty about the accuracy of my ballot, I certainly would understand if some of you had misgivings, as well, so I welcome your feedback in the comments below.