It was, to put it mildly, an interesting weekend of SEC football, which clarified the picture only slightly. The Eastern Division crowned a champion, but we are still waiting for one of those Western Division weaklings to show enough gumption to step up to the plate and win the darned thing already! (I kid, I kid.) In my estimation, the twelve current teams in the Southeastern Conference stack up against one another as follows:
1. LSU Tigers (11-0 overall, 7-0 SEC): The Bayou Bengals are on cruise control. I’m really glad Georgia ducked Louisiana State on this year’s schedule. Wait, what? Aw, crap!
2. Alabama Crimson Tide (10-1, 6-1): Nick Saban is most thankful for the fact that three teams whose names begin with "O" all choked this weekend.
3. Arkansas Razorbacks (10-1, 6-1): I hope the Hogs find a way to sneak into the SEC Championship Game, both because I would enjoy giving Bobby Petrino a warm welcome back to the Georgia Dome, and because I’d be glad to know the ‘Dawgs were the title game participant that faced the tougher schedule to get there.
4. Georgia Bulldogs (9-2, 7-1): It could’ve been worse. Instead of leading Kentucky, 12-10, at the half, the Bulldogs could’ve been leading The Citadel, 20-13, at intermission.
5. South Carolina Gamecocks (9-2, 6-2): It could’ve been worse. Instead of leading The Citadel, 20-13, at the half, the Gamecocks could’ve been leading Samford, 14-10, at intermission.
6. Auburn Tigers (7-4, 4-3): It could’ve been worse. Instead of leading Samford, 14-10, at the half, the Plainsmen could’ve been trailing Furman, 22-7, at the end of the first quarter.
7. Florida Gators (6-5, 3-5): It could’ve been worse. Instead of trailing Furman, 22-7, at the end of the first quarter, the Gators could’ve needed instant replay to beat Vanderbilt in overtime at home.
8. Tennessee Volunteers (5-6, 1-6): It could’ve been worse. Instead of being coached by Vince Dooley’s son, the Big Orange could be coached by Urban Meyer’s protégé, in which case the benefit of the doubt separating mediocre squads with identical overall and conference records would’ve broken this tie the other way.
9. Mississippi St. Bulldogs (5-6, 1-6): I go back and forth over whether to regard Dan Mullen as a much less inspiring Sylvester Croom or a much more intelligible Ed Orgeron.
10. Vanderbilt Commodores (5-6, 2-6): For all the sound and fury, Vandy is still a middling Eastern Division team from Tennessee with a whiny coach who is all mouth and has delivered only moral victories. I’ve seen this movie before, and James Franklin should be hired away by Southern California any time now.
11. Kentucky Wildcats (4-7, 1-6): Despite playing a non-conference schedule reminiscent of original Bill Snyder-era Kansas State or Mike Leach-era Texas Tech, the Wildcats still were the first team in the SEC East to be eliminated from bowl contention. Think about that for a minute.
12. Mississippi Rebels (2-9, 0-7): Black bears are presenting themselves to hunters and asking to be shot, just to spare themselves the misery of being associated with this team.
That’s how it looks to me, but, as always, I welcome your feedback in the comments below.