Having already cast my BlogPoll ballot, I now turn to my S.E.C. Power Poll ballot. As you are aware, I was not pleased with the results of last week’s power poll, and I believe the correctness of my position was confirmed by last Saturday’s action. Irrespective of whether my distinguished colleagues agree with me, though, here is my ballot for this week:
1. Georgia: Things could change dramatically next Saturday, when the Bulldogs head to Columbia for a date with the always-dangerous Gamecocks in Williams-Brice Stadium, but, quite frankly, right now, the ‘Dawgs look like the class of the league and it isn’t even close.
2. Florida: The mighty Gators finished strong in a de facto rivalry game against spent volcano Miami (Florida), but seven offensive points in the first three quarters made it clear that the Saurians (whose 345 yards of total offense against the ‘Canes again paled in comparison to Georgia’s 552 yards of total offense against Central Michigan) currently are a distant second to the ‘Dawgs. Once again, that could change very quickly, but the Florida performances from the season’s first two weekends simply failed to measure up to the Georgia performances during that same span.
3. Louisiana State: The Bayou Bengals didn’t play, but, considering how few S.E.C. squads looked good this weekend, that didn’t work to the Fighting Tigers’ detriment.
4. Auburn: The gap between the Plainsmen and the Crimson Tide is extremely thin, but I gave the nod to Tommy Tuberville’s Tigers, who have been merely workmanlike in two solid yet unspectacular victories. Meanwhile . . .
5. Alabama: . . . ‘Bama followed up an exceptional outing against Clemson with a lackluster effort against Tulane which was more in line with the Nick Saban norm in Tuscaloosa. Until further notice, that suggests that the season opener in the Georgia Dome was an aberrational instance of the Tide playing above their heads rather than a harbinger of future dominance. The Armani Bear will make this program better
before leaving for the N.F.L. three years from now over the course of the rest of his career, but Alabama isn’t there yet.
6. Vanderbilt: After beating a M.A.C. team comfortably---a feat, incidentally, which neither Michigan nor Ohio State can claim---the Commodores proceeded to beat South Carolina for the second straight season. There’s only so far a Vandy team as thin as this one can go, but, so far, so good.
Bobby Johnson is pumped that the ‘Dores made the top six. (Photograph by John Raoux/Associated Press.)
7. Kentucky: After winning despite an atrocious performance against Louisville, the Wildcats worked their way into the seventh spot by beating Norfolk State the way they were supposed to do. Yeah, maybe we need to tone down the "S.E.C. rules!" rhetoric a little bit.
8. Ole Miss: Rebel Craig was right . . . Mississippi gave Wake Forest a real game. In Oxford, it likely would have been a win. The eighth-best team in the S.E.C. is roughly as good as the frontrunner in the A.C.C.? Yeah, that sounds about right. (I know I said we should dial back the conference rhetoric a bit, but I didn’t mean that toward the sorry A.C.C.)
9. Tennessee: The Volunteers, like L.S.U., benefited from being idle. Boneheaded play-calling---memo to Dave Clawson: run the danged ball!---kept U.T. from a win in L.A., but, despite the Big Orange’s overtime near-miss on the left coast, they remain a tough threat. Put another way, hey, they didn’t lose to Vanderbilt.
10. South Carolina: They lost to Vanderbilt. Personally, I think this makes the Gamecocks more dangerous rather than less, but that’s a worry for
another day the next several days.
11. Mississippi State: The setback in Ruston was not improved by Louisiana Tech’s subsequent performance in Lawrence, so beating Southeastern Louisiana counted for next to nothing.
12. Arkansas: The Razorbacks needed last-second scores to get by Western Illinois and Louisiana-Monroe. The Hogs’ next five games are at Texas, against Alabama, against Florida, at Auburn, and at Kentucky. Uh, yeah, go ahead and call that 2-5.
A week from now, it will all look very different, of course, but, for the moment, that is how the twelve teams of the Southeastern Conference stack up in comparison to one another. Let me know whether you agree or disagree.