And here we are again, fumbling around to rank the SEC's football teams one through fourteen. I don't know that the SEC picture is really any clearer, but it seems that way to me. After the utter chaos of recent weeks, teams are beginning to stratify. A few "big picture" thoughts:
- I still think Alabama will shellack Auburn in the Iron Bowl, but I dread the Tigers' November 16th visit to Athens with a passion.
- The drop off between LSU and Georgia is precipitous. That's the line between "good" teams and "bad" teams so to speak. And as we learned during the second and third quarters this weekend, a Georgia squad as currently composed, lacking Todd Gurley, is definitely not a "good" football team.
- The gap between the East and West has once again widened out pretty substantially. Ole Miss is the fifth best West squad in my estimation, and there's not a single team in the East which I would expect to beat them by more than a touchdown.
- While my ballot now diverges from the consensus more that it probably has at any time this season, I now feel more confident than ever before that I have the order correct.
1) Alabama. It's really just boring at this point how gaping the chasm between Alabama and everyone and everything else in the SEC is at this point. I expected Alabama to take a slight step back this season, and I think they have. But everyone else has fallen off far more precipitously, whether due to youth or injury, and the difference is simply glaring.
2) Auburn. It's really hard to verbally express how much this nauseates me. Even more nauseating? The length of time I spent trying to rank Auburn elsewhere, and failing.
3) Texas A&M. Lost to Alabama, then to Auburn by a bit less. Empirical evidence for the win!
4) South Carolina. Betcha Spurrier wishes he could have played Georgia later in the season, huh? [gazes trollingly toward Columbia].
5) Missouri. Beat Tennessee worse than I expected, and showed that they may not take too much of a step backwards next year when Maty Mauk takes over on a full-time basis.
6) LSU. I presume Les Miles spent 3 hours of bye week practice time practicing a fake punt which involves ferrets, lasers, and two of the Robertson brothers from Duck Dynasty. If it works, and if the Bayou Bengals pull the upset in Tuscaloosa, the SEC will have been stripped of its last shred of order, and will become Gotham City with better pork and prettier women.
7) Georgia. Better than Florida. Smile.
8) Ole Miss. Could easily finish 9-3 and beat the stew out of rival Mississippi State. Hats off to Hugh Freeze. Even if the Ole Miss booster community helped with the grocery shopping so to speak, he's whipped up a pretty impressive spread in Oxford.
9) Florida. How ever much the University of Georgia athletic association is paying Will Muschamp out of its super-secret "black ops" budget, it's not enough. He is the prickly, point-averse wind beneath my wings.
10) Vanderbilt. With Kentucky, Tennessee and Wake remaining on the schedule, Vandy is a safe bet to finish no worse than 6-6 and in a third straight bowl. That would put most SEC coaches on the hot seat, but might get Franklin a building on campus. Assuming his interview at Goldman Sachs goes well.
11) Tennessee. May have the best recruiting class in the SEC outside Tuscaloosa this year, which is good, because it's obvious that Josh Dobbs, Justin Worley, or the trained bonobo who beats out both of them in 2014 is gonna need some help.
12) Mississippi State. With Texas A&M, Alabama, and Ole Miss still on the schedule, the odds of Dan Mullen's squad finishing above .500 are about as good as Elvis walking into a Hardee's in Hattiesburg tomorrow and ordering the chicken fingers. Actually, Mullen's odds are probably slightly worse.
13) Arkansas. I'm running out of ways to tell Arkansas fans that it's going to get better, just not this year. So instead, I'll offer a gentle pat on the back and this stack of Waffle House coupons for half off a patty melt. Because it will get better, Razorback fans.
14) Kentucky. Really what is there to say at this point, other than that Georgia will trail them going into the fourth quarter because, apparently, that's just how we do things?
Feel free to harangue, malign, and generally poo-poo regarding the above ballot in the comments below. Until later . . .