Let’s Play Contender vs. Spoiler! SEC Power Rankings, Week 8
So I was wrong about the other Bulldogs in the SEC, as it pertained to last Saturday’s showdown in Starkville. They took care of business against Auburn and one would be remiss not to consider them the most balanced team in the SEC. For the first time in the Gus Malzahn era, I saw a flustered Nick Marshall at the helm of the Auburn offense. This is acceptance of my wrongness. (Whoa, wrongness is a word.)
4) Mississippi State: Third in the country, fourth in the SEC. It reminds me of when a young Kobe Bryant was an All-Star starter yet still the Lakers’ sixth man. Except Mississippi State ain’t Kobe, I don’t think. If you’re still reading, yes I’m expecting a letdown in Starkvegas with Gameday and Auburn coming to town on Saturday.
I’m still not convinced. Four turnovers by
black Tim Tebow Dak Prescott’s offense is concerning. The fact that they still have their three toughest games (Kentucky((!!!)), Alabama, and Ole Miss) on the road convinces me that there are still two losses in the pipeline for the nation’s #1 team.
This week, I evaluate remaining schedules and assign either a ‘contender rating’ (to get to Atlanta, where in the immortal words of Kevin Garnett, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLLLLLEEEE) or a ‘spoiler rating’.
1) Ole Miss: Four weeks straight with a new #1 team, I am showing my bias for strong individual units. And Ole Miss’ D is the best individual unit in the country to my eyes, edging out Baylor’s silly O. With Auburn and Mississippi State at home and no ranked opponents on the road still to come, they are in ridiculously good position to win out. This week, they host a Tennessee team that has lost its SEC games by a combined 4 points. Contender rating: 9.5/10. They control their own destiny and would have to lose two to allow incumbent power Alabama back into the title game (without crazy tie scenarios that I’m not ready to play out).
2) Mississippi State: I’m impressed, I just don’t see a viable contender for the Natty. They still have the three aforementioned road hurdles to jump, plus tricky Arkansas at home. Contender rating: 7.5/10. Too many hurdles, and one feels like they’re playing over their heads.
3) Alabama: They were lucky to escape Arkansas with a win, and I think that says more about Arkansas than it does the Tide, who are still a near-impossible out. They play host to both Mississippi State and Auburn, as well as reeling Texas A&M this Saturday. Contender rating: 8.5/10.
4) Auburn: They’re better than they looked on Saturday in Starkville, I think. If we’re considering Kansas State and Mississippi State their good competition to date, however, it may not bode well for them in the long run. They have trips to– get this– Ole Miss, Georgia, and Alabama still on their schedule, and one has to assume that another loss eliminates them from SEC West contention. Contender rating: 4/10.
5) Georgia: Firmly in control of the SEC East after a shockingly awesome performance against Missouri, the Dawgs are the toughest team in the league to gauge due to the 6’1 226-pound elephant in the room. F*****g NCAA. That makes otherwise less-daunting trips to Arkansas, Jacksonville, and Kentucky a little bit trickier. The defense that showed up in Columbia, MO and the weak SEC East though… Contender rating: 9/10.
6) Texas A&M: With two losses to the Mississippi schools in the past two weeks and a sad home schedule, the Aggies have been reduced to spoiler status. They still host Missouri in a game that could help solidify Georgia’s status as THE team in the East, but road trips to Alabama and Auburn still loom. Three chances to play spoiler but a likely 4-4 finish in conference play? Spoiler rating: 7.5/10.
7) Kentucky: Hey, why not? They’re the second-most viable SEC East contender, play host to Georgia and Mississippi State, and (this is so weird to say) road games against LSU, Mizzou, and Tennessee are all winnable. That Florida loss has to be KILLING them. Contender rating: 4.5/10.
8) LSU: Two losses to the nation’s #1 team and the nation’s former #2 team aren’t really all that bad, so is LSU as bad as we think they are? I don’t think so. They still have CFI Les Miles at the helm, and I boldly predicted that they’d round into a top-1o-worthy football team by November. Home dates with Kentucky, Ole Miss AND Alabama, with no SEC Championship to play for? Spoiler rating: 13/10.
9) Arkansas: Man, if you’re an Arkansas fan, how thrilled are you with season tickets this year? Home (or ‘home’) dates with Alabama, Georgia, and Ole Miss is pretty legit. I don’t know if there’s a team in the SEC East I would put money on to beat the Razorbacks. Georgia included. I’ll continue to insist that they WILL break the Bieliema SEC 0-fer at least once this season. Georgia, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss are still on the schedule, as is psuedo-contender Missouri. They can’t help but ruin someone’s season. Spoiler rating: 10/10.
10) Missouri: Getting the ‘still technically a contender’ boost here, this isn’t a great football team. With Florida, Vandy, Kentucky, Tennessee, aTm, and Arkansas left on the schedule, they don’t really have much spoiler potential (only Kentucky, which is more of an elimination game for a trip to Atlanta). Contender rating: 1.5/10.
11) South Carolina: Maybe old biases die hard, but I can’t convince myself that this is a BAD football team. They still travel to Auburn, and will likely ruin Clemson’s shot at a big-six bowl over Thanksgiving yet again, so an 8-4 down year isn’t the worst thing ever. Spoiler rating (strictly based on their trip to Auburn…and I guess since they beat Georgia which has the Dawgs skating on extremely thin ice): 6/10.
12) Florida: Thank God I wasn’t subjected to that atrocious game of football against LSU. They have a pivotal home date with Missouri this week, which if they win, keeps them in ‘contender’ status at least until the Cocktail Party. After Georgia, they get a date at Vanderbilt and a home tilt with South Carolina. Yes, they’re technically still a contender, but two SEC losses has them a slight notch below Mizzou for now. Contender rating: 1.3/10.
13) Tennessee: Another team that we’re waiting on to break through. Perhaps Ole Miss has a two-big-win hangover in Oxford this week? If not, maybe a home date with Alabama? Kentucky and Mizzou are also home dates remaining on Big Checkerboard’s schedule, so they WILL knock off someone who is still a contender. Spoiler rating: 7.5/10.
14) Vanderbilt: I’m more concerned about if they can knock off Old Dominion in two weeks than I am about them playing spoiler against Mizzou, Florida, or Mississippi State. This part of the column, for the sixth week running, is a waste of bandwidth. Spoiler rating: 0/10.
Posted on October 15, 2014, in Alabama, Arkansas, Arkansas, Auburn, Death to the NCAA, Florida Gators, Georgia Bulldogs, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, SEC, South Carolina Gamecocks, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.