For the second week in a row the Tide stay atop the SEC Power Rankings. While the scoreboard against Kentucky is not extremely impressive Alabama went up 31-6 and put up 31 points in the second and third quarters alone. Perhaps the most important stat from this game is the consistency from Greg McElroy and Mark Ingram. Saban will be dangerous this year with this great combo as McElroy has passed for nine touchdowns and only one interception, while Ingram broke out with a 140-yard performance and two scores. If Alabama can take care of business next week against Mississippi, they will have a great chance at playing in Atlanta for an SEC title.
The Gators catch a break during their bye week as Georgia loses to LSU. Not that they needed it, but now they have even more breathing room and are all but locked in to represent the East in the SEC Championship game. The season's biggest game for the Gators will come next week in a trip to Death Valley to take on a tough LSU team. This has always been a hard venue to get a win at, especially at night, but Florida should be able to take care of business. LSU has yet to face a stout defense and the Gators will be eager to make a statement after the week off.
LSU survived a scare in Athens with a 20-13 win. Both teams played tough defense through three quarters and then lit up the scoreboard in the fourth. Charles Scott carried the team that struggled to punch the ball in early. He rushed for 95 yards and two late touchdowns in clutch situations. Scott will have to be very productive when they matchup against Florida next week. While LSU is an impressive 5-0, its record and ranking don't tell the whole story. They have struggled two weeks in a row on the road and have yet to release the dominant offense they were expected to have. Were it not for a goal line stand against Mississippi State and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Georgia late, the Tigers could easily be 3-2 at this point. Regardless, if they can upset Florida next week all is forgiven and LSU will be recognized as a legitimate title contender.
The other Tigers in the west are also sitting at 5-0 but this team was not supposed to be this good. Auburn has been the surprise team of the SEC with a high powered offense and a great schedule to help them get off to a good start. After four straight home games the Tigers survived their first SEC road test beating Tennessee 26-22. While the score was close, Auburn was ahead 23-6 at one point in the fourth quarter before Tennessee picked up three late scores. The Tigers proved they can move the ball on even the toughest of SEC defenses with 459 total yards of offense. Chris Todd played mistake-free football 218 yards passing and running back Ben Tate rushed for 128 yards and a score. With Arkansas and Kentucky next on the schedule, Auburn could be 7-0 heading into their October 24th matchup at LSU.
The loss to LSU was emotionally devastating, but the Bulldogs still control their own destiny in the SEC East. (See No Worse For The Ware: Georgia's Road Still Leads Through Florida) Georgia's 3-2 record makes its performance look a lot worse than it is. Defense and penalties plagued them early but they seem to have gotten some control. The penalties have decreased in the last two games and the defense is starting to gain momentum. A rivalry game against Tennessee this week should be a great defensive battle especially as Georgia is finally starting to show the ability to rush the passer. Georgia is still on the radar in the SEC and they are a dangerous team when they get hot offensively.
The Rebels are still developing as a team but they showed signs of life offensively this week in a 23-7 victory against Vanderbilt. Jevan Snead picked a bad time to throw three interceptions as Alabama looms next week. Mississippi has yet to define a lead rusher and while they are getting decent yards on the ground they need someone to step up into the main role. Next week does not look promising as they host Alabama, but the Rebels have a lot of talent and could win if they put all the pieces together. Look for Snead to bounce back and keep it close against the Tide on Saturday.
7. South Carolina
The Gamecocks could benefit from their schedule more than anyone else in the conference. While they have one SEC loss already they only have two games left against ranked opponents at this time. Granted, those games are against Alabama and Florida, but South Carolina could have a nice looking record by the end of the year. Their defense is only allowing 16.8 points per game and Stephen Garcia is on track to pass for over 2,300 yards this year. The most important statistic for Garcia is his two interceptions to six touchdowns. This comes after throwing eight picks last year and only six passes reaching the end zone. Look out for South Carolina as Steve Spurrier may have found his long-awaited star quarterback to ignite the explosive offense.
The Volunteers have struggled to get their first big win under Lane Kiffin but their defense is one of the best in the SEC. It is obvious that there is a lot of talent in Knoxville but the youth is not ready for big-time SEC games. The Vols struggled to get off to a quick start and only late points against Auburn made the game close. This week will tell a lot about Georgia and Tennessee as both teams have ridden the roller coaster of highs and lows. Both coaches desperately need the win and the Tennessee offense will have to play at their best to get a "W".
The Razorbacks are polar opposites on offense and defense. Arkansas has been one of the most prolific teams on offense with 35.8 points per game. On the flip side they are giving up an SEC worst 29 points per game. It's hard to compete in this conference without the ability to stop opponents. While the Hogs have been impressive early, they cannot have high expectations with Auburn, Florida, and Mississippi lined up all in succession. Five ranked teams still remain on the schedule with three of those games on the road. Look for Arkansas to fall fast through the end of the year mainly due to the inability to get a stop on defense.
10. Mississippi State
The Bulldogs gave away a game this weekend to a Yellow Jackets team that struggled on defense. While Mississippi State put up 487 total yards, five turnovers killed their attack and a weak defense couldn't stop Georgia Tech through the air or on the ground. With a two week break from SEC action, the Bulldogs may be able to regroup and have a stronger second half of the season, but right now things are looking bleak. The Bulldogs have been extremely inconsistent and have to host Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi later in the year.
The Vanderbilt football team has yet to get a signature win in 2009. The Commodores are only putting up 20 points per game and the passing attack is the worst in the SEC. The defense is the only promising unit on the team with only 15.6 points allowed per game. With several tough games remaining on the schedule, look for Vanderbilt to continue to struggle and start looking to next year soon.
The 38-20 loss to Alabama was a lot worse than the scoreboard shows. Four turnovers stalled the offense and Kentucky didn't score a touchdown until midway through the third quarter. The offense is second worse in the SEC and the defense is third worst. While the Wildcats have just finished the hardest stretch of games any team will face in the conference, they still have two ranked opponents left in the next two weeks. Kentucky has a rough patch ahead but could have a good second half of the year with several easy games down the road.
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