SEC Power Rankings: Week 2


Rueben Randle and LSU streaked past Northwestern State on Saturday. (AP Photo)

Aside from two great games to open conference play, Saturday’s action was mostly ho-hum blowout wins for SEC wins over cupcake opponents. Alabama, Tennessee and Vanderbilt played teams with pulses, and each team looked very good in victory. Kentucky muddled its way through another too-close-for-comfort win over a mid-major also-ran. All in all, Week 2 action didn’t lead to much movement in the SEC Power Rankings.

1. LSU 2-0 (Last week: 1) — The Bengal Tigers were feeling generous, so they gave in-state foe Northwestern State a paycheck and a beating. LSU outgained the Demons 400-95 and cruised to a 49-3 victory. If Les Miles had been looking to blow off some steam, LSU could have called whatever number it wanted and put it on the scoreboard. The only somewhat interesting note: quarterbacks Jarrett Lee and Zach Mettenberger split time and combined to 17-of-21 passes for 225 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Miles has to be happy seeing some accuracy in his passing game.

2. ALABAMA, 2-0 (2) — You had to feel like Nick Saban was showing some respect and taking it easy one Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions. Alabama did what it needed to establish an early lead, and then Saban pretty much hit the brakes. The defense was phenomenal again, and Trent Richardson broke the century mark and found the end zone twice. A.J. McCarron distributed the ball well and managed the game fine, but it still remains to be seen what the Crimson Tide passing attack can do when it has to move the ball.

3. ARKANSAS, 2-0 (3) — The Hogs put the offense into overdrive and compiled 632 yards and 52 points against New Mexico, one of the worst teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Arkansas did a nice job on defense, too, holding the Lobos to three points despite plenty of playing time for the backups. But not all is sunny in Fayetteville; quarterback Tyler Wilson sat out the second half with concussion-like symptoms. In addition to Wilson’s injury, defensive end Jake Bequette and receiver Jarius Wright left the game due to a pulled hamstring and sprained knee, respectively. Razorback fans have to be worried if what could be a special year is going to be a wash thanks to the injury bug.

4. SOUTH CAROLINA, 2-0/1-0 (6) — The Gamecocks jump into the top 4 thanks to a thrilling road win over dead man walking Mark Richt and the Georgia Bulldogs. The Cocks started slow, responded, fell asleep in the second half and closed strong to pull out the win. Stephen Garcia was terrible (11-for-25, 142 yards, one TD, two INTs), but Marcus Lattimore pounded the Dawg D for 174 yards and a score. South Carolina’s defense didn’t look very good, allowing 436 yards and 42 points, but Jadeveon Clowney forced a late fumble that was returned for a score to pretty much put the game away. If the offense can stay hot and the defense can create opportunities, this team will really start to resemble the 2010 national champion Auburn Tigers.

5. AUBURN, 2-0/1-0 (8) — Speaking of Auburn, despite another shaky defensive performance for the Tigers, the defending champs able to stop Mississippi State QB Chris Relf short of the goal line on the game’s final play and upset the 16th-ranked Bulldogs. There were a few curious play calls, but the offense looked great. Once again, Auburn put enough pieces together to result in being ahead when the final whistle sounded and win its 17th straight. Now, Gene Chizik must take his young team on the road. If Auburn can leave Clemson with a win, it should head into October with a perfect record and a 19-game winning streak, one shy of tying the school record.

6. FLORIDA, 2-0 (5) — Florida falls in the rankings this week thanks to playing another tune-up game while Auburn and South Carolina opened their SEC seasons with wins. The Gators played excellent defense, holding UAB to 212 yards and one third-down conversion in earning their first shutout since 2006. Florida dominated on the ground, rushing for 300 yards and four touchdowns. John Brantley wasn’t asked to do much, so he didn’t. Brantley finished a pedestrian 12-of-19 for 195 yards, no scores, no interceptions. Chris Rainey was the star with 115 rushing yards and a TD. We’ll find out what the Gators are really made of when they open SEC play by hosting Tennessee in Week 3.

7. TENNESSEE, 2-0 (7) — All of a sudden, the Volunteers appear to have one of the conference’s most dangerous offenses. Tyler Bray completed 34-of-41 passes for an eye-popping 405 yards and four touchdowns. Bray added a rushing TD, and Tauren Poole rushed for 95 yards on 21 carries. Tennessee totaled 531 yards, 10 third-down conversions on 13 attempts and 34 first downs. The defense gave up 14 points in the first quarter but settled down to allow just nine points for the remainder of the game. Head coach Derek Dooley surely would like to see his D force some turnovers, but with the offense playing as well as it is, Tennessee looks like a competitor in the SEC East.

8. MISSISSIPPI STATE 1-1/0-1 (4) — Mississippi State takes the biggest plunge of the week after the Bulldogs blew a chance to announce that they are ready to contend with the best of the SEC West. The rushing offense gained more than 300 yards, but it was against an inexperienced and porous Auburn defense, and the passing game couldn’t gain consistency. On defense, State allowed 235 rushing yards and 42 points. And, in what has become a trademark of the Dan Mullen-coached team, the Bulldogs committed eight penalties for 75 yards. A few of those were personal fouls that helped Auburn on scoring drives. It was a frustrating day for Mullen as he fell to 0-9 against SEC West teams other than Ole Miss in his tenure as Mississippi State’s head coach.

9. GEORGIA, 0-2/0-1 (9) — Had Georgia been able to pull off the upset over South Carolina, it could have been a springboard to a surprising season in Athens. For a while, it appeared as if the Dawgs would come out on top. Instead, Georgia blew a late lead and fell to 0-2 for the first time since 1996. Aaron Murray threw for 248 yards and four touchdowns, and Isaiah Crowell ran for 118 yards and a TD. Georgia compiled 436 yards, but three key turnovers likely kept the Bulldogs from picking up their biggest conference win since defeating LSU in Baton Rouge on Oct. 25, 2008. Now, every game will be looked at as possibly being Mark Richt’s last as top Dawg.

10. VANDERBILT, 2-0 (10) — Vandy won again on Saturday, which means the Commodores have now won consecutive games for the first time since opening the 2008 season 5-0. In what has become a familiar scene in Nashville, the Dores didn’t do much on offense, but the defense came up big. After blowing a 14-3 lead, Casey Hayward returned and interception 49 yards to tie the game at 21 with seven minutes remaining. Carey Spear kicked a 32-yard field goal with three minutes left to provide the winning score. Vandy compiled just 259 yards, but it held the Huskies to 193. Whenever talented running back Warren Norman returns, the offense should get a major boost. Next up, Vandy looks to knock off Ole Miss for the second straight year.

11. OLE MISS, 1-1 (12) — Ole Miss moves out of the SEC basement thanks to a blowout win over Football Championship Subdivision Southern Illinois. The offense put up 42 points, but, really, that’s what it should have done against an FCS team. Jeff Scott filled in nicely for the injured Brandon Bolden with 107 rushing yards and three touchdowns. The defense gave up 24 points, which must concern Rebel fans. Overall, Ole Miss’ first win of the year doesn’t deserve much of a mention. At least it wasn’t a loss to an FCS team like last year’s Jacksonville State game.

12. KENTUCKY, 2-0 (11) — Another week, another lackluster win for the Wildcats. Central Michigan actually led Kentucky until 4:16 remaining in the third quarter. Running back Josh Clemons rushed for 124 yards and a score, which looks nice until you realize that 87 of those yards came on that lone touchdown run. Morgan Newton was very unspectacular, completing nine passes for 114 yards and the game’s final TD. If Central Michigan could have put up touchdowns instead of field goals on first-half red zone possessions and avoided turning the ball over twice, the Chippewas would have probably won. Kentucky is 2-0, but it has to be the worst 2-0 team in the country. With floundering Louisville next on the schedule, the Cats have a great chance at becoming the worst 3-0 team in the country.