Seth Pollock, 23 Sports

*NOTE: This power ranking isn’t necessarily just about ranking the best teams in the SEC 1-14. It’s about that, who has and who hasn’t been impressive, and who’s putting it together.

  1. Auburn 10-2, (7-1)

Auburn didn’t just beat Alabama. They didn’t just outplay them. The Tigers dominated the Tide Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium. This team is peaking at exactly the right time. It’s amazing to me they’re only two point favorites in the SEC title game. At this point, they might be favorites against anyone in the country, including in a rematch against Clemson.

  1. Alabama 11-1, (7-1)

This was Alabama’s one must-win and they lost. Over the next week there’s gonna be a whole lotta hubbub about whether this team is gonna get into the playoff. Their resume doesn’t have a lotta bad: only this one loss, on the road, to one of the best teams in the country. But it also doesn’t have a lotta great either. The SEC West isn’t what it used to be, and Alabama spent a lot of the season beating up on bad teams. I still think it would be entertaining to have them in. Because they’re still Alabama, and they’re still the villain, and what fun is a playoff without a villain? But at this point they just might not have the resume for it.

  1. Georgia 11-1, (7-1)

As for the other former #1 team in the nation that lost to Auburn, the Dawgs have responded quite well. A blowout win over Kentucky followed by another blowout win, this time over archrival Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech isn’t a bad team. They almost beat Miami. They played fairly competitively at Clemson. Georgia responded to a loss just the way you’d hope they would. Now the question is if they have what it takes to beat a team they didn’t come close to beating just a couple of weeks ago.

  1. LSU 9-3, (6-2)

LSU has done as well of a job of rebounding from a weak start as anyone in the conference, outside of maybe Missouri. Since losing to Troy the Tigers are 6-1, with all six wins in SEC play. That includes a win over currently surging Auburn and three straight blowouts. It’s gonna take more than one ten win season for me to change my view that Ed Orgeron will not win to the level Les Miles did in Baton Rouge, but I certainly admit what Orgeron and the Tigers have done is impressive.

  1. Mississippi State 8-4, (4-4)

Losing Nick Fitzgerald to a gruesome injury, losing to archrival Ole Miss, and losing maybe the most successful coach in school history to another school in your conference. It’s been a tough week for Mississippi State. After Thursday’s loss, Mullen reiterated how happy he was to be in Starkville and said he “planned” to be back next year. Well, obviously that’s not happening. The good news for Bulldog fans is that this program is in a much better place for what Dan Mullen has accomplished.

  1. South Carolina 8-4, (5-3)

I watched the first part of this game, and it was funny. The announcers spent most of the pre-game and th first ten or so minutes of the game drilling in how motivated South Carolina was by last year’s blowout loss to Clemson, and the commitment they had to never let that happen again. Williams-Brice Stadium looked and sounded as alive as ever. And then then the game started, and Clemson dominated. It wasn’t quite as bad as last year, but it was pretty bad. Will Muschamp has done a good job getting this team to eight wins, but they have a ways to go to be at the same level as their in-state rival.

  1. Missouri 7-5, (4-4)

This was clearly the least impressive win of Mizzou’s six game winning streak. But still, two months ago, did anyone even think MIssouri would have a chance at Arkansas? This was a really dumb game that had some really dumb moments, but is still has to be pretty satisfying for Mizzou. Drew Lock broke Chase Daniel’s single season touchdown record with 40, and one TD later broke Andre Woodson’s SEC record. With a strong bowl appearance and the return of Lock for his senior season, this team might be preseason top 25 next year.

  1. Texas A&M 7-5, (4-4)

I suppose it’s fitting that Kevin Sumlin’s SEC career ended with a loss to LSU. In six years with the Aggies, Sumlin was 0-6 against the Tigers, with the last three coming the final week of the season. Sumlin will get another Power Five job if he wants one (and reports say he might be in line for the Arizona State job) but he also left behind a young team that can grow into something successful. The Aggies should be thankful for what Sumlin brought to the program, and it looks like they are.

  1. Ole Miss 6-6, (3-5)

That upset was quite the way to end the season. And apparently it was enough to get Matt Luke his dream job. I don’t know if Luke will be a successful coach long term for the Rebels, but it certainly seems like a move made by an athletic department that couldn’t get a more established, proven coach to commit, perhaps because of rumors of how bad the sanctions will be. The SEC West is quite the place to start a head coaching career, so Luke will need time to figure it out if the sanctions are at all as bad as some think they may be.

  1. Kentucky 7-5, (4-4)

This is now three games Kentucky has played against teams that are at least borderline top 25. All three have been blowout losses. Getting to seven wins is better than not getting to seven wins, but this team still isn’t very good.

  1. Florida 4-7 (3-5)

A disappointing season ends in a disappointing way: a 38-22 loss to archrival Florida State. A win wouldn’t have salvaged the Gators season to the tune of making a bowl, but it would’ve joined the Noles in UF’s no-bowl misery. The game was closer than the score, though. A couple of defensive touchdowns gave the Noles the sixteen point margin while Florida actually outgained FSU. With no bowl game to prepare for, the Gators can start imagining what having Dan Mullen’s offense back will bring to the table.

  1. Vanderbilt 5-7 (1-7)

This was a rough year for Vandy. After their start, including a win over a then ranked Kansas State team in Manhattan, this team more than sputtered, losing their first seven conference games. Beating Tennessee in Knoxville doesn’t erase that, but it sure must feel good. Ralph Webb said after the game “It was an honor to give Tennessee their first 8-loss season.” Welp, at least Vanderbilt has something to celebrate.

  1. Arkansas  4-8 (1-7)

Arkansas fired Bret Bielema before he even got off the field after the Hogs loss to Missouri on Friday. That’s rough. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of Bielema’s. As an Ohio State fan, that’s been the case since he was in Wisconsin. He was always a cocky hypocrite. For instance, when Urban Meyer took the Ohio State job, Bielema said he didn’t want the Big Ten to become anything like the SEC, “in any way, shape or form.” A few months later, he ends up as an SEC head coach and lavishes praise on the SEC about what a wonderful conference he thinks it is. This, after telling his team at Wisconsin not to worry about any rumors of him taking other jobs. A little while back I tweeted some things at him he didn’t particularly care for and he blocked me, which I took as a badge of honor.

But in his postgame press conference, Bielema suddenly seemed more likeable. He said he’ll always be an Arkansas fan and would be more than willing to help whoever replaces him as Razorback coach. He teared up when talking about how his daughter, his first kid, will always have been born in Fayetteville. I think the losses have given Bielema a little more perspective than he had previously. At a Power Five spot with lower expectations I think he could be very successful.

(On that note: It’s insane David Beaty is still head coach at Kansas. They’ve won one FBS game in three years, and this year they didn’t get within single digits of beating an FBS opponent. Bielema would be a great fit there. He’d do well with the lower expectations, he’d get the fans pumped, and he’d have them bowling within three years.)

  1. Tennessee 4-8 (0-8)

After Tennessee lost to Vanderbilt, clinching the first eight loss season in program history, Vol fans probably felt that was the worst being a Vol fan could feel. They were… not correct. Less than 24 hours after their season concluded, reports started coming in that the Vols were finalizing a deal with Greg Schiano to be their next head coach. He was not the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Tennessee fans were hoping for. The reaction was swift. Allegations from former Penn State assistant Mike McQueary were brought back up. In  deposition, McQueary said former Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley had told McQueary that Schiano had told him he’d seen Jerry Sandusky doing something to a young boy in a locker room. I don’t know if that’s true or not. Mike McQueary had reason to lie, to make his own relative inaction following seeing Sandusky and boy together seem more commonplace. For what it’s worth, Bradley and Schiano have both denied the allegations. They might be true. But then again, they might not be. And if they’re not, it’s sad to see to see someone lose the chance at a job for false allegations. Even if would’ve been a bad hire in the first place.