Southern Football rankings Week 2

Another weekend of football in the South has made me re-arrange my thinking on the best and worst teams in the region. Certain teams, like Georgia and NC State, stepped up this weekend and won what many considered to be difficult games; while others, like Virginia and LSU lost games many considered cakewalks.

23. Vanderbilt – coming back from a deficit to beat Connecticut 28-24 at home is not going to move the Commodores out of the cellar this week.  Last week: #23

22. Mississippi State – a week off after the win over Memphis means that State can prepare for the stretch run of their season. Kentucky comes calling this week in Starkville. Last week: #22

21. DukeClemson comes in reeling this week. Is it possible that the Blue Devils can win? The 42-14 drubbing by Maryland is not helping Duke's case this week. Last week: #21

20. North Carolina – Duke may move up next week even without a win because North Carolina is doing nothing this season to show me that they have any sort of football tact. Another loss, this time a 31-0 shutout at the hands of Wake Forest, makes the season get longer and longer for the Heels. Last week: #20

19. Clemson – THUD. What sort of preparation was done on the part of Tommy Bowden's staff to get ready for NC State? What ever it was it was a total waste of time. NC State took the Tigers and pounded them the same way that North Carolina did in 2001, except this time the whole country was watching. This season is a total lost for Clemson. They are no longer a legitimate contender for the ACC title, and really haven't been since Florida State entered the league in 1992. If Georgia Tech and Virginia can at least "share" the ACC title with FSU and Maryland can win it out right, then why can't Clemson? Clemson has a pathetic record against Top 25 opponents since Bowden arrived and considering the conference that the Tigers play in, just one or two Top 25 wins a season could win the ACC each year. Clemson has gone from dominating the ACC, to dominating the state of South Carolina to getting embarrassed on national television twice in one month. What's the last Bowl game that did not involve blue turf and snow that Clemson has won? Tiger fans are livid about the southward movement of their program, but will anything be done to correct it? Will Tommy Bowden be fired? Last week: #17

18. Ole Miss –the Rebels are just another "wannabe" in the West, plain and simple. Ole Miss had its biggest win in what seems like forever when they beat Florida earlier this month. But after two straight woodshed beatings by Alabama and Arkansas it is now clear that Ole Miss' defense can't stop anybody and Eli Manning can only make plays after the outcome of the game is no longer in doubt. The truth hurts. Last week: #10

17. Wake Forest – Destroying North Carolina was a huge step in the right direction for Wake. The Demon Deacons could have let this season slide away after a disappointing loss at Clemson, but it appears that they are going to fight through the remainder of their schedule. Last week: #18

16. Georgia Tech – Tech turned in a gusty performance in their win against Virginia. The win was Tech's best performance of the season. Tech had their backs against the wall with people were questioning their abilities; they played outstanding anyway Georgia Tech is still very much out manned considering the injuries that they have had, but they showed that they have not yet given up on the season, many thought that they had. Last week: #19

15. Kentucky – for one half, it looked like Kentucky was prepared to arrive on the national and SEC scene. There was even talk before the game of taking down goalposts. But in the 2nd half Georgia powered past the Cats and made it look easy. While the game was a downer, Kentucky can still end the season on a positive note with a win over LSU or Tennessee. Last week: #14

14. Virginia – getting bullied around by Georgia Tech, a team that has done nothing of significance this season, shows that progress is still needed at Virginia. The Cavs need to turn it around quickly or else their attempt at the Gator Bowl will go right down the toilet and be given to Florida State or NC State. Last week: #8

13. Tennessee –"Vols will be lucky to get to the Peach Bowl." That's what I said last week, now after the pitiful performance against Alabama, it seems the Peach Bowl would be a good thing; this season has come totally undone in Knoxville. Players are running their mouths with little or no accountability and the team is not focused at all. With that in mind, the season gets no easier for Tennessee. Kentucky and Miami are going to be serious tests for the Vols, and this week Tennessee faces another tough test in South Carolina. If South Carolina can get past the mystique of what used to be Tennessee, they will likely win the ball game. But neither team can hold on to the ball well enough for either to be confident going into the game. Last week: #11

12. South Carolina – the brutal end of the season schedule starts this week with a watered-down Tennessee. If South Carolina can't find a way to beat a mediocre Tennessee team at home, with or without Ryan Brewer, some questions should be asked of Lou Holtz's staff (although that will never happen in Columbia). Holtz has turned the Gamecock program around, but it is high time for Carolina to turn around its horrid record of 1-19 against Florida and Tennessee. South Carolina has wins over Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky this season; those teams are a combined 1-10 in the SEC. The Vols have beaten only one team in the conference, Arkansas. This is a must win for the Cocks. Last week: #13

11. Arkansas – the Hogs did what they had to do last week to keep their slim hopes for a trip to Atlanta alive. But in order not to be eliminated, Arkansas will have to win the remainder of their games, including what is looking more and more like a huge game at the end of the season against LSU. Arkansas might be near the bottom of the SEC West, but they probably have the easiest remaining schedule of those teams eligible to win the division. Houston Nutt's bunch gets a breather this week against Troy State before a pivotal game against South Carolina. Last week: #15

10.Auburn – Suddenly alive and kicking, Auburn may have waited too late to make their run. The Tigers can still win the SEC West, but LSU, the team that they beat like a drum last week, is still in control of its own destiny. Both LSU and Auburn still have to play the best team in the West, Alabama. If Auburn can split against Bama and Georgia, they can still get to Atlanta. However, LSU still has to lose at least two more games for that to happen. Ole Miss should be no match for the Tigers this week. Last week: #16

9. Maryland – with their only conference loss coming to Florida State, Maryland is still in the ACC race.  By beating NC State next weekend, Maryland would get that much closer to a possible split of the ACC crown. The Turtles demolished pitiful Duke last weekend and are gearing up for a wounded North Carolina squad. Maryland might sneak into the Gator Bowl with win five straight wins. Also, their loss to Notre Dame does not look that bad at all right now. Last week: #12

8. Florida – simply put, this season could get ugly in Gainesville if Florida can't knock off knock off Georgia this weekend. A loss to hated Georgia will mean that Florida is at its lowest of lows in the last decade and a half and that Georgia is at its highest of highs in that same time. This is a statement game for Florida. Beat Georgia and Florida can still win the East. Lose to the Dawgs, and Florida might not make it over .500 for the season. South Carolina and Florida State still loom on the Gator's schedule.  Last week: #9

7. LSU – LSU still controls its own destiny, but the beating they took at the hands of Auburn severely decreases my faith in the Tigers. LSU had better regroup during the week off; Kentucky is a decent team. Also a huge game against Alabama comes up after the Cats. Last week: #4

6. Florida State – Notre Dame is not that bad these days. Still, for Florida State winning has been as much a part of Saturdays in the fall as anything else. Now, the Noles are staring down a worst-case scenario of 8-5, and a trip to some .com bowl game. Florida State is still a good football team; they just aren't what they used to be. But this week against Wake Forest should be no problem; Wake has never been as good as Florida State is now. FSU's final two games of the season are looking huge right now (NC State and Florida). Last week: #6

5. North Carolina State – I really thought that State would have some trouble with Clemson. It's not so much that I underestimated State's abilities, its that I overestimated what Clemson was capable of. NC State has not been in this situation in years and now State will really be tested. They host Georgia Tech, a game that they should win, and then play at Virginia, at Maryland and then host Florida State. The fact that FSU's ranking or record it not what it normally is will crush any hopes of the Pack playing in the Fiesta Bowl. But an undefeated NC State team might get some national championship votes from AP voters. First, however, they have to get past Maryland, and I am not so sure that they will do that; time will tell.  Last week: #7

4. Virginia Tech – this week's game against Pitt is an important one for the Hokies. Tech did not play well at all in their 20-10 win over Temple last week, and as a result, slid in the polls. Sure, the matchup with Miami at the end of the season will be a huge one, but if one team does not show up undefeated, the impact of the game will be less significant. Last week: #2

3. Alabama – Alabama is the best team in the SEC West; they are this week at least. This Alabama team still has big games against Auburn and LSU remaining, but they have a very good shot at winning 11 games this season. Vandy and State should be breathers until the Tide takes on both Tiger teams. Bama's 34-14 beating of Tennessee was probably made especially as sweet considering the state of the Tennessee program. It's too bad that this team is on probation, because they would be a serious threat to win the SEC. Last week: #5

2. Georgia – in the first half of the game against Kentucky it looked like Georgia was going to have to outscore the Cats just to get out of Lexington with a win. Outscore they did; to the tune of 31 straight points to make the final 52-24. Georgia destroyed its opponent for the second straight week in a row. The Dawgs have struggled the past few years, while still winning, against Vandy and Kentucky; but not this season. Georgia outscored Vandy and Kentucky 2 to 1. However, the season all comes down to this weekend in Jacksonville. Beat Florida and Georgia will make its first trip ever to the SEC Title game. Lose, and it's the same old story in Jacksonville, just a new verse. Last week: #3

1. Miami – Sure the Canes struggled against West Virginia but they are still the defending national champions, and they are undefeated. So I, unlike the BCS, don't plan on screwing Miami over. However, if Miami plans on staying undefeated they had better improve their play. Even Diet Tennessee might be potent enough to beat the Canes if they continue to play average football. Obviously the game against Virginia Tech is huge. Last week: # 1

Disagree with my rankings: CORRECT ME! Send me your rankings here: dean@dawgpost.com

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