SEC Power Poll

Our weekly look at how we rank the teams from the best league in the country.

TigerSportsDigest.com SEC Power Poll

(2010 records in parentheses)

1. LSU (11-2, 6-2 SEC)

The Tigers’ impressive collection of defensive talent will make up for the recent offensive losses and stars will unexpectedly emerge on that side of the ball to make LSU a tough team to tangle with. Predicted finish – 11-1, 7-1

2. Alabama (10-3, 5-3)

The Crimson Tide has star power galore, especially on defense and in the backfield, but an early-season grind coupled with an untested quarterback will make for a rough start. Predicted finish – 9-3, 6-2

3. Arkansas (10-3, 6-2)

The Razorbacks offense is in good shape with new quarterback Tyler Wilson, but the defense isn’t much different than the last few seasons and that will lead to some losses in the SEC. Predicted finish – 8-4, 5-3

4. South Carolina (9-5, 5-3)

The Gamecocks’ 1-2 punch of running back Marcus Lattimore and receiver Alshon Jeffery will be a difficult tandem for any defense – and enough to offset erratic QB Stephen Garcia. Predicted finish – 10-2, 6-2

5. Mississippi State (9-4, 4-4)

The Bulldogs begin the season on the cusp of elite status in the SEC but just don’t have enough talent yet to break through, especially in the tough-as-nails West. Predicted finish – 8-4, 4-4

6. Georgia (6-7, 3-5)

Georgia coach Mark Richt will quiet the fans calling for his head for at least another year, but the Bulldogs still have some maturing to do before they are a major contender again in the East. Predicted finish – 9-3, 5-3

7. Florida (8-5, 4-4)

The Gators still have plenty of talent to work with, but just a hunch that some of that potential gets lost in the transitory shuffle with a new coaching staff and a rugged schedule. Predicted finish – 8-4, 4-4

8. Auburn (14-0, 8-0)

Too much talent lost on both sides of the ball will leave Auburn vulnerable in close games and the offense will take a big step backward without Cam Newton. Predicted finish – 5-7, 2-6

9. Tennessee (6-7, 3-5)

The Volunteers will make some progress in year two under Derek Dooley, but they still lack the kind of pizzazz on both sides of the ball to challenge especially with road trips to Florida, Alabama and Arkansas. Predicted finish – 7-5, 3-5

10. Kentucky (6-7, 2-6)

Isn’t this about where the Wildcats always win up? Not much change in the talent level and what remains a very steep climb in the East relegates Kentucky to afterthought status. Predicted finish – 6-6, 2-6

11. Ole Miss (4-8, 1-7)

Are there any more SEC schools for Houston Nutt to coach at, or at least flirt with? Hope so for his sake because the Rebels are spiraling downward and don’t have a ton of reason to expect a quick turnaround. Predicted finish – 4-8, 2-6

12. Vanderbilt (2-10, 1-7)

New coach James Franklin has certainly breathed some new optimism into the Commodores’ fan base. That may pay off in the long run, but the immediate doesn’t shape up much different than it’s been for most of Vandy’s history. Predicted finish – 2-10, 0-8

 

Game of the week

No. 4 LSU vs. No. 3 Oregon: In just the third matchup of top-five teams at a neutral site to begin the season in college football history, there’s plenty attached to this heavyweight battle. Both teams enter with national championship aspirations, but the contrast in how the Tigers and Ducks hope to get there is striking. Oregon’s offense, led by quarterback Darron Thomas and Heisman Trophy candidate running back LaMichael James will likely be the best LSU faces all season. Likewise, it’s hard to imagine the Ducks will see a defense as fast and potentially as clamp-down dominant as the Tigers as they go through the season. That moves the game to a key matchup of LSU’s offense vs. Oregon’s defense, which is a tossup with the Tigers losing a quarterback, receiver and left guard all in the last week. With a bowl game feel to start the season in one of the most magnificent stadiums in the country, there figures to be no shortage of drama and entertainment.

 

This week’s schedule

Thursday

#20 Mississippi State at Memphis, 7 p.m. (SportSouth)

Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky, 8:15 p.m. at LP Field in Nashville (ESPNU)

Saturday

#4 LSU vs. #3 Oregon, 7 p.m. at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas (ABC, ESPN3.com)

Utah State at Auburn, 11 a.m. (ESPN2)

Kent State at Alabama, 11:21 a.m. (SEC Network, ESPN3.com)

BYU at Ole Miss, 3:45 p.m. (ESPN)

Montana at Tennessee, 5 p.m. (ESPN3.com)

South Carolina vs. East Carolina, at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, 6 p.m. (FSN)

Missouri State at Arkansas, 6 p.m. (ESPN3.com)

Florida Atlantic at Florida, 6 p.m. (ESPNU)

Elon at Vanderbilt, 6:30 p.m. (CSS)

Georgia vs. Boise State, 7 p.m. at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta (ESPN)


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