Last week: 1 (beat #2 Alabama 9-6 OT). This week: vs. Western Kentucky
2. Alabama (8-1, 5-1): Minus a reliable kicker, the Crimson Tide matched LSU step for step. Now it's important that Alabama not sleep-walk through a remaining schedule that still features road games in Starkville and Auburn.
Last week: 2 (lost to #1 LSU 9-6 OT). This week: at Mississippi State
3. Arkansas (8-1, 4-1): The Razorbacks are lying in wait for a chance at LSU and a shot to turn the BCS on its head. Before then, though, Arkansas has to tend to home games vs. Tennessee and Mississippi State. Hogs need to tread carefully.
Last week: 3 (beat #9 South Carolina 44-28). This week: vs. Tennessee
|Mark Richt: Can the Bulldogs finish the comeback story?|
4. Georgia (7-2, 5-1): Dead in the water in mid-September, the Bulldogs have revived their season and likely saved coach Mark Richt's job. But to complete this comeback story, Georgia has to take care of business this week against an old rival and next against Kentucky.
Last week: 4 (beat New Mexico State 63-16). This week: vs. Auburn
5. Auburn (6-3, 4-2): May not seem like much on the heels of a national championship, but Auburn still has the opportunity to be a major spoiler to its two biggest rivals, starting this week with Georgia.
Last week: 6 (IDLE). This week: at #14 Georgia
6. South Carolina (7-2, 5-2): The Gamecocks wrap up their 2011 SEC slate against a beatable Gators team. If Carolina wins, it would finish with six league wins for the first time since it joined the SEC.
Last week: 5 (lost to #7 Arkansas 44-28). This week: vs. Florida
7. Florida (5-4, 3-4): Surviving against Vanderbilt was better than the four straight losses, but not by much. Florida is struggling to establish an identity on either side of the ball and that doesn't bode well.
Last week: 7 (beat Vanderbilt 26-21). This week: at South Carolina
|Vick Ballard: Bulldogs take aim at a major upset win the the next two weeks.|
8. Mississippi State (5-4, 1-4): If the Crimson Tide are ripe for an upset, the Bulldogs would love to oblige. Same applies when they head to Arkansas a week from now. Gut feeling says State has one big win in store before the season ends.
Last week: 8 (beat Tennessee-Martin 55-17). This week: vs. #4 Alabama
9. Vanderbilt (4-5, 1-5): James Franklin has the Commodores in line to go bowling if they can handle their normal season-ending tandem of Kentucky and Tennessee. Vandy has been more competitive all season than both.
Last week: 9 (lost to Florida 26-21) This week: vs. Kentucky
10. Tennessee (4-5, 0-5): The Volunteers are at least a week away from getting Tyler Bray back, which means the league's lowest scoring offense (10.2 points per game in SEC games) is still toothless, and that's not good a good sign against the high-flying Razorbacks this week.
Last week: 10 (beat Middle Tennessee 24-0). This week: at #8 Arkansas
11. Kentucky (4-5, 1-4): The Wildcats got off the schneid by thumping Ole Miss last week and have a shot for back-to-back SEC wins for the first time since November 2009. Might be necessary for a late-season push to keep Joker Phillips on solid ground.
Last week: 12 (beat Ole Miss 30-13). This week: at Vanderbilt
12. Ole Miss (2-7, 0-6): The Rebels haven't been this bad since Bebe was in his final days on the sideline. Colonel Reb is certainly crying again now and is likely to be sad all the way to 3-9 or 2-10 if Louisiana Tech can pull the mild upset.
Last week: 11 (lost to Kentucky 30-13). This week: vs. Louisiana Tech
This week's schedule
Western Kentucky at LSU, 6 p.m. (ESPNU)
Florida at South Carolina, 11 a.m. (CBS)
Kentucky at Vanderbilt, 11:21 a.m. (SEC Network)
Auburn at Georgia, 2:30 p.m. (CBS)
Tennessee at Arkansas, 5 p.m. (ESPN2)
Louisiana Tech at Ole Miss, 6:30 p.m. (CSS)
Alabama at Mississippi State, 6:45 p.m. (ESPN)
Game of the week
Auburn at Georgia: Georgia has won six of the last 10 games with Auburn to gain a 54-52-8 edge in the longest running series in the South. … All three of AU's losses came to teams currently ranked in the Top 10 – Clemson, Arkansas and LSU. … AU quarterback Clint Moseley fired four touchdown passes two weeks ago against Ole Miss. … Auburn running back Michael Dyer needs 11 more yards to reach 1,000 for the season. Georgia has rattled off seven wins in a row, the longest regular-season win streak in March Richt's 11-year tenure. The Bulldogs have outscored foes 250-99 during the streak. The last time UGa won as many as eight straight games was 1982 when Vince Dooley guided the Bulldogs to an 11-0 regular season. That was also the last time Georgia won six SEC games in a row. … Georgia has quietly produced the third best defensive season in the league this season, ranking third in rushing defense (91.1 yards allowed per game) and third in total defense (282 yards per game). Auburn could test that with the SEC's second-best rushing offense (191.1 yards per game). Bulldogs QB Aaron Murray is leading the league with 23 passing TDs and ranks second with 2,060 yards through the air. He has also thrown more interceptions (8) than any quarterback in the league. … Vanderbilt junior QB Jordan Rodgers is averaging 241 passing yards the last three games and has tallied eight touchdowns, four rushing and four passing. … The Commodores have scored 21 points or more in three straight SEC games for the first time since 2005, but have lost all three. Kentucky has won eight of the last 10 games vs. Vandy, including the last two. The Wildcats have scored 24 points or more against the Commodores in six straight meetings. UK has converted 29 of 26 chances in the red zone with 13 touchdowns. But the Wildcats have surrendered points on 21 of 25 opponent chances.
Around the SEC
Alabama has won three in a row against Mississippi State, outscoring the Bulldogs 93-20 on the way. The Crimson Tide hasn't allowed more than 14 points in a game this season and leads the country in scoring defense with 7.1 points allowed per game. State rolled up 570 yards last week to tout Tennessee-Martin, but the Bulldogs surrendered a season-high 454. The Bulldogs are one of only four SEC teams generating an average of 400 yards or more a game. … Arkansas is off to its best start under Bobby Petrino and are 8-1 for only the third time since joining the SEC. The Razorbacks have outscored foes 164-80 in the second half. Arkansas has won six games against East Division foes foe the first time in program history. Tennessee is 13-3 against the Hogs all-time, 10-3 in SEC games. This is the sixth time Arkansas has faced the Volunteers when ranked. The Razorbacks are 1-4 in the previous five. Tennessee is the lone East team to face the three West Division heavyweights this season. The Vols lost to LSU 38-7 and Alabama 37-6. UT quarterback Justin Worley is the sixth freshman to start under center for the Vols. He passed for 292 yards last week in his second start. … Florida is 23-5-3 against South Carolina, but Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier owns two of those wins – 2005 and 2010. A 36-14 win last season was Carolina's biggest in the series. The Gamecocks have intercepted the most passes in the SEC (17) and have had the most picked off (13).
NOTE: Here's how 12 writers from around the SEC, including me, voted in a league-wide power poll.
1. LSU (12) 144, 2. Alabama 132, 3. Arkansas 120, 4. Georgia 103, 4. South Carolina 97, 6. Auburn 88, 7. Florida 69, 8. Mississippi State 61, 9. Vanderbilt 50, 10. Tennessee 36, 11. Kentucky 24, 12. Ole Miss 12