Last week: 1 (beat #3 Arkansas 41-17). Next game: vs. #13 Georgia (Atlanta)
2. Alabama (11-1, 7-1): The Crimson Tide seems nice and recovered from the loss to LSU now Auburn was no match and now Alabama can only sit back and wait to figure out whether it heads to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl or BCS Championship Game.
Last week: 2 (beat Auburn 42-14). Next game: TBD
3. Georgia (10-2, 7-1): After operating so long off the national radar this season, the Bulldogs get their shot front and center this week against LSU. Beating the Tigers would be a huge feather in Georgia's cap, but just getting to Atlanta is a major step in the right direction.
Last week: 4 (beat #25 Georgia Tech 31-17). Next game: vs. #1 LSU (Atlanta)
4. Arkansas (10-2, 6-2): For about 18 minutes, the Razorbacks looked like they belonged in the "best in the country" discussion with LSU and Alabama. Then the Tigers woke up and clarified that there's only room for two SEC teams in that stratosphere. Still, a great season for the Hogs and they'll have a chance for a strong finish in either Orlando or Arlington.
Last week: 3 (lost to #1 LSU 41-17). Next game: TBD
|Quin Smith (24) and D.J. Swearinger (36) are two of the key parts of an improved South Carolina defense|
5. South Carolina (10-2, 6-2): If not for a hiccup against Auburn, the Gamecocks are working out for their second straight SEC Championship Game appearance this week. As it is, Carolina is a team making progress at the right time of year and a tough draw for a bowl opponent.
Last week: 5 (beat Clemson 38-17). Next game: TBD
6. Auburn (7-5, 4-4): Fitting that Auburn is in the six-hole of the Power Poll because these Tigers typify how ordinary the league has been this season after the top five. Auburn had its moments (as South Carolina van attest), but was outclassed by the top four, losing by an average of 37.5-13.3 against Arkansas, LSU, Georgia and Alabama.
Last week: 6 (lost to #2 Alabama 42-14). Next game: TBD
7. Florida (6-6, 3-5): The Gators never really recovered from their October nose dive and now they get to choke the indignity of Urban Meyer surfacing at Ohio State. A bowl game and the chance to erase some negative energy can't get here quickly enough for Florida.
Last week: 7 (lost to Florida State 21-7). Next game: TBD
8. Mississippi State (6-6, 2-6): The Bulldogs finished on a strong note by routing Ole Miss, but now the attention shifts to whether or not they'll hold onto their coach. Dan Mullen is rumored to be a leading candidate at Penn State and without much of a postseason berth to look forward to, he could bolt sooner rather than later.
Last week: 8 (beat Ole Miss 31-3). Next game: TBD
9. Vanderbilt (6-6, 2-6): Funny how differently 6-6 is perceived at Florida and Vanderbilt. That's a huge step forward for the Commodores and with the personable James Franklin at the helm, they have a shot to generate some nice offseason momentum with a bowl win.
Last week: 9 (beat Wake Forest 41-7) Next game: TBD
10. Kentucky (6-6, 2-6): Even though the Wildcats are still way down the totem pole in terms of attention on their own campus, you have to respect the way they came out and gritted out the win against Tennessee – UK's first vs. the Vols since 1984. With that monkey chased away, the Cats can head to a bowl game in a good mood.
Last week: 11 (beat Tennessee 10-7). Next game: TBD
|Tough days for Tennessee and Derek Dooley|
11. Tennessee (5-7, 1-7):If the seat wasn't warming up for Derek Dooley before, it sure is now. The Vols are a fluky overtime interception away from being winless in the SEC, and that can't sit too well with a program of UT's tradition and pride. Dooley is likely to get one more year to turn the worm, but if there's not huge improvement, well, the red of embarrassed faces really clashes with that orange.
Last week: 10 (lost to Kentucky 10-7). Next game: 2012 season opener
12. Ole Miss (2-10, 0-8): The season is over and for Ole Miss, that's as merciful as it gets. Houston Nutt rides off into the sunset after the Rebels' worst season since the 1930s and the new coach won't exactly inherit a wealth of talent. Ole Miss might get comfortable in the cellar for a while.
Last week: 12 (lost to Mississippi State 31-3). Next game: 2012 season opener
This week's schedule
SEC Championship Game: LSU vs. Georgia, 3 p.m. in Atlanta
Game of the week
LSU vs. Georgia: The Tigers and Bulldogs collide for the third time in the SEC Championship Game, the second time with LSU's sights set on earning a chance to play for the national championship. The Tigers are the top-ranked team for the ninth week in a row, the longest stretch during one season in program history. Georgia is the eighth ranked team the Tigers have faced this season. The Bulldogs are the only SEC team LSU coach Les Miles does not have a winning record (1-2) against. Bulldogs' coach Mark Richt is 3-3 against LSU. This is the 10th time the Tigers have played in the Georgia Dome. Their only loss there was a 34-14 setback vs. Georgia in the 2005 SEC Championship Game. Of LSU's eight wins in the Dome, seven have come against ranked foes. The Tigers are looking to only the fifth SEC team to improve to 13-0. Georgia is playing its second game at the Georgia Dome this season after opening the season there with a 35-21 loss to Boise State. The Bulldogs' current 10-game winning streak is their longest since 1982 when Vince Dooley guided that team to an 11-0 regular season. In the 10-game streak, the Bulldogs' defense has surrendered only 133 points and 12 touchdowns. The UGa run defense has clamped down during the streak, giving up only 75.7 yards a game on the ground. Georgia QB Aaron Murray has already established a single-season school record with 32 touchdown passes.
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 118, 4. Georgia 109, 4. South Carolina 97, 6. Auburn 84, 7. Florida 67, 8. Mississippi State 60, 9. Vanderbilt 53, 10. Kentucky 34, 11. Tennessee 26, 12. Ole Miss 12