Rating the SEC, Week 2

t's a sad commentary on the state of Southeastern Conference football when the biggest positive to be gleaned from Week 2 is that Florida and Alabama posted ''moral victories'' by losing in competitive fashion to highly ranked outsiders.

Did Bama's 20-13 loss to top-ranked Oklahoma and Florida's 38-33 setback to No. 3 Miami restore the prestige the SEC lost in Week 1, when Kentucky lost to Louisville, Auburn to Southern Cal and Mississippi State to Oregon? Not really. Ole Miss and Auburn embarrassed the league -- the Rebels losing by 10 to Memphis and the enigmatic Tigers being declawed by Georgia Tech, of all people. Who's the Ramblin' Wreck now?

There is no truth to the rumors that Auburn head man Tommy Tuberville is buying up all the rope in South Alabama to keep from being lynched. However, he and his program have become the butt of nation-wide jokes. ESPN football analyst Jim Donnan quipped earlier this week that the Tigers are changing their mascot from a War Eagle to a possum because ''they play dead at home and get killed on the road.''

That's an old joke, of course, but it's just about all SEC fans have to smile about these days. The league posted seven victories against outside opposition last weekend, but the only notable win was South Carolina's stunning upset of No. 15 Virginia one week after the Gamecocks barely squeaked past Louisina-LaFayette.

As expected, Kentucky hammered Murray State, Arkansas manhandled Tulsa, Georgia sleepwalked past Middle Tennessee State, LSU pounded Arizona, Vanderbilt vanquished UT-Chattanooga and Tennessee held off an unexpectedly pesky Marshall team.

Intra-league play begins in earnest this week with several intriguing matchups on tap. Kentucky could give Alabama a good test in Tuscaloosa unless the Wildcats self-destruct the way they did two weeks earlier against Louisville. Auburn limps into Nashville hoping to notch its first win (and score its first touchdown) against a Vanderbilt team that could make things interesting. Up-and-down South Carolina is hoping to be up when it faces Georgia in Athens.

Probably the most intense game on this week's SEC slate is Arkansas visiting Texas. The former Southwest Conference rivals have waged some memorable wars through the years, and this year's game could be a dandy if the Hogs can mount a decent passing attack.

The rest of this week's slate offers the usual assortment of September snoozers -- Florida hosting Florida A&M, LSU hosting Western Illinois, Ole Miss hosting Louisiana-Monroe and Mississippi State visiting Tulane.

Unless Arkansas beats Texas, the SEC won't gain any luster this week.

Here's an updated ranking of the SEC schools on a 1-10 scale:

Georgia 9
Florida 8.5
LSU 8
Alabama 8
Tennesse 7.5
Arkansas 7
S. Carolina 6.5
Auburn 6
Kentucky 5
Ole Miss 4
Vanderbilt 3.5
Miss. State 3


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