Alabama has bigger problems, however. In last weekend's 17-3 defeat of Southern MIssissippi the Tide saw its top two quarterbacks -- Brodie Croyle and Spencer Pennington -- sidelined by separated shoulders. Bama limped home behind third-teamer Brandon Avalos, who may have to start this Saturday's game at Ole Miss. If the Tide has to rely on Avalos, the Rebels (who beat Florida 20-17 and Arkansas State 55-0 the past two weekends) should be favored.
The other games on this week's schedule are Florida at Arkansas, Mississippi State at Auburn, Georgia at Vanderbilt and LSU at South Carolina. Tennessee, a loser of two games in a row, gets a much-needed weekend off.
Based on last weekend's performances, Georgia now appears to be the class of the SE after manhandling Tennessee 41-14. Arkansas surrendered that mantle after losing 10-3 to Auburn in Fayetteville. LSU blew its chance to take the top spot by suffering a shocking 19-7 homefield loss to Florida. Tennessee dropped off the map by virtue of its butt-kicking at the hands of Georgia.
The team on the rise in the SEC clearly is Auburn. Picked as a top-five program in preseason, the Tigers have won four straight after losing their first two games. Auburn's two most recent victories -- 28-21 over Tennessee and 10-3 at Arkansas -- were particularly impressive.
Florida and Ole Miss appear to be the SEC's most unpredictable teams. The Gators nearly won at Miami but lost at home to Tennessee. They were lucky to win at Kentucky and suffered a homefield loss to Ole Miss, then bounced back to stun LSU in Baton Rouge. Ole Miss has made a similar roller-coaster ride -- losing at Memphis and at home to Texas Tech, then winning at Florida and annihilating Arkansas State.
Conversely, the SEC's most consistent team is Vanderbilt. The Commodores are 0-3 in league play and 1-6 overall, with the only win coming against UT-Chattanooga.
That said, here are InsideTennessee's latest SEC rankings on the usual 1-10 scale:
S. Carolina 6.5
Ole Miss 5.5
Miss. State 4.5