SEC Ratings, Week 4

Tennessee and Auburn tuned up for this weekend's big showdown by belting non-conference foes last Saturday. Tennessee rallied from a slow start to trounce Louisiana Tech 42-17, while Auburn spanked The Citadel 33-3. Both the Vols and the Tigers have some obvious flaws but they're probably playing as well as anyone in the SEC right now. Thus, Saturday's showdown ought to be a real spectacle.

While Tennessee and Auburn were dumping non-league foes, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt were bringing the SEC's reputation down a notch by losing to outsiders. Ole Miss lost 37-32 at Wyoming, while Vandy suffered the same fate at Navy, bowing by a 29-26 score.

The only games pitting SEC teams against one another saw Florida dump Kentucky 20-3, Arkansas best Alabama 27-10 and LSU manhandle Mississippi State 51-0.

Here are the latest SEC Ratings, based on the usual 1-10 scale:

Auburn 8.5: The Tigers tuned up for this weekend's showdown at Tennessee by slapping The Citadel 33-3. Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown are the best 1-2 punch in college football. If QB Jason Campbell continues playing well, the Tigers should win the SEC West.

Georgia 8.5: Georgia, idle last weekend, hasn't looked like the national title contender most preseason analysts projected it to be. The Bulldogs are still unbeaten, however, which shows they are resourceful, if not overpowering.

Tennessee 8.5: Louisiana Tech shredded the Vol defense -- passing and running -- for about 20 minutes last Saturday night. To stop the bleeding UT had to abandon its bread and butter scheme (lots of push upfront, man-to-man coverage in the secondary). That's not a real good sign.

LSU 8.5: The Tigers finally looked like a defending national champ in last Saturday's 51-0 annihilation of Mississippi State. Marcus Randall seems to be settling in as the No. 1 quarterback, which could mean the Tigers are ready to roar again.

Florida 8.0: The Gator offense struggled against Kentucky but the defense came through in a 20-3 victory. I still think this is a team capable of big things, despite its heartbreaking loss at Knoxville two Saturdays ago.

South Carolina 7.5: The Gamecocks' 17-7 defeat of Troy doesn't look impressive on the surface but Troy already knocked off Marshall and Missouri this season. Lou's crew is the most improved team in the SEC this fall, assuming it doesn't fade down the stretch as it did in 2003.

Arkansas 7.0: The Razorbacks' 27-10 thrashing of Alabama underscored that Houston Nutt is one of the finest coaches and motivators in the SEC. His youthful Hogs are playing far better than their level of inexperience suggests they should. But they'd better keep QB Matt Jones healthy.

Alabama 6.0: Mark Guillon struggled mightily in his debut as the Tide's starting QB last weekend vs. Arkansas. Unless he makes great strides in a short time, Bama's bowl hopes could crash and burn ... even with the most favorable schedule in the league.

Ole Miss 5.0: David Cutcliffe finally has the Rebels' offense clicking. After a 37-32 loss at Wyoming, however, the head man needs to find some answers for Ole Miss' defensive woes. He'd better find them quickly, too.

Vanderbilt 4.5: The Commodores have lost back-to-back games by 3 points -- at Ole Miss in overtime and at Navy (29-26). This appears to be a team that has enough physical talent to be competitive in almost every game but lacks the mental toughness to win any of them.

Kentucky 4.5: One week after springing to life against Indiana, the Wildcats' offense went into hibernation in a 20-3 loss at Florida. The Big Blue appears to be a very erratic team that ranges from lousy on its worst days to half-decent on its best days.

Mississippi State 2.5: After losing at home to Maine, then being hammered 51-0 by LSU, Mississippi State obviously is a program in shambles. The mess Sylvester Croom inherited is even worse than we thought. Better hit the recruiting trail, Sylvester ... and HARD.


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