SEC Ratings, Week 5

Tennessee upset Georgia in Athens, Ole Miss upset South Carolina in Columbia and LSU upset Florida in Gainesville. Alabama hammered Kentucky in Lexington, Alabama-Birmingham whipped Mississippi State 27-13 in Starkville and Rutgers beat Vanderbilt 37-34 in Nashville.

Whatever happened to the homefield advantage in the SEC?

It was bounce-back weekend last Saturday. Tennessee beat Georgia one week after being pounded by Auburn. LSU beat Florida one week after being humbled by Georgia. Ole Miss stunned Carolina one week after struggling to hold off a pitiful Arkansas State team.

All of the above just reinforces what we already knew: Anything can happen in SEC football. Unranked teams beat ranked teams, visitors beat home teams and teams coming off shellackings sometimes make remarkable turnarounds just seven days later.

That said, here are the latest SEC Ratings, based on the usual 1-10 scale:

Auburn 9.0: Clearly the SEC's best team right now, the talented Tigers (3-0 SEC, 6-0 overall) tuned up for the stretch run with a 52-17 blowout of Louisiana Tech. For what it's worth, Cadillac Williams now has 39 career TDs, tying him for ninth place in SEC history with two former Vols -- Stanley Morgan and Little Man Stewart.

Tennessee 8.0: It's becoming increasingly obvious that the youthful Vols (2-1, 4-1) are on a rollercoaster ride -- up one minute, down the next. Gerald Riggs (26 carries, 102 yards vs. Georgia) may have supplanted Cedric Houston (12 for 28 yards) as the first-team tailback.

Georgia 8.0: Seven days after incurring just one penalty vs. LSU, the Dawgs (2-1, 4-1) sustained 12 vs. Tennessee. This kind of sputtering offense could cost the Bulldogs the SEC East title everyone was ready to concede to them in preseason.

LSU 7.5: The Tigers (2-2, 4-2) bounced back from that embarrassing loss to Georgia to notch a comeback win at Florida. LSU also came from behind to beat Oregon State earlier this year, overcoming a 15-7 deficit to prevail in overtime. Clearly, this team has heart.

Florida 7.5: Why can't Florida hold a lead? The Gators (2-2, 3-2) led Arkansas 38-7 and nearly lost the game. Then they led LSU 21-7 and eventually fell 24-21. Many Florida fans reportedly are cheering against the team, reasoning that a few more losses will get Ron Zook fired.

South Carolina 7.0: The Gamecocks (2-2, 4-4) were allowing just 102 rushing yards per game until they gave up 178 rushing yards to an offensively challenged Ole Miss team. That's because the Rebels exploited the Gamecocks' pass defense enough to open some running lanes.

Arkansas 7.0: The Razorbacks, idle last weekend, have been the most efficient offense in the SEC. In 23 red-zone possessions, they have scored an amazing 19 touchdowns. That's a real testament to QB Matt Jones, the only returning starter from the 2003 offense.

Ole Miss 6.0: The Rebels (2-1, 3-3) are still in the SEC West title chase after shocking Carolina. Ethan Flatt (18 of 27 for 214 yards) appears to be settling in at QB, so former UT aide David Cutcliffe's team could give the Vols a severe test this Saturday in Oxford.

Alabama 5.5: The Tide (2-2, 4-2) rushed for 304 yards vs. Kentucky but tailback Ray Hudson suffered a knee injury that could prove costly. The Tide will struggle against teams with decent run defenses.

Vanderbilt 4.0: The Commodores (1-2, 1-4) led Rutgers 27-3 only to blow the lead and the game. They've suffered three 3-point losses this season, which suggests they simply don't know how to close the deal.

Kentucky 3.0: After homefield losses to Ohio U and Alabama -- the latter by 28 points -- it's obvious the Big Blue (0-2, 1-4) is getting worse instead of better. Rich Brooks better have a nice retirement plan because his days as a head coach appear numbered.

Mississippi State 2.0: Jerious Norwood rushed for 201 yards vs. UAB, which is a bright spot. After losing at home to Maine and Alabama-Birmingham in recent weeks, the Bulldogs (0-3, 1-5) have just one winnable game left on their schedule ... a visit from Kentucky on Oct. 30.


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