SEC Ratings, Week 9

With a month of regular-season play remaining, Auburn already has clinched the SEC West title and Tennessee is awfully close to clinching the SEC East.

Tommy Tuberville's Tigers (9-0 overall, 6-0 SEC) locked up the West by beating Ole Miss 35-14 in Oxford. Phillip Fulmer's Vols (7-1, 5-1) need only to beat Vanderbilt and Kentucky -- two teams who haven't beaten UT in two decades -- to clinch the East crown.

The SEC is always interesting but last week was moreso than usual, with Auburn's clinching and Florida's firing of Ron Zook. You wonder if the Tigers will relax now that they've clinched. Likewise, you wonder if the Gators will go harder or go in the tank now that they're playing out the string under a lame-duck coach.

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

Auburn 9.5: Quarterback Jason Campbell ran for two touchdowns and passed for another as Auburn (9-0, 6-0) beat Ole Miss. Ronnie Brown (100 yards) and Cadillac Williams (96) continue to provide the best 1-2 rushing punch in college football. The Tigers are for real.

Tennessee 8.0: The mobility of backup QB Brent Schaeffer gave the Vols (7-1, 5-1) a huge lift as they rallied past South Carolina 43-29 but Schaeffer's third-quarter injury costs UT a lot of offensive flexibility. Senior tailback Cedric Houston (190 yards vs. Carolina) could be a key man the rest of the way.

Georgia 8.0: David Greene tied Peyton Manning's NCAA Div. 1-A record by winning his 39th game as a starting QB when the Dawgs (7-1, 5-1) tripped Florida 31-24. Danny Ware (103 rushing yards vs. the Gators) must continue to provide some offensive balance.

LSU 7.0: The Tigers (6-2, 3-2) rank No. 5 nationally in defense but their offense isn't blowing anybody away. LSU threw just 11 passes in beating Vanderbilt 24-7, relying almost exclusively on its ground game and its stingy defense. Of course, that's not a bad combination.

South Carolina 6.0: The Gamecocks (5-3, 3-3) dominated the first 30 minutes against Tennessee, yet went to intermission tied 8-8. They were dominated in the second half en route to a 43-29 loss. For some reason, the Cocks just can't seem to get over the proverbial hump.

Alabama 6.5: The Tide (5-3, 2-3) had an open date.

Florida 6.5: The Gators (4-4, 2-4) gave it the old college try against Georgia but found that emotion is no substitute for execution. Ron Zook's troops have a lot of talent but they simply don't play up to their potential very often.

Arkansas 6.5: The Razorbacks (3-4, 1-3) had an open date.

Ole Miss 6.0: The Rebels (3-5, 2-3) gave Auburn a pretty good game for three quarters before running out of gas and losing 35-14. Ethan Flatt (12 of 20 for 225 yards) is providing adequate play at quarterback, so Ole Miss could still earn a bowl bid.

Mississippi State 4.5: The Bulldogs (3-5, 2-3) got 165 rushing yards from Jerious Norwood, who has cracked the 100-yard barrier three games in a row. After back-to-back wins vs. Florida and UK, Mississippi State seems to be on the upswing.

Vanderbilt 4.0: The Commodores (2-6, 1-4) simply don't have enough of a ground attack to take the pressure off QB Jay Cutler, who completed just 10 of 34 passes for 111 yards in the 24-7 loss to LSU. The Dores aren't exactly loaded with defensive talent, either.

Kentucky 3.5: The Wildcats (1-7, 0-5) rank dead last among SEC teams in scoring, total offense and passing efficiency. That pretty well says it all. Losing 22-7 to Mississippi State was another nail in the coffin of coach Rich Brooks.


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