SEC Ratings

Georgia's football program was supposed to slip in 2005 after losing difference-makers such as QB David Greene, WRs Fred Gibson and Reggie Brown, DE David Pollack, LB Odell Thurman and S Thomas Davis from its 2004 team.

Of course, everyone thought Tennessee would slip in 1998 after losing difference-makers such as QB Peyton Manning, WR Marcus Nash, DE Leonard Little and DB Terry Fair from its '97 team. Instead, the '98 Vols pulled together and won the national title.

Based on their season-opening 48-13 thrashing of No. 18 Boise State, Mark Richt's 2005 Bulldogs might be on a similar track. Georgia raced to a 38-0 lead and coasted from there. One game does not a season make, of course, but the Dawgs showed plenty of bite in their opener. That's why they top our SEC Ratings for Week 1.

Here's a look at the league, top to bottom, with each team ranked on a 1-10 scale:

1. GEORGIA (9.5): D.J. Shockley passed for 289 yards and ran for another 85 as the Dawgs crushed Boise 48-13. Shockley also produced six TDs -- five passing, one rushing. So, who needs David Greene?

2. FLORIDA (9.0): Chris Leak broke Steve Spurrier's school record by completing 17 consecutive passes as the Gators whipped Wyoming 32-14 in Urban Meyer's debut. Leak finished 26 of 34 for 320 yards and three TDs.

3. LSU (8.5): The Tigers' game with North Texas was postponed due to Hurricane Katrina.

4. TENNESSEE (8.0): The Vols built a 17-3 lead, then went to sleep in a 17-10 defeat of Alabama-Birmingham. The Big Orange limited UAB to 53 rushing yards but allowed 282 passing yards. The Vols are fortunate they have two weeks to get ready for Game 2 at Florida.

5. ALABAMA (7.5): The Tide offense rallied after a slow start but, as expected, Bama's defense proved decisive in a 26-7 defeat of Middle Tennessee. The Tide allowed just 34 rushing yards and 157 total yards.

6. ARKANSAS (7.5): The Hogs routed Div. 1-AA Missouri State 49-17 as three Arkansas backs cracked the 100-yard barrier – Felix Jones (137), Peyton Hillis (135) and De'Arrius Howard (120). As a team, the Hogs rushed for 483 yards.

7. AUBURN (7.0): Minus superstar tailbacks Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams, the Tigers managed just 50 rushing yards in a 23-14 loss to Georgia Tech. New QB Brandon Cox passed for 342 yards but lost four interceptions and a fumble.

8. SOUTH CAROLINA (6.5): Blake Mitchell completed 18 of 23 passes for 330 yards and three TDs but the Gamecocks were generally unimpressive in a 24-15 defeat of Central Florida, which has lost 16 games in a row. Steve Spurrier's team has a long way to go.

9. OLE MISS (6.5): Ed Orgeron's emphasis on defense was apparent as the Rebels limited Heisman Trophy candidate DeAngelo Williams to 85 yards on 24 carries in a 10-6 defeat of Memphis. Michael Spurlock paced the Ole Miss offense, completing 14 of 27 passes for 184 yards.

10. MISSISSIPPI STATE (6.0): The Bulldogs got great play from Omarr Conner (17 of 24 passing for 233 yards) and Jerious Norwood (123 rushing yards) in a 38-6 pasting of Murray State. The Racers are a Div. 1-AA program, however, so the victory margin could be deceiving.

11. VANDERBILT (5.0): The Commodores posted their first season-opening victory in nine years, winning 24-20 at Wake Forest. Jay Cutler passed for 276 yards and ran for 89. Vandy's defense remains porous, however, allowing backup tailback Micah Andrews to rush for 254 yards.

12. KENTUCKY (4.5): The Wildcats showed a split personality in their 31-24 loss to Louisville. They were utterly inept while falling behind 28-7 in the first half, then outscored the Cardinals 17-3 in the second half. Big Blue QB Andre Woodson completed 17 of 27 passes for 278 yards but lost three fumbles.


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