Vandy earns respect

Vanderbilt lost a game but won some respect in Saturday's 49-42 double-overtime setback at Florida. The Commodores scored two touchdowns in the final six minutes of regulation to tie the score at 35, then took a short-lived 42-35 lead in overtime. If you don't believe in moral victories, that performance at least qualifies as a quality loss.

Thanks to senior quarterback Jay Cutler, the ‘Dores have a good chance to beat Kentucky and Tennessee to finish 6-5 and – sit down before you fall down – earn a bowl bid. As a result, Vandy has moved ahead of the reeling Vols and into seventh place in the newest SEC Ratings.

LSU has won six games in a row since its inexplicable second-half collapse against Tennessee. That has enabled the Tigers to pull into a tie with Alabama for the top spot in this week's ratings.

1. Alabama (8.5): The Tide (9-0, 6-0) mustered virtually no offense in its 17-0 defeat of Mississippi State, scoring one of its touchdowns on 15-yard fumble return and the other TD on a 17-yard interception return.

2. LSU (8.5): The Tigers (7-1, 5-1) got 208 passing yards and 42 rushing yards (on just four carries) from quarterback JaMarcus Russell in a 24-0 defeat of Appalachian State.

3. Auburn (8.0): Tommy Tuberville's Tigers (7-2, 5-1) piled up 589 yards of total offense and strung together four drives of 80 yards or more in their 49-27 blowout of Kentucky.

4. Florida (7.5): The Gators (7-2, 5-2) keep winning ugly but they keep winning. Thanks to a good game from Chris Leak (32 of 41 passing for 257 yards and three TDs), they did just enough to nip Vanderbilt in double overtime.

5. Georgia (7.5): The Bulldogs (7-1, 5-1) were idle. They aren't nearly as imposing since Joe Tereshinski III replaced the injured D.J. Shockley at QB.

6. South Carolina (6.0): The Gamecocks (6-3, 4-3) are more resourceful than talented but they've won four straight. One week after nipping Tennessee by a point in Knoxville, they nipped Arkansas by four (14-10) in Fayetteville.

7. Vanderbilt (5.5): The Commodores (4-5, 2-4) got a brilliant performance from QB Jay Cutler (28 of 42 for 361 yards and four touchdowns) but came up just short against Florida.

8. Tennessee (5.0): The Vols (3-5, 2-4) have a great defense and not much else. That's why they've lost four games in a row.

9. Arkansas (5.0): The Razorbacks (2-5, 0-4) have a great running back in freshman Darren McFadden – 187 rushing yards vs. South Carolina – and not much else.

10. Ole Miss (4.5): The Rebels (3-5, 1-4) were idle.

11. Kentucky (4.0): Rafael Little gave Auburn's vaunted defense fits, rushing 17 times for 124 yards and catching six passes for another 122 yards in the Big Blue's 49-27 loss.

12. Mississippi State (3.5): The offensively challenged Bulldogs (2-7, 0-6) managed just 103 total yards against Bama, suffering their second shutout loss of the year.

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