West is best

Historically, the East is the beast in SEC football but this year the West is best.

Auburn rolled into Athens Saturday and knocked off East leader Georgia 31-30. And the Tigers aren't even the best team in the West. That would be LSU, which has won seven games in a row since stubbing its toe against Tennessee two months ago.

Auburn may not even be the second-best team in the West. That distinction may go to Alabama, which visits Auburn this weekend in the annual Iron Bowl showdown.

How weak is the SEC East? Well, the top three spots in this week's SEC Ratings belong to teams from the Western Division. Those ratings follow:

1. LSU (9.0): The Tigers (8-1 overall, 6-1 SEC) nipped Alabama 16-13 in overtime Saturday at Tuscaloosa and need only to beat Ole Miss and Arkansas the next two weekends to lock up the SEC West title.

2. Auburn (8.5): Tommy Tuberville's Tigers (8-2, 6-1) got 179 rushing yards from Kenny Irons in edging home-standing Georgia 31-30.

3. Alabama (8.0): The Tide (9-1, 6-1) saw its unbeaten season end with a 16-13 overtime loss to LSU. Bama's defense had gone 17 quarters without allowing a touchdown until the Tigers posted one in the third period.

4. Georgia (8.0): The Bulldogs (7-2, 5-2) got 304 passing yards and 40 rushing yards from D.J. Shockley but the defense couldn't stop Auburn when it mattered most.

5. South Carolina (6.5): Steve Spurrier has never lost a Florida-South Carolina game. He was 10-0 coaching the Gators against the Gamecocks and Saturday's 30-22 upset of Florida made him 1-0 on the other side of the equation. The Cocks (7-3, 5-3) have won five games in a row.

6. Florida (6.5): The Gators (7-3, 5-3) got a good passing performance from Chris Leak (18 of 31 for 210 yards) in their loss to South Carolina but they can't stop anybody.

7. Tennessee (5.0): The Vols (4-5, 2-4) had just enough grit to win 20-16 against a Memphis team playing without NCAA rushing leader DeAngelo Williams. The UT offense is painful to watch.

8. Arkansas (5.0): The Razorbacks (3-5, 1-4) didn't get much out of freshman tailback Darren McFadden (22 rushing yards on 13 carries), so they relied on freshman quarterback Casey Dick (17 of 24, 175 yards, 3 TDs) in a 28-17 triumph at Ole Miss.

9. Vanderbilt (5.0): The Commodores (4-6, 2-5) spotted Kentucky a 34-3 lead, then roared back in a 48-43 loss. Jay Cutler completed 39 of 66 passes for 396 yards and five TDs – all to Earl Bennett.

10. Kentucky (5.0): The Wildcats (3-6, 2-4) hung 48 points on Vandy a week after putting up 27 points on Auburn, the most points the Tigers have allowed all season. If only the Big Blue had a defense …

11. Ole Miss (3.5): The Rebels (3-6, 1-5) managed just 10 rushing yards in a 28-17 home-field loss to Arkansas. Their offense is even worse than Tennessee's.

12. Mississippi State (3.5): The Bulldogs (2-7, 0-6) were idle. They've scored just 13 touchdowns all season, meaning their offense is even worse than Ole Miss' and Tennessee's.


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