Vols continue nosedive

Tennessee's underachieving football team continues to drop games and drop in the Rockytop.com SEC Ratings.

The Vols lost for the fifth time in six games Saturday, falling 28-24 to a Vanderbilt team that lost at home to Kentucky a week earlier. As a result, UT has slipped below the Commodores and the Wildcats into 10th place in the rankings with just one week to go in the regular season.

On a positive note, the Vols still rank ahead of the SEC's two Mississippi schools.

That said, here are this week's ratings:

1. LSU (9.0): The Tigers (9-1 overall, 6-1 SEC) crushed home-standing Ole Miss 40-7 on Saturday for their eighth win in a row since losing to Tennessee. They're still trying to figure that one out.

2. AUBURN (9.0): Tommy Tuberville's team (9-2, 7-1) beat Alabama much worse than the 28-18 score indicated last weekend. Auburn would be playing for the SEC title if its field-goal kicker hadn't gone 1 for 6 in its overtime loss to LSU.

3. GEORGIA (8.5): The Dawgs (8-2, 6-2) locked up the SEC East title by hammering Kentucky 45-13. Georgia's D.J. Shockley (17 of 31 for 159 yards and four TDs) is the league MVP in my book unless he chokes in the SEC Championship Game.

4. ALABAMA (8.0): If the Tide (9-2, 6-2) had an offense to go with its defense, it would be awesome. Where have Tennessee fans heard that before? Alabama managed just 43 total yards in the first half of its 28-18 loss to Auburn.

5. SOUTH CAROLINA (6.5): The Gamecocks (7-4, 5-3) lost to Clemson 13-9 last weekend by parlaying 251 first-half yards into just six first-half points. The loss snapped a five-game winning streak.

6. FLORIDA (6.5): The Gators were idle.

7. ARKANSAS (5.5): The Razorbacks (4-6, 2-5) have improved throughout the season, thanks to the emergence of freshman tailback Darren McFadden. He ran for 165 yards in last weekend's 44-10 blowout of Mississippi State and has 1,056 for the year.

8. VANDERBILT (5.5): I'm rating the Commodores (5-6, 3-5) ahead of Kentucky, a team that beat them one week earlier, because Vandy has a brilliant pass/catch duo in Jay Cutler and Earl Bennett. Cutler completed 27 of 39 passes for 315 yards in Saturday's 28-24 upset of Tennessee, with Bennett catching 14 of those passes for 167 yards.

9. KENTUCKY (5.0): The Wildcats (3-7, 2-5) were blown out by Georgia 45-13 last Saturday but they beat Vanderbilt in Nashville one week before Vanderbilt beat Tennessee in Knoxville. Are they better than the Vols? They'll get a chance to prove it Saturday in Lexington.

10. TENNESSEE (5.0): The Vols 4-6, 2-5) have dropped five of their last six games, including a humbling home-field loss to perennial whipping boy Vanderbilt last Saturday. Freshman tailback Arian Foster (40 rushes for 223 yards) is UT's only bright spot these days.

11. OLE MISS (3.5): Even with heralded Michael Oher in the offensive line, the Rebels (3-7, 1-6) managed just 10 rushing yards vs. Arkansas on Nov. 12 and 7 rushing yards vs. LSU on Nov. 19.

12. MISSISSIPPI STATE (3.0): The Bulldogs (2-8, 0-7) have lost 19 consecutive games against SEC West foes and 21 consecutive SEC road games. The good news: They get to play Ole Miss this week.


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