SEC Ratings

Auburn was supposed to maul Ole Miss, yet the Tigers needed six fourth-quarter points to slip out of Oxford with a 23-17 win. Florida was supposed to thump Georgia but the Gators had to hold on for dear life to notch a shaky 21-14 triumph.

Last weekend's Southeastern Conference games indicate that the gap between the haves and the have-nots isn't so great this season. When a team as seemingly inept as Ole Miss can hang with a team as potentially potent as Auburn, there's no denying that simple truth.

Florida, Tennessee and Arkansas continue to hold down the 1-2-3 spots in our weekly SEC Ratings but none of these teams qualifies as a world-beater. That should keep the excitement and tension at high levels as the Eastern and Western Division races enter the stretch run.

That said, here are this week's Ratings:

1.FLORIDA (8.5): The Gators blew most of a 21-0 lead, then needed a phantom face-mask call in the final minutes to subdue Georgia 21-14.

2.TENNESSEE (8.5): The Vols' ground game continues to sputter. Arian Foster (12 for 28) and Montario Hardesty (8 for 25) combined for just 53 rushing yards as UT came from behind to beat South Carolina 31-24.

3.ARKANSAS (8.0): Tailback Darren McFadden rushed for 129 yards, ran for one touchdown and passed for another, as the Razorbacks hammered hapless Louisiana-Monroe 44-10 for Houston Nutt's 100th career win.

4.AUBURN (7.5): Brandon Cox passed for a career-best 253 yards but the Tigers needed two fourth-quarter field goals from John Vaughn to hold off Ole Miss 23-17.

5.LSU (7.5): The Tigers were idle.

6.SOUTH CAROLINA (7.0): Syvelle Newton (230 passing, 85 rushing) produced 315 yards – just 10 less than Tennessee's entire team – but the Gamecocks still lost 31-24 to the Vols.

7.ALABAMA (7.0): The Tide led just 10-3 at halftime against a winless Florida International team that was minus nine suspended starters. Bama rallied late to win 38-3.

8.GEORGIA (7.0): Five turnovers proved decisive as the mistake-prone Bulldogs suffered their third loss in the past four games, a 21-14 setback to Florida.

9.VANDERBILT (6.0): Chris Nickson accounted for three rushing touchdowns and two passing touchdowns as the Commodores drilled Duke 45-28. Nickson produced 400 yards, 250 passing and 150 rushing. Earl Bennett had a big day, too, making nine catches for 184 yards.

10.KENTUCKY (5.5): Andre Woodson passed for 284 yards and three touchdowns as the Big Blue posted a rare SEC road win, prevailing 34-31 at Mississippi State.

11.OLE MISS (5.0): Former Vol Brent Schaeffer threw two third-quarter interceptions that Auburn converted into 10 points en route to a 23-17 defeat of the Rebels.

12.MISSISSIPPI STATE (4.0): The Bulldogs' Michael Henig completed 22 of 41 passes for 384 yards and three touchdowns but MSU still fell 34-31 at home to Kentucky.


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