SEC Ratings

Florida may play for the national title this year but I'm not convinced the Gators are even the best team in the Southeastern Conference. Shortly after Florida edged South Carolina by a point last Saturday, Arkansas drilled Tennessee by 17.

I give the Gators credit for clutch play, but they've been lucky to win several close games – 21-20 over Tennessee, 21-14 over Georgia, 25-19 over Vanderbilt and 17-16 over South Carolina. Arkansas, by comparison, trounced an Auburn team by 17 that beat Florida by 10 and manhandled a Vol team that played the Gators to a one-point loss.

That's why Arkansas has replaced Florida as the top team in my newest SEC Ratings.

Here they are:

1.ARKANSAS (9.0): Darren McFadden ran for 181 yards against Tennessee and might be the best player in college football. The Razorbacks have won nine in a row and look awfully good.

2.FLORIDA (8.5): After blocking two punts to edge Vanderbilt last week, the Gators needed two blocked field goals and a blocked PAT to hold off South Carolina 17-16 in Gainesville. If not for great special-teams play, Urban Meyer's crew would be 7-3, instead of 9-1.

3.LSU (8.0) JaMarcus Russell, who always looks like a world-beater against mediocre foes, completed 18 of 21 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns as the Tigers dumped Alabama 28-14.

4.TENNESSEE (7.0): The Vols were without star QB Erik Ainge in their 31-14 loss at Arkansas but, unless he could tackle Darren McFadden, he probably wouldn't have made a huge impact.

5.SOUTH CAROLINA (7.0): The Gamecocks are much better than their 5-5 record suggests, having lost 31-24 to Tennessee, 26-20 to Arkansas and 17-16 to Florida the past three weeks.

6.AUBURN (7.0): The Tigers completely self-destructed in their 37-15 loss to a Georgia team Tennessee thumped 51-33 a month earlier. Brandon Cox was 4 of 12 passing for 35 yards with three interceptions.

7.GEORGIA (6.0): Just when we thought the Bulldogs were dead, they sprang to life and manhandled Auburn 37-15. Freshman QB Matthew Stafford completed 14 of 20 passes for 219 yards and ran for another 83 on just seven carries.

8.KENTUCKY (6.0): Andre Woodson threw for 450 yards and four touchdowns in the Cats' 38-26 defeat of Vanderbilt, boosting his season total to 24 passing TDs.

9.VANDERBILT (5.5): Chris Nickson was brilliant in the Commodores' 38-26 loss at Kentucky, passing for 446 yards and running for another 71.

10.ALABAMA (5.5): John Parker Wilson (22 of 35 for 291 yards) was just about the only bright spot in the Tide's 28-14 loss at LSU. Bama is 2-5 in SEC play with Auburn still to play.

11.OLE MISS (5.0): The Rebels were idle.

12.MISSISSIPPI STATE (5.0): The Bulldogs were idle.


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