SEC Ratings

A writer trying to draw a bead on the SEC football race this fall is like an archer trying to draw a bead on an airborne butterfly. The direction changes too often – and too abruptly – to make success even a remote possibility.

Vanderbilt's stunning upset of South Carolina last Saturday in Columbia is just the latest example in a year when "Anything can happen" is becoming the rule, rather than the exception.

Having made my excuses, here are this week's SEC Ratings, based on the usual 1-10 scale, with 10 being national-championship caliber:

1.LSU (9.2): The Tigers (7-1 overall, 4-1 SEC) scored the winning TD with just one second to spare in a 30-24 defeat of Auburn. Matt Flynn quieted his critics, at least temporarily, by passing for 319 yards and three touchdowns.

2.FLORIDA (8.4): The Gators (5-2, 3-2) continue to be the Tim Tebow Show. In addition to rushing for 78 yards, the sophomore quarterback completed 18 of 26 passes for 256 yards and four TDs in an impressive 45-37 win at Kentucky.

3.KENTUCKY (8.0): The Wildcats (6-2, 2-2) got 415 passing yards and five passing TDs from Andre Woodson but had no answer for the afore-mentioned Tebow in a 45-37 home loss to Florida.

4.AUBURN (7.8): The Tigers (5-3, 3-2) led LSU with nine seconds left in Baton Route only to suffer a heart-breaking 30-24 setback. Brandon Cox threw for 199 yards and two TDs, the second one giving Auburn a 24-23 lead with 3:21 remaining.

5.SOUTH CAROLINA (7.5): The Gamecocks (6-2, 4-2) have looked awfully vulnerable the past two weeks, beating North Carolina 21-15 and then losing at home to Vandy 17-6. Quarterback play continues to be erratic as Chris Smelley (12 of 20, 145 yards, 2 interceptions) and Blake Mitchell (3 of 8, 19 yards) struggled vs. the Commodores. Still, this is a team that won at Georgia and spanked Kentucky.

6.ALABAMA (7.5): The Tide (6-2, 4-1) spotted Tennessee a 14-10 lead, then outscored the Vols 31-3 over the game's final 44 minutes en route to a 41-17 romp. John Parker Wilson (32 of 46, 363 yards, 3 TDs) and DJ Hall (13 catches, 185 yards, 2 TDs) shredded the UT defense.

7.TENNESSEE (7.2): The Vols (4-3, 2-2) unraveled after a third-quarter interception at Alabama, much as they did after a third-quarter fumble at Florida a month earlier. Clearly, this team does not handle adversity well.

8.GEORGIA (7.2): The Dawgs (5-2, 3-2) were idle.

9.ARKANSAS (7.0): The Razorbacks (4-3, 1-3) finally resembled the SEC West champs of 2006, riding the 1-2 punch of Darren McFadden (110 yards) and Felix Jones (101) to a 44-8 drubbing of Ole Miss.

10.VANDERBILT (6.7): The Commodores (5-2, 2-2) are on a roll. They beat South Carolina 17-6 one week after nearly beating Georgia. MacKenzi Adams (two TD passes) seems to be providing a spark at quarterback, and the defense limited Carolina to 195 yards of total offense.

11.MISSISSIPPI STATE (5.0): The Bulldogs (4-4, 1-4) fell behind 31-0 in the second quarter en route to a 38-13 loss at No. 9 West Virginia. The Mountaineers got four TDs and a field goal on their first five possessions.

12.OLE MISS (4.7): The Rebels (1-6, 0-5) got 84 rushing yards from BenJarvus Green-Ellis and a 37-yard TD pass from ex-Vol Brent Schaeffer in a 44-8 home-field beat-down at the hands of Arkansas..


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