SEC Ratings

I picked Florida to go 12-0 this year, and I'm sticking by that prediction after watching the gifted Gators' speed overwhelm Hawaii on Saturday afternoon. I think Urban Meyer's team clearly deserves to be No. 1 in my initial SEC Ratings of 2008.

Each team is ranked on the usual 1-10 scale. Here's the complete list:

1. Florida (9.5): Tim Tebow completed 9 of 14 passes for 137 yards and ran nine times for another 37 as the Gators (1-0) hammered Hawaii 56-10. Florida's incredible team speed resulted in six scoring plays of 32 yards or more, including an 80-yard interception return and a 73-yard punt return.

2. Georgia (8.5): Star tailback Knowshon Moreno got just 10 touches but he made them count as the Bulldogs (1-0) hammered Georgia Southern 45-21. His eight carries produced 59 yards and three touchdowns, while his two receptions tacked on another 53 yards. Losing star defensive tackle Jeff Owens (season-ending knee injury) will hurt, though.

3. LSU (8.5): So, who needs a quarterback? Despite getting a combined 13 completions from quarterbacks Andrew Hatch (7 of 14, 77 yards) and Jarrett Lee (6 of 10, 116 yards), the Tigers (1-0) rolled to a 31-0 first-half lead en route to a 41-10 annihilation of Appalachian State. LSU piled up 266 rushing yards along the way.

4. Auburn (8.0): So, who needs a passing game? Tony Franklin's regular-season debut as offensive coordinator for the Tigers (1-0) produced 321 rushing yards and just 85 passing yards in a 34-0 drubbing of Louisiana-Monroe. Ben Tate led the ground game with 115 yards on 13 carries. QBs Kodi Burns (4 of 9, 15 yards) and Chris Todd (9 of 15, 70 yards) were so-so.

5. Alabama (8.0): The Tide (1-0) can't be as good as it looked in Game 1. John Parker Wilson completed 22 of 30 passes for 180 yards and Leigh Tiffin nailed a 54-yard field goal as Bama manhandled ninth-ranked Clemson 34-10. The Tide's defense limited the Tigers to 188 net yards. Still, my guess is that Clemson is vastly overrated.

6. South Carolina (7.5): The Gamecocks (1-0) looked like a 4-8 team while Tommy Beecher was playing quarterback in the first three quarters but looked like a 10-2 team while Chris Smelley was playing quarterback in the fourth quarter vs. North Carolina State. The defense looked great all night, completely shutting down the Wolfpack en route to a 34-0 romp.

7. Tennessee (6.0): The Vols (0-1) limited UCLA to 29 rushing yards and intercepted four passes but allowed TDs on the Bruins' last two possessions of regulation in a 27-24 overtime loss. The UT offense has a long way to go.

8. Ole Miss (6.0): Touted Texas transfer Jevan Snead completed just 10 of 22 passes for 185 yards in his debut for Ole Miss (1-0) but the "Wild Rebel" saved the day in a 41-24 defeat of Memphis. Ole Miss' version of the "Wild Hog" attack that Houston Nutt used at Arkansas produced 148 yards on 10 snaps. Dexter McCluster played the role of direct-snap tailback, much as Darren McFadden did at Arkansas.

9. Kentucky (5.5): The Wildcats (1-0) managed just 210 yards of total offense but held Louisville to 205 yards in a 27-2 upset on Sunday afternoon. A much -maligned Wildcat defense outscored the UK attack unit 14-13 by producing 72 and 28-yard fumble returns for touchdowns. Big Blue QB Mike Hartline was a so-so 16 of 31 for 147 yards, while running backs Tony Dixon (12 carries, 27 yards) and Derrick Locke (10 carries, 25 yards) combined for just 52 rushing yards.

10. Vanderbilt (5.0): The Commodores (1-0) had gone 0-4 since beating Miami of Ohio last season but they manhandled the RedHawks 34-13 in the 2008 opener. D.J. Moore had a 91-yard punt return and an interception. Chris Nickson completed 9 of 16 passes for 91 yards and ran for another 166.

11. Mississippi State (3.5): The Bulldogs (0-1) went 8-5 last year with virtually no offense but it caught up to them in the 2008 opener. Leading 14-3 with less than 30 seconds remaining in the first half, they were outscored 19-0 the rest of the way in a 22-14 loss at Louisiana Tech. Three interceptions and two fumbles proved devastating.

12. Arkansas (3.0): The Razorbacks (1-0) needed a four-yard touchdown run by quarterback Casey Dick with 1:49 left to overcome lowly Western Illinois 28-24. No. 1 tailback Michael Smith missed the game on a one-game suspension related to "improper use of textbooks."

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