SEC Ratings

When you have to hold on to beat Northern Illinois by four points on your home field on a Saturday night, you've got problems.

The Tennessee Vols have problems, which is why they check in at No. 10 in my latest SEC Ratings. Alabama, LSU, Florida and Georgia are 1-2-3-4 for the second week in a row but upstarts Vanderbilt and Kentucky check in at No. 5 and 6, respectively.

The new ratings follow, with each team graded on the usual 1-10 scale:

1. Alabama (9.0): The Tide (6-0, 3-0) jumped out to a 14-0 lead on Kentucky, then held on for a 17-14 win. Bama has now outscored its first six foes 88-0 in the initial quarter. Glen Coffee carried 25 times for 218 yards against a UK defense that came in allowing just 73 rushing yards per game. The Tide won despite suffering three turnovers and 10 penalties for 92 yards.

2. LSU (8.5): The Tigers (4-0, 2-0) had an open date.

3. Florida (8.0): The Gators (4-1 overall, 2-1 SEC) had the next-best-thing to an open date, trouncing an utterly inept Arkansas team 38-7. Florida piled up 514 yards of total offense. Speedy tailbacks Jeff Demps (7 carries for 103 yards) and Chris Rainey (10 carries for 103 yards) handled the rushing while Tim Tebow (17 of 26 for 217 yards) handled the passing. Tebow's streak of 203 consecutive throws without and interception ended in the third quarter, however.

4. Georgia (8.0): The Dawgs (4-1, 1-1) had an open date in preparation for this weekend's visit from Tennessee.

5. Vanderbilt (7.0): The Commodores (5-0, 3-0) recorded five sacks, tightening their grip on the SEC lead in that category, en route to a 14-13 defeat of Auburn. Vandy rallied from a 13-0 deficit behind the play of backup QB Mackenzi Adams, who completed 13 of 23 passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns after replacing injured starter Chris Nickson. The win ended a 13-game Commodore losing streak in the series with Auburn.

6. Kentucky (6.5): The Big Blue (4-1, 0-1) rallied from a 14-0 first-quarter deficit to play second-ranked Alabama surprisingly tough before losing 17-14 in Tuscaloosa. The Wildcats managed just 35 rushing yards but got a good passing performance from Mike Hartline, who completed 20 of 42 attempts for 241 yards.

7. South Carolina (6.0): Down 14-3 at Ole Miss, the Gamecocks (4-2, 1-2) got a 20-yard TD pass from Chris Smelley on third-and-goal, then got a 29-yard fumble return for touchdown by Nathan Peppers in a one-minute spurt that turned an 11-point deficit into a three-point lead en route to a 31-24 victory. Smelley finished 22 of 31 passing for 327 yards and three TDs.

8. Auburn (6.0): The Tigers (4-2, 2-2) missed a PAT, managed a paltry 208 yards of total offense and squandered a 13-0 first-quarter lead in a 14-13 loss at Vanderbilt. Chris Todd completed 8 of 16 passes for a mere 70 yards but did throw two TD passes.

9. Ole Miss (5.5): The Rebels (3-3, 1-2) generated just 129 yards and three points after intermission in a 31-24 loss to visiting South Carolina. Jevan Snead completed 21 of 32 passes for 243 yards but the Rebels were done in by three turnovers.

10. Tennessee (4.5): The Vols (2-3, 0-2) continued to elevate stopping themselves to an art form in a lackluster 13-9 defeat of Northern Illinois. The defense did not allow a touchdown for the second time this fall and first-time starting QB Nick Stephens (10 of 17, 156 yards) was another bright spot.

11. Mississippi State (4.0): The Bulldogs (1-4, 0-2) had an open date.

12. Arkansas (2.5): The Razorbacks (2-3, 0-2) have lost their last three games – 49-14 to Bama, 52-10 to Texas, 38-7 to Florida – by a combined score of 139-31. Michael Smith (133 rushing yards) had a good outing vs. the Gators.


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