SEC Ratings

A lot of Tennessee fans overreacted with glee when the Vols routed Western Kentucky 63-7 in Game 1 and overreacted with anguish when the Vols lost 19-15 to UCLA in Game 2.

The fact Tennessee dropped from fourth last week to ninth this week in my SEC Ratings would seem to be an overreaction, as well. It isn't. The Vols' numerical grade slipped just one point (from 7.5 to 6.5). The problem was that LSU, Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina improved their grades from Week 1 to Week 2 and nudged ahead of the Vols.

With 11 weeks of SEC regular-season action remaining, there's sure to be a lot more moving and shaking in the weeks to come.

That said, here are this week's ratings:

1. FLORIDA (9.5): After outscoring Charleston Southern and Troy a combined 118-9, the Gators (2-0 overall, 0-0 SEC) have proved they can manhandle mediocre opponents. They outgained Troy 663 to 139 in yards, limiting the visitors to 8-of-24 passing for 66 yards and 2 of 16 on third-down conversions. Florida converted 10 of 14 third-down plays but provided a glimmer of hope for future foes by coughing up three fumbles.

2. ALABAMA (9.0): The Tide (2-0, 0-0) got just one nine-yard catch from superstar receiver Julio Jones (he has five receptions for 55 yards through two games) and needed two fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull away from Florida International 40-14. Bama outgained FIU 516-214 (including 275 to 1 rushing) as Trent Richardson ran for 118 yards on just 15 carries. First-year starting quarterback Greg McElroy completed 18 of 24 passes for 241 yards and a TD.

3. OLE MISS (7.5): The Rebels (1-0, 0-0) had the weekend off.

4. LSU (7.5): The Tigers (2-0, 1-0) played keep-away against Vanderbilt, holding the ball for 36:23 to the Commodores' 23:37 in a 23-9 win at Baton Rouge. LSU converted on 9 of 17 third-down plays and Jordan Jefferson completed 20 of 29 passes for 138 yards. Josh Jasper hit field goals of 32, 22 and 24 yards but it was a 14-yard TD burst by Keiland Williams with just 6:01 remaining that sealed the win.

5. AUBURN (7.5): The Tigers (2-0, 1-0) piled up 390 rushing yards and 589 total yards in thumping Mississippi State 49-24. Ben Tate (157 yards) averaged 7.9 per carry, Onterio McCalebb (114) averaged 7.1 per carry and Mario Fannin (75) averaged 8.3 per carry in the romp. Auburn overcame a slow start for the second game in a row. After leading Louisiana Tech 13-10 at halftime in Game 1, the Tigers trailed Mississippi State 17-14 in the second quarter before catching fire. Chris Todd completed 10 of 23 passes for 186 yards to supplement Auburn's dynamic ground attack.

6. ARKANSAS (7.5): The Razorbacks (1-0, 0-0) had an open date.

7. GEORGIA (7.0): The Bulldogs (1-1, 1-0) stopped South Carolina seven yards from the game-winning touchdown with 22 seconds left to nip the Gamecocks 41-37 in Athens. Mark Richt's Dawgs proved they are special on special teams, blocking a fourth-quarter PAT that would've tied the score at 38-all, getting a 100-yard kickoff return from Brandon Boykin and getting field goals of 50 and 42 yards from Blair Walsh.

8. SOUTH CAROLINA (7.0): An offense that was awful in Game 1 roared to life in Game 2 but the Gamecocks (1-1, 0-1) still suffered a 41-37 loss at Georgia. Stephen Garcia completed 31 of 53 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns but his final pass fell incomplete at the UGA 7-yard line with 22 seconds left, sealing the Cocks' doom. Eric Norwood had a 35-yard interception return TD for Carolina. Spencer Lanning nailed field-goal tries of 21, 39, 22, 35 and 34 yards but had a PAT blocked that would've tied the score at 38-all in the fourth quarter.

9. TENNESSEE (6.5): Now the question has been answered: Tennessee wasn't that good ... Western Kentucky was that bad. The homestanding Vols (1-1, 0-0) lost three interceptions and a fumble in a 19-15 Game 2 setback to UCLA. The mistake-prone offensive performance nullified a fine effort by the defense, which limited the Bruins to 186 total yards.

10. VANDERBILT (6.5): The Commodores (1-1, 0-1) couldn't sustain much offense in a 23-9 loss at LSU. Zac Stacy rushed 20 times for 89 yards but Larry Smith completed just 11 of 24 passes for 88 yards and Vandy lost the time-of-possession battle by nearly 13 full minutes.

11. KENTUCKY (6.0): The Big Blue (1-0, 0-0) had the weekend off.

12. MISSISSIPPI STATE (6.0): The Bulldogs (1-1, 0-1) parlayed a blocked-punt TD return into an early 17-14 lead but couldn't stop Auburn's ground attack in a 49-24 loss to the Tigers. Chris Relf (5 of 11, 77 yards) and Tyson Lee (6 of 10, 53 yards) combined to complete 11 of 21 passes for 130 yards but Relf threw two interceptions. Anthony Dixon gained 92 rushing yards on 20 attempts.


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