SEC Ratings

Don't look now but four of the top five teams in the SEC this year appear to be located in the Western Division.

Except for defending national champ and top-ranked Florida, the Eastern Division just hasn't looked that good thus far. Georgia lost its opener to an Oklahoma State team that lost to Houston a week later. South Carolina already lost to Georgia and Tennessee already lost to UCLA and Florida. Kentucky looked mediocre against Louisville over the weekend and Vanderbilt looked awful against Mississippi State.

Over in the West, however, Alabama appears awesome, Ole Miss looks outstanding, LSU has exceptional talent and Auburn is scoring points at a dizzying clip.

Could this be the year when West is Best in the SEC?

Regardless, here are this week's SEC Ratings:

1. ALABAMA (9.5): The Tide (3-0, 0-0) showed incredible balance in its 53-7 pummeling of lowly North Texas, gaining 263 passing yards and 260 rushing yards en route to 523 total yards. Greg McElroy (13 of 15, 176 yards) is maturing at quarterback and Mark Ingram (8 carries, 91 yards) is a big-play threat at tailback. Then there's special-teams ace Javier Arenas (22.5 yards on four punt returns, 61 yards on his lone kickoff return). When go-to receiver Julio Jones gets healthy, watch out.

2. FLORIDA (9.0): The Gators (3-0 overall, 1-0 SEC) saw their air of invincibility vanish as they struggled to subdue a 30-point underdog Tennessee team 23-13 at The Swamp. Tim Tebow's uncanny knack for converting on third down (8 of 13) was all that kept the Swamp Swine from suffering a humiliating home loss.

3. OLE MISS (8.5): The Rebels (2-0, 0-0) blew out Southeast Louisiana 52-6 to extend their winning streak to eight games - longest since 1972 - and improve their national ranking to No. 4 - highest since 1970. Jevan Snead completed 16 of 28 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Ole Miss defense forced five turnovers and did not allow USL to convert on any of its 14 third-down attempts.

4. LSU (7.5): The Tigers (3-0, 1-0) managed just 330 yards of total offense in a 31-3 defeat of Louisiana Lafayette. Jordan Jefferson accounted for 190 of those, completing 16 of 25 passes for 165 yards and rushing eight times for another 25.

5. AUBURN (7.5): The Tigers (3-0, 1-0) used two fourth-quarter TDs to turn a 30-27 deficit into a 41-30 defeat of visiting West Virginia. Auburn's defense allowed the Mountaineers to convert on 10 of 15 third-down plays, average 5.3 yards per carry and pile up 509 total yards but saved the day by intercepting five Mountaineer passes. Chris Todd paced the Tiger offense by completing 16 of 31 passes for 284 yards and four TDs.

6. GEORGIA (7.5): The Bulldogs (2-1, 2-0) won a shootout at Fayetteville, beating Arkansas 52-41. Joe Cox completed 18 of 26 passes for 375 yards and five touchdowns. Richard Samuel rushed 16 times for 108 yards but got 80 of those on one TD run. Counting a 41-37 defeat of South Carolina a week earlier, the Dawgs have allowed 78 points in their last two games. They were penalized a whopping 14 times for 93 yards vs. the Hogs, in addition to losing two fumbles and an interception.

7. ARKANSAS (7.5): The Razorbacks (2-1, 0-1) showed tons of offense and ounces of defense in a 52-41 loss to visiting Georgia. Ryan Mallett completed 21 of 39 passes for 408 yards and five touchdowns but the Hogs' defense couldn't stop Joe Cox, who also threw for five TDs. Mallett tossed three first-quarter TD passes en route to a 21-10 lead but got little help from his ground game (77 net yards).

8. SOUTH CAROLINA (7.0): One week after throwing 53 passes in a loss at Georgia, Stephen Garcia completed 20 of 27 passes for 222 yards - with a 15-yard touchdown run - as the Gamecocks (2-1, 0-1) trounced Florida Atlantic 38-16. Leading just 17-16 at the half, Carolina put the game on ice with three third-quarter TDs - two of them coming off FAU turnovers. Freshman Jarvis Giles produced 113 of SC's 287 rushing yards.

9. TENNESSEE (7.0): The offensively challenged Vols (1-2, 0-1) managed to hang with Florida in a 23-13 loss at The Swamp, despite passing for a mere 93 yards. Tennessee's defense limited Tim Tebow to 115 passing yards, while making him cough up a fumble and throw an interception.

10. KENTUCKY (6.0): The Big Blue (2-0, 0-0) was fortunate to hold off Louisville 31-27. Kentucky was outgained 378-346, was penalized eight times for 95 yards and was guilty of two fumbles and an interception. A 100-yard kickoff return by Derrick Locke and a 12-yard Mike Hartline-to-Randall Cobb TD pass with 4:28 left proved decisive, however.

11. MISSISSIPPI STATE (6.0): The Bulldogs (2-1, 1-1) got a 22-yard touchdown run from quarterback Tyson Lee with 3:20 left to put away Vanderbilt 15-3. Anthony Dixon rushed 21 times for 123 yards and Lee completed 8 of 14 passes for 66 yards. Mississippi State converted on just 2 of 15 third-down tries, however.

12. VANDERBILT (5.5): The Commodores (1-2, 0-2) gave new meaning to the term "offensive futility" in a 15-3 loss to Mississippi State. Vandy managed just 157 total yards - 33 rushing on 29 carries - and punted on 10 of its first 11 possessions. Quarterback Larry Smith (12 of 32, 124 yards) has completed just 23 of 56 passes for 212 yards the past two weeks.


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