SEC Ratings

It's early, of course, but Alabama and Florida appeared headed for BCS bids, with everyone else in the SEC battling for a trip to the Capital One Bowl.

The Crimson Tide and Gators get 9.5 ratings on my 1-10 scale this week, then there's a significant drop-off to the next level. Five teams are accorded 7.5 rankings and three more are given 7.0 marks. That means those eight teams are more or less equally adequate, despite a diverse assortment of strengths and weaknesses.

That said, here's a closer look at this week's SEC Ratings:

1. ALABAMA (9.5): The Tide (4-0, 1-0) trounced Arkansas 35-7 as Bama QB Greg McElroy (17 of 24, 291 yards, 3 TDs) outplayed the Hogs' Ryan Mallett (12 of 35, 160 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception). The Tide flashed some big-play ability, as Marquis Maze had an 80-yard touchdown catch, Julio Jones had a 65-yard TD grab and Trent Richardson had a 52-yard TD run.

2. FLORIDA (9.5): The Gators (4-0 overall, 2-0 SEC) jumped on Kentucky 31-0 in the opening quarter, then coasted to a 41-7 victory. Star QB Tim Tebow suffered a third-quarter concussion, but not before he piled up 123 rushing yards (on 16 carries) and 103 passing years (on 5 completions in 10 attempts).

3. AUBURN (7.5): The Tigers (4-0, 1-0) amassed 560 total yards - 306 passing, 254 rushing - on their way to a 54-30 beat-down of Ball State. Chris Todd threw for 287 yards and five TDs, including scoring strikes of 46 and 65 yards to Terrell Zachery.

4. LSU (7.5): Les Miles' Tigers (4-0, 2-0) had to stop Mississippi State on third and fourth down at the one-foot line in the final minute to seal a 30-26 victory. Jordan Jefferson completed 15 of 28 passes for 233 yards, with the key ones going to Brandon LaFell (6 catches, 101 yards, 2 TDs). LSU won despite converting on just 2 of 13 third-down plays.

5. GEORGIA (7.5): The Bulldogs (3-1, 2-0) squandered a 14-3 first-quarter lead and needed a 37-yard Blair Walsh field goal as time expired to nip Arizona State 20-17. Joe Cox completed 17 of 31 passes for 242 yards and a TD but threw a pair of picks, one of which was returned 47 yards for a Sun Devil score. A.J. Green starred for the Dawgs, catching 8 balls for 153 yards and blocking a field-goal try in the final minutes.

6. SOUTH CAROLINA (7.5): The Gamecocks (3-1, 1-1) relied on a stingy defense to upset fourth-ranked Ole Miss 16-10. SC quarterback Stephen Garcia completed just 16 of 34 passes for 220 yards and got a mere 65 net yards from his ground attack. The Cocks had lost 22 consecutive games to top-five opponents coming in and stood 1-31 all-time.

7. OLE MISS (7.5): The Rebels (2-1, 0-1) didn't look like the No. 4 team in the country and Jevan Snead didn't look like a Heisman candidate in a 16-10 loss at South Carolina. Snead completed just 7 of 21 passes for 107 yards and Ole Miss managed to convert on just 1 of 13 third-down tries en route to a mere 248 total yards.

8. ARKANSAS (7.0): The Razorbacks (2-2, 0-2) had their explosive passing attack shut down in a 35-7 loss to Alabama. The Hogs converted just 2 of 14 third-down tries and saw star quarterback Ryan Mallett sacked three times, intercepted once and limited to 12 completions in 35 attempts for 160 yards. Arkansas was flagged 11 times, as well.

9. TENNESSEE (7.0): The Vols (2-2, 0-1) got 140 rushing yards from Montario Hardesty and just enough plays from their patchwork passing attack to subdue Ohio University 34-23. Daniel Lincoln hit a career-best 49-yard field goal but the Big Orange allowed a 95-yard kickoff return.

10. MISSISSIPPI STATE (7.0): The Bulldogs (2-2, 1-2) had LSU on the ropes but couldn't score on two plays from the 1-foot line in the final minutes of a 30-26 loss. Tyson Lee completed just 15 of 38 passes for 172 yards with three interceptions. Anthony Dixon carried 27 times for 106 yards and two TDs but didn't touch the ball on MSU's final two plays.

11. KENTUCKY (5.5): The Big Blue (2-1, 0-1) was no match for top-ranked Florida, falling behind 31-0 in the first quarter en route to a 41-7 home-field setback. The Cats surrendered 362 rushing yards and their offense was just as bad, managing just 93 passing yards, 86 rushing yards and converting on just 3 of 16 third-down plays.

12. VANDERBILT (5.5): The Commodores (2-2, 0-2) outgained Rice 484 to 282 in total yards en route to a 36-17 victory. The Dores forced four turnovers and limited the Owls to 3 of 18 on third-down conversions. Larry Smith completed 23 of 41 passes for 268 yards and Warren Norman rushed 11 times for 119 yards.


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