SEC Ratings

Alabama and Florida moved a lot closer to meeting in the SEC Championship Game with big road victories on Saturday.

Third-ranked Bama beat preseason top-10 Ole Miss in Oxford and top-ranked Florida dumped fourth-ranked and previously unbeaten LSU in Baton Rouge.

Although the national polls continue to rank the Gators ahead of the Tide, I still believe Bama's got a little more on the ball at this point. Thus, Bama remains No. 1 in my SEC Ratings, while Florida remains 1-A.

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

1. ALABAMA (9.5): The Tide (6-0, 3-0) beat Ole Miss 22-3 despite a 15-of-34, 147-passing performance from Greg McElroy and a woeful 4-of-20 conversion rate on third down. Bama did it with defense and five Leigh Tiffin field goals.

2. FLORIDA (9.5): The Gators (5-0 overall, 3-0 SEC) also won with defense, limiting LSU to a paltry 162 yards of total offense and one conversion on nine third-down plays in a 13-3 win at Baton Rouge. Jeff Demps rushed for 86 yards and Emmanuel Moody added 42 on just six carries. Tim Tebow added 38 rushing yards (17 carries) and 134 passing yards on 11-of-16 accuracy. Florida's wideouts continue to struggle. Tight end Aaron Hernandez (6 catches, 70 yards) was the top pass-catcher Saturday night. Still, the Gators have won 15 games in a row.

3. SOUTH CAROLINA (7.5): The Gamecocks (5-1, 2-1) continue to see growth from quarterback Stephen Garcia, who completed 16 of 23 passes for 233 yards and three TDs in a 28-26 defeat of Kentucky. It should be noted that UK was without starting cornerbacks Trevard Lindley and Paul Warford. SC tailback Kenny Miles added 100 rushing yards on just 17 carries.

4. LSU (7.5): The Tigers (5-1, 3-1) showed why they rank dead last among the 12 SEC teams in total offense by mustering just 96 passing yards and 66 rushing yards in a 13-3 loss to Florida. Charles Scott was limited to 53 yards on 13 carries and Brandon LaFell to 44 yards on four receptions. The outing was LSU's first Saturday night home loss in 22 games.

5. ARKANSAS (7.5): The Razorbacks (4-2, 1-2) dumped previously unbeaten teams each of the past two weekends - bouncing Texas A&M 47-19 , then shocking Auburn 44-23. The Hogs are dangerous as long as Ryan Mallett has time to throw, and he had time to throw vs. the Tigers, completing 24 of 37 passes for 274 yards. After gaining just 180 yards in the first five games combined, Hog tailback Michael Smith picked up 145 yards on 18 carries. Bobby Petrino's team came on after a slow start in '08, and it appears that history is repeating.

6. AUBURN (7.5): The Tigers (5-1, 2-1) dug themselves a hole with a horrendous first half and never recovered in a 44-23 loss at Arkansas. Auburn trailed 27-3 at intermission and 34-3 early in the third quarter. The Tigers scored the next 20 points and entered the fourth period down just 34-23 but ran out of gas. Ben Tate rushed 22 times for 184 yards and three touchdowns and Chris Todd completed 15 of 28 passes for 133 yards but Auburn's spread-option kept the ball for just 21:33, compared to Arkansas's 38:27.

7. TENNESSEE (7.5): The Vols (3-3, 1-2) finally discovered their passing attack in a 45-19 blowout of Georgia. Jonathan Crompton completed 20 of 27 passes for a career-high 310 yards and Gerald Jones caught five balls for a career-high 105 yards. Tennessee outgained the Dawgs 472-241 in total yards and limited superstar A.J. Green to 60 receiving yards, barely half of his 105 yards-per-game average.

8. OLE MISS (7.5): The Rebels (3-2, 1-2) got next to nothing out of their heralded QB in Saturday's 22-3 loss to Alabama. Jevan Snead completed just 11 of 34 passes for 140 yards with four interceptions. Moreover, Dexter McCluster managed just 15 rushing yards (on six carries) and 22 receiving yards (on three catches). Ole Miss was 0-for-9 on third down, lost the possession battle by more than 17 minutes and accumulated just 212 yards of total offense.

9. GEORGIA (7.0): Mark Richt's Bulldogs (3-3, 2-2) were dominated, offensively and defensively, by a struggling Tennessee team in a 45-19 loss at Knoxville. Joe Cox completed 19 of 34 passes for 146 yards but tossed two interceptions. The major bright spot for the Dawgs was Brandon Boykin's second 100-yard kickoff return of the season. He previously recorded one vs. South Carolina.

10. MISSISSIPPI STATE (6.5): Dan Mullen's Bulldogs (2-4, 1-2) couldn't contain the passing prowess of Casey Keenum (39 of 52, 434 yards, 4 TDs) in suffering a 31-24 loss to Houston. Anthony Dixon rushed for 134 yards and Charles Mitchell returned an interception 71 yards for an MSU touchdown. Tyson Lee completed 15 of 23 passes for 160 yards but threw a couple of picks.

11. KENTUCKY (6.0): The Big Blue (2-3, 0-3) played No. 25 South Carolina tough in a 28-26 loss, despite losing quarterback Mike Hartline to a third-quarter knee sprain and being without first-team cornerbacks Trevard Lindley and Paul Warford all game. In fact, the Cats were a failed two-point conversion from sending the contest into overtime. Randall Cobb paced UK with 89 rushing yards on 13 carries and 62 receiving yards on two catches.

12. VANDERBILT (5.5): The Commodores (2-3, 0-3) lost in typical Vandy fashion - fumbling the ball away at the 1-yard line on the first possession of overtime, then watching Army's kicker bounce a 42-yard field goal off the left upright and over the crossbar for a 16-13 win. Larry Smith completed just 11 of 24 passes for 144 yards with two interceptions. The Dores doomed themselves with 12 penalties.


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