SEC Ratings

Four weeks after I moved Alabama ahead of Florida in my SEC Ratings, voters in the Associated Press poll have seen the light and given the Tide the No. 1 ranking previously accorded to the Gators.

We won't know for sure which team is better until they meet in the SEC Championship Game Dec. 5 in Atlanta but last weekend's performances suggest Bama is playing the better football these days. Nick Saban's Tiders shut down a pretty solid South Carolina squad 20-6, while Urban Meyer's swamp swine needed some favorable officiating calls in the final minute to subdue Arkansas 23-20.

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

1. ALABAMA (9.5): The Tide (7-0, 4-0) got another shaky performance from quarterback Greg McElroy (10 of 20, 92 yards, 2 interceptions) but rode a 246-yard rushing effort from Mark Ingram to a 20-6 defeat of South Carolina. Bama sacked Stephen Garcia five times and held its opponent without a touchdown for the second week in a row.

2. FLORIDA (9.5): The Gators (6-0 overall, 4-0 SEC) appeared on the verge of a colossal upset until Arkansas's Alex Tejada missed a 38-yard field goal with 3:08 left, then UF's Caleb Sturgis nailed a 27-yarder with nine seconds remaining for a 23-30 victory. Tim Tebow completed 17 of 26 passes for 255 yards but was sacked six times. He also rushed 27 times for 69 yards. Florida allowed the Hogs to stay close by losing four fumbles.

3. LSU (7.5): The Tigers (5-1, 3-1) were idle.

4. SOUTH CAROLINA (7.5): The Gamecocks (5-2, 2-2) mustered very little offense in a 20-6 loss at Alabama. Stephen Garcia completed just 20 of 46 passes for 214 yards and had an interception returned 77 yards for the game's first touchdown. Worse, SC managed a meager 64 rushing yards on 27 attempts.

5. ARKANSAS (7.5): The Razorbacks (4-3, 1-3) had top-ranked Florida on the ropes before losing 23-20. Ryan Mallett completed just 12 of 27 passes but netted 224 yards, nearly 19 yards per connection. Greg Childs reeled in four of the passes for 135 yards, including a 75-yard TD grab. Dennis Johnson, subbing for injured tailback Michael Smith, rushed for 107 yards on a mere 14 carries. The Hogs sustained 10 penalties, with three crucial ones coming on Florida's march to the game-winning field goal.

6. TENNESSEE (7.5): The Vols (3-3, 1-2) were idle.

7. AUBURN (7.5): The Tigers (5-2, 2-2) saw quarterback Chris Todd struggle for the second week in a row and lost for the second week in a row, dropping a 21-14 home-field stunner to Kentucky. Todd completed just 10 of 24 passes for 80 yards and directed only one scoring drive; Auburn's other TD came on Neiko Thorpe's 39-yard return of a blocked field goal. Ben Tate was a bright spot, rushing for 132 yards on 31 carries.

8. OLE MISS (7.5): The Rebels (4-2, 1-2) continued their trend of drubbing non-conference opponents by waxing UAB 48-13. Jevan Snead completed 15 of 22 passes for 240 yards and three touchdowns. Shay Hodge caught seven balls for 99 yards and freshman Jesse Grandy had an 88-yard TD return of the opening kickoff.

9. GEORGIA (7.5): Mark Richt's Bulldogs (4-3, 3-2) took advantage of Vanderbilt's offensive futility to trounce the Commodores 34-10. Joe Cox completed 16 of 31 passes for 226 yards, thanks largely to a three-catch, 95-yard effort from ace receiver A.J. Green. The Dawgs led just 17-10 in the third quarter before scoring 17 unanswered points.

10. MISSISSIPPI STATE (6.5): Dan Mullen's Bulldogs (3-4, 1-2) got a 135-yard rushing effort from Anthony Dixon - giving him a school record 3,299 career yards - in a 27-6 victory at Middle Tennessee. MSU kept the ball 37:51 to 22:09, forced four turnovers and limited the Blue Raiders to just 42 rushing yards. Tyson Lee completed 14 of 20 passes for 155 yards and scored on a 39-yard run.

11. KENTUCKY (6.5): The Big Blue (3-3, 1-3) revived their flagging bowl hopes by shocking homestanding Auburn 21-14. The Wildcats scored two touchdowns in the final seven minutes in the come-from-behind win. With QB Mike Hartline sidelined, Morgan Newton completed just 5 of 13 passes for 39 yards and Will Fidler 4 of 9 for 36 yards. Derrick Locke (126 yards on 19 carries) and Randall Cobb (109 yards on 12 rushes) picked up the slack, however.

12. VANDERBILT (5.5): The Commodores (2-5, 0-4) may be changing quarterbacks after their 34-10 loss to visiting Georgia. Mackenzi Adams completed 6 of 8 passes for 53 yards after replacing ineffective starter Larry Smith (11 of 26, 121 yards). Vandy converted on just 3 of 15 third-down tries in losing for the fifth time in its last six games.


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