There are exceptions, of course, but SEC teams tend to win at home and lose on the road. Vandy, currently 2-0 at home and 3-1 on the road, can finish 11-5 merely by winning its remaining home games and losing its remaining road games. Conversely, if Tennessee (3-1 at home, 1-1 on the road) wins its remaining home games and loses its remaining road games, the Vols will finish 8-8. Clearly, the fact UT is only one game behind Vandy in the SEC standings does not reflect how much ground the Vols must make up on the Dores in the weeks to come.
That's why I rely on something I call the Home-Road Factor. Originated during my days at The Knoxville Journal back in the 1980s, the H-RF awards two points for each road win and deducts two points for each home loss. This gives a truer representation of how a team stands in relation to its divisional foes.
Vanderbilt is a perfect example. Although the SEC standings show Vandy and Kentucky tied at 5-1 atop the Eastern Division, the Commodores have played four of their six games on the road, going 3-1. Kentucky has played just three road games, going 2-1. Clearly, Vandy is in better shape because it already has won on a hostile court that UK has yet to visit. The Home-Road Factor reflects this by awarding the Dores six points for three road wins, compared to Kentucky's four points for two road wins.
Vanderbilt leads my Home-Road SEC East standings at plus-6, with Kentucky second at plus-4. Tennessee is well back at zero since its home loss to Vandy neutralized its road win at Alabama.
Although Florida and South Carolina share fourth place in the traditional SEC standings at 4-3, they are tied for third with UT in my Home-Road standings because each has played (and lost) one more road game than the Vols. Thus, a win Thursday night at Baton Rouge would allow Tennessee to separate a bit from the Gators and Gamecocks, in addition to closing the gap a bit on Kentucky and Vanderbilt.
That said, here are the current Home-Road Factor rankings:
Vanderbilt (5-1) ... 2-0 home, 3-1 road ... PLUS-6
Kentucky (5-1) ... 3-0 home, 2-1 road ... PLUS-4
Tennessee (4-2) ... 3-1 home, 1-1 road ... ZERO
Florida (4-3) ... 3-1 home, 1-2 road ... ZERO
S.Carolina (4-3) ... 3-1 home, 1-2 road ... ZERO
Georgia (1-5) ... 1-1 home, 0-4 road ... MINUS-2
Miss. State (4-2) ... 3-0 home, 1-2 road ... PLUS-2
Ole Miss (4-3) ... 1-2 home, 3-1 road ... PLUS-2
Arkansas (3-3) ... 2-1 home, 1-2 road ... ZERO
Alabama (3-4) ... 2-2 home, 1-2 road ... MINUS-2
Auburn (2-5) ... 1-3 home, 1-2 road ... MINUS-4
Louisiana St (0-7) ... 0-3 home, 0-4 road ... MINUS-6