Week 2 SEC Power Rankings
Ranking the SEC Teams after Week 1
The opening week of SEC football is in the record books as the teams in the nation's premier conference went a collective 10-4, with one of those losses coming against a fellow SEC team. Two of the losses were to teams ranked No. 13 and 8 respectively in the nation, with the last loss coming in the debut of one of the four new head coaches hired in the offseason.
The biggest surprise after one week may be Bret Bielema's Arkansas team, which was on upset alert by many against a strong Louisiana-Lafayette team coming off a nine-win season and a bowl win. However, Bielema’s brand of football didn’t need a grace period to take hold in Fayetteville and has many — including myself — thinking how good this Razorbacks team can be in 2013.
If the Hogs were the biggest surprise, then Ole Miss certainly had to be no. 2 with their heart-stopping dramatic victory over Vanderbilt in Nashville. The Rebels were expected to make a significant improvement in year two under Hugh Freeze, but it was a big question how the freshmen would respond to the pressure of the SEC. If one game is any indication, it’s that the freshmen may be craving the limelight and pressure that accompanies heightened expectations.
Read on to see where the teams rank in comparison to each other, how the new coaches fared in their debuts and who can knock off the powerhouse programs at the top. I’ll have an updated SEC power ranking every Sunday, so be sure to keep tabs as the season progresses.
14. Kentucky Wildcats
It was a tough debut for Mark Stoops at Kentucky as the Wildcats lost to Western Kentucky 35-26. The 'Cats may have a quarterback controversy on their hands after Jalen Whitlow struggled and was replaced by Maxwell Smith.
13. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Mississippi State looked surprisingly well on defense for the first 27 minutes vs. Oklahoma State, but then a long run by J.W. Walsh led to a touchdown and the wheels fell off for the Bulldogs. LaDarius Perkins was the lone bright spot on offense as he gained more than 100 yards, but Tyler Russell struggled and was injured as Dan Mullen's club fell 21-3.
12. Missouri Tigers
Missouri got off to a slow start vs. Murray State, but poured it on late with a strong rushing attack to win 58-14. Henry Josey and Russell Hansbrough each ran for more than 100 yards, and James Franklin threw for 318 and three touchdowns
11. Vanderbilt Commodores
Vanderbilt was outscored 29-14 in the second half and gave up 39 to a young Ole Miss team who routinely exploited the Commodores defense after half. Any questions about their quarterback should be put to rest as Austyn Carta-Samuels looked good throwing to Jordan Matthews.
10. Auburn Tigers
Auburn wins in Gus Malzahn's Tigers debut as head coach and surprisingly did so with 295 rushing yards led by Cody Grant's 146. Nick Marshall struggled in his first game, but looked more comfortable in the second half and should get better with more experience.
9. Tennessee Volunteers
Tennessee wasn't even tested in Butch Jones' first game with the Vols, but no matter the opponent, anytime you win 45-0, you're doing something right. Rajion Neal ran for 141 yards behind the SEC's best offensive line, and Justin Worley didn't make many mistakes at quarterback. The schedule gets tougher from here and they will be tested this week vs. Western Kentucky.
8. Arkansas Razorbacks
Arkansas was easily one the most impressive teams in the nation this week and one of the top one or two in the SEC. Bret Bielema is wasting zero time instilling his brand of football with the Razorbacks, and it was evident vs. Louisiana-Lafayette. Brandon Allen made plays at quarterback and didn't make any mistakes, and Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins ran behind a physical and disciplined offensive line for a combined 282 yards. They'll be bowling this winter.
7. Ole Miss Rebels
If Arkansas wasn't the most impressive team in the SEC this week, then it was Ole Miss, who went into Nashville and picked up a big road win over Vanderbilt in dramatic fashion. Bo Wallace looked like a new man after halftime, and commanded the Rebels to 29 second-half points, distributing the ball to freshman Laquon Treadwell and Jeff Scott, who won it late with a 75-yard run. Hugh Freeze has a young team in areas and injuries will test the depth of the team -- they are already down two starters -- but you gotta love where this team is heading if you're a Rebels fan.
6. Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia was a clean snap on a field goal attempt away from a potential overtime game against Clemson, but ultimately ran out of time vs. the home team as they lost by three. Injuries to Malcolm Mitchell and Todd Gurley for a long stretch could have been the difference in pulling off the pivotal road win. Georgia will have an opportunity to get a big win over South Carolina next week in what is absolutely a must-win.
5. Florida Gators
Florida isn't going to win many pretty games this season, but as long as they win, Gators fans won't find much to complain about. They were a thin team in the opening win vs. Toledo, but will need all hands on deck for the contest against Miami on Saturday. A healthy Matt Jones and the return of Loucheiz Purifoy from suspension certainly would go a long way toward a win over the in-state rival.
4. Texas A&M
Texas A&M will score a ton on offense, but this Aggies defense is going to give up points in bunches too, as shown by giving up 31 to Rice. Johnny Manziel played sparingly as a result of his suspension, and took a stupid unsportsmanlike penalty which further illustrated his immaturity and lack of discipline; but as long as he's on the field, the Aggies will be in every game. However, as it currently stands, that defense will keep them out of the conference race.
LSU is the only team in the conference with a win over a ranked opponent after they trounced No. 20 TCU without their leading rusher, Jeremy Hill, who was withheld from the game for disciplinary reasons stemming from his offseason arrest. The Tigers offense looked strong under the guidance of Cam Cameron, and the defense held the Horned Frogs to 259 total yards.
2. South Carolina Gamecocks
Say what you will about Jadaveon Clowney's conditioning levels, but South Carolina is a nasty team boasting a lethal defense and a sneaky offense with Connor Shaw having a number of weapons to throw to, and Mike Davis having a massive offensive line to run behind. Not to mention, they have one of the game's top three or four coaches in Steve Spurrier. A win over Georgia will put considerable distance between them and the third team on the list next week.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama won by 25 and held Virginia Tech to 10 points and only gave up 59 passing yards on five completions, and it was a disappointing performance. That's the level of expectations for this potentially historic team. A.J. McCarron didn't light it up. T.J. Yeldon looked solid, but not spectacular. Amari Cooper looked human. The Crimson Tide offensive and defensive lines looked vulnerable in comparison to their standards, but they dominated and it was never close. Christion Jones scored punt, kickoff and receiving touchdowns and undoubtedly was the player of the game. Surprise performances like this are what makes Alabama, Alabama.