Fresh off a 32-point win at Tennessee, Auburn continues its steady climb up my rankings and into the Southeastern Conference’s No. 3 spot this week. Here’s more on the Tigers, and everyone else in the league, as mid-November arrives.
1. Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC): Crimson Tide’s multi-faceted running game helps Alabama to an easy 21-point win over LSU. The scary thing is, ‘Bama seems to get better every week.
2. Missouri (9-1, 5-1): The Tigers, still playing without star quarterback James Franklin, just keep rolling. Two key reasons: the conference’s most productive defensive line, and a plus-14 turnover margin that leads the league by a mile.
3. Auburn (9-1, 5-1): It took me a while to come around on Auburn, but the Tigers’ consistent every week and their ability to come out and just pound opponents on the ground each week has made me a believer.
4. LSU (7-3, 3-3): Yes, the Tigers lost by 21 to LSU, and yes, they’re ahead of two 2-loss teams. But: a) that’s closer than anyone besides Texas A&M has come, and; b) they’re still the only team to beat Auburn.
5. South Carolina (7-2, 5-2): After handing Missouri its only defeat, Gamecocks keep rolling with an 18-point win vs. Mississippi State before last weekend’s bye.
6. Texas A&M (8-2, 4-2): You could argue LSU, Carolina and A&M in any order and I couldn’t disagree much. The Aggies have a higher scoring margin than the other two, but I continue to put A&M behind them for its defense, which didn’t show up once again against Mississippi State. The Aggies’ schedule has been softer, too.
7. Ole Miss (6-3, 3-3): Rebels continue to be quietly ignored despite a Top 25 resume. An easy win over Troy is on the horizon, and that’ll probably vault Ole Miss into the polls just before a showdown with Missouri the following weekend will determine whether it stays there or not.
8. Georgia (6-3, 4-2): Take your pick between the Rebels and Georgia — I trust Hugh Freeze more than Mark Richt, and that’s how I split the difference. Georgia, finally getting healthier, has a great reminder to remind fans how good the season could have been if they can beat Auburn on Saturday.
9. Vanderbilt (5-4, 2-4): Commodores aren’t much moving the ball these days, but have shown an uncanny ability to force turnovers and cash them in with recent upsets of Georgia and Florida.
10. Florida (4-5, 3-3): Injuries have just killed UF, and now that quarterback Tyler Murphy has been exposed as a guy who can’t beat you downfield with his arm, a .500 overall record may now be a pipe dream.
11. Tennessee (4-6, 1-4): It’s tempting to drop the Vols lower after the thrashings of the past few weeks, and the stat sheet — minus-7.1 points and 75 yards a game — isn’t kind. But the Vols’ schedule has been brutal and they still get credit for that upset of South Carolina.
12. Mississippi State (4-5, 1-4): Bulldogs are decent statistically — a average edge of 85 yards a game — but just fail time and time again when it counts. That, more than anything, is why MSU fans are unhappy with coach Dan Mullen.
13. Arkansas (3-7, 0-6): The Razorbacks have now dropped seven in a row after the defense couldn’t stop Ole Miss’s Bo Wallace in a 34-24 loss last week.
14. Kentucky (2-7, 0-5): Another week, another reality check for UK and how far it has to go to compete in the SEC. This time, it was a 31-point home loss to Missouri.