An interesting weekend in the Southeastern Conference’s Western Division revealed what we already figured was true: that division is far and away the best thing going in college football. That dominance is revealed in my Week 5 SEC power rankings.
1. Alabama (4-0): Crimson Tide (plus-336) is one of just two FBS teams with a plus-300-or-higher edge per game in total yardage. If you had questions about that Alabama offense, consider that the ‘Tide’s 645 yards is the most Florida’s ever given up.
2. Auburn (3-0): Was Auburn’s pedestrian offensive performance vs. Kansas State enough to raise concerns that someone’s figured out a way to stop that powerful ground attack? I think you have to allow that as a possibility (even if a slight one), but if Auburn’s defense is as improved as it looked last week, perhaps it won’t matter.
3. Texas A&M (4-0): It’s hard to draw any more conclusions about the Aggies since that dominating opening-night performance vs. South Carolina, since few teams have played three worse opponents since. But don’t worry, there’s only one more pass-out (Louisiana-Monroe, Nov. 1) remaining on the schedule.
4. Georgia (3-1): A 66-0 win over a Troy team that’s perhaps one of the five worst squads in the FBS proved nothing, but I think the Bulldogs are still a better team that the nation’s giving them credit for being.
5. Ole Miss (3-0): The Rebels have quietly out-scored opponents by an average of 33.7 and out-gained them by 224 yards per game against what (relative to the other patsies the rest of the world has played this point) is a decent schedule.
6. Mississippi St. (4-0): Now that the Bulldogs pulled the road upset in what might have been the second-toughest game on the schedule (LSU), it’s time to start talking about MSU as a legitimate SEC West contender; remember, MSU’s two Eastern Division foes are Kentucky and Vandy.
7. LSU (3-1): With a home loss already and quarterback Anthony Jennings ranking 13th in the league in passing efficiency, a Western Division title for the Tigers now looks like a long shot.
8. South Carolina (3-1): Give the Gamecocks credit for three nice wins in a row, but a defense that’s giving up 480 yards a game should snuff any dreams of Carolina being elite this year.
9. Missouri (3-1): It’s probably an anomaly, but if you believe in the comparative opponent game isn’t kind to Mizzou this week after the Tigers just lost at home to Indiana by four. The Week before, Indiana lost by a field goal at Bowling Green, which was summarily smacked 68-17 by Wisconsin on Saturday.
10. Arkansas (3-1): If you like points and contrasts in offensive styles, you won’t want to miss the ground-oriented Razorbacks facing the A&M arial attack in a matchup of the second- and third-ranked scoring offenses nationally this weekend.
11. Tennessee (2-1): The Vols enjoyed an off-week last weekend, but there will be no vacation in trying to stop Georgia’s Todd Gurley and company on the ground in Athens this weekend.
12. Florida (2-1): With a loss under his belt, and almost another, coach Will Muschamp should probably start finding a realtor with road games at Alabama, Tennessee and Florida State remaining, not to mention home tilts with LSU, Missouri and South Carolina.
13. Kentucky (2-1): Here’s a stat you don’t see often: the Wildcats, losers of 17-straight conference games, are 17-point home favorites vs. Vandy on Saturday.
14. Vanderbilt (1-2): The Commodore program should be past the point of moral victories, but it was hard for VU fans not to be at least a little encouraged after the offense and special teams combined to put up 34 points vs. South Carolina. The bad news is that Vandy’s young secondary continues to get shredded at a rate that’s making it difficult for the ‘Dores to beat anyone.