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SEC Power Rankings: Week 4

Defense is optional this year

NCAA Football: Florida at Texas A&M Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

After only three weeks of SEC play only two teams remain undefeated. That number is assured to drop to one this time next week. Only one team has been unfortunate enough to lose every game so far this season. Everyone else seems capable of beating or losing to anyone else any day of the week.

It’s chaos and ya’ll know deep down you love it.

It was a wild weekend featuring numerous upsets and some close calls. Attempting to figure out who exactly should be ranked over whom is getting a little ridiculous at this point but I did my best. Let’s take a look at where things stand heading into Week 4.

#1.) Alabama 3-0 (—)

SP+: 3 | FPI: 3

Last Game: 63-48 W @ Ole Miss

Despite two dominant performances to start the season, there were some cracks showing on this Alabama defense. Lane Kiffin took a sledgehammer to it on Saturday night to reveal that everything is not suddenly better on that side of the ball for the Crimson Tide. Granted, Alabama’s excuse is that Kiffin knows their signals since it’s impossible for the opponent to actually just play well against them.

But it didn’t matter. Mac Jones continues to show why Tua was not a “generational QB”. He was just a good QB in a system that does an excellent job getting its insane amount of playmakers the ball in space.

This weekend though is the big one. Can this offense continue to dominate against the best defense in America? Can this defense slow down UGA’s resurgent run game? I am fascinated to find out.

Next Game: vs Georgia

#2.) Georgia 3-0 (—)

SP+: 4 | FPI: 4

Last Game: 44-21 W vs Tennessee

For the 2nd time this season, UGA went into halftime trailing. For the 2nd time this season, it didn’t matter.

The Dawgs took control of the game in the 2nd half rattling off 27 unanswered points. The Dawgs run game still isn’t dominant but it’s effective. Kearis Jackson is emerging as a big time playmaker in the slot while Stetson Bennett continues to avoid making the big mistakes.

It gets real this weekend with a trip to Tuscaloosa. To be honest, I actually think the Dawgs have been the best team in the SEC through the first 3 weeks and have a great chance at winning this weekend. Can Kirby Smart get over that mental hurdle and take down his former mentor?

Next Game: @ Alabama

#3.) Texas A&M 2-1 (+3)

SP+: 22 | FPI: 24

Last Game: 41-38 W vs Florida

We were all ready to bury Texas A&M early in the third quarter when they fell behind 28-17. But credit this Jimbo Fisher team. They rallied and pulled out a must win and gave Jimbo his first big win as the head coach of the Aggies.

Kellen Mond had that game he has every year where it looks like maybe he’s actually turned the corner and is ready to be an elite QB. He threw for over 300 yards and 3 scores while completing 25 passes on 35 attempts. Isaiah Spiller though was the difference late just gashing a beat down Gator defense again and again.

Despite struggling to beat a bad Vanderbilt team week 1 and getting walloped by Bama week 2, A&M is now in position to cement themselves as the #2 team in the West and a potential CFB darkhorse.

Strange times.

Next Game: @ Mississippi State

#4.) Florida 2-1 (-1)

SP+: 8 | FPI: 9

Last Game: 38-41 L @ Texas A&M

The margin of error is now incredibly slim for the Gators if they wish to finally knock UGA off their SEC East perch. It looked like they had taken control of the game early in the 3rd quarter but poor defense and a brutal late fumble resulted in a frustrating upset.

This offense though is still scary and if the defense can just get slightly better they are still a force to be reckoned with in the East. They MUST win this weekend against a falling apart LSU squad.

Next Game: vs LSU

#5.) Tennessee 2-1 (-1)

SP+: 24 | FPI: 23

Last Game: 21-44 L @ Georgia

For two quarters it looked like Jeremy Pruitt’s Volunteers belonged with the Dawgs. Unfortunately for the men in orange, football is a four quarter game...

The Vols lost their chance to prove they are ready to be an SEC East contender but are still in position to make some noise this season. They play host to Kentucky this weekend, a program they have only lost to twice since 1984. With Alabama, Texas A&M, Auburn and Florida still on the schedule, the Vols have plenty of opportunities remaining to put together a big season.

Next Game: vs Kentucky

#6.) Auburn 2-1 (-1)

SP+: 14 | FPI: 13

Last Game 30-28 W vs Arkansas

Auburn rediscovered its run game this past Saturday but failed to consistently do anything through the air and defensively were exposed much of the 2nd half. Bo Nix escaped a catastrophic mistake thanks to an official being so surprised at such a dumb play he blew his whistle early. This team is littered with injuries especially on the defensive side of the ball and continue to struggle to put points on the board.

And yet...

The Tigers are 2-1 with a legitimate chance to beat everyone on their schedule not named Alabama. They likely won’t but it’s a testament to the averageness of the SEC that the Tigers will be the favorite in at least all but two games left on their schedule. If Bo Nix can find any sort of consistency and this defense can get somewhat healthy, they could be a problem later this year. But this weekend is a must win for Gus Malzahn if he hopes to have any shot at challenging for the SEC West crown.

Next Game: @ South Carolina

#7.) Ole Miss 1-2 (+2)

SP+: 44 | FPI: 51

Last Game: 48-63 L vs Alabama

I was wrong on a lot of things this preseason but one team I absolutely nailed was Ole Miss. Lane Kiffin inherited an offense loaded with playmakers and he’s getting the most out of them every night. He also inherited a defense that legitimately might be the worst in the country.

He took the Tide the distance Saturday night in one of the most entertaining games of the year. Now he must travel to take on a pissed off Arkansas team that is proving they aren’t the pushovers of years past.

Next Game: @ Arkansas

#8.) Kentucky 1-2 (+3)

SP+: 33 | FPI: 38

Last Game: 24-2 W vs Mississippi State

I thought the UK-MSST game would have the oddest of box scores this past weekend and man was I right. Just look at this majestic piece of art.

The `Cats dominated a game in which they only had 157 yards of offense including 2.6 yards per carry. That happens when the other team throws 6 interceptions. Though per UK fan logic Mississippi State was clearly the better team...

Next Game: @ Tennessee

#9.) Missouri 1-2 (+4)

SP+: 60 | FPI: 47

Last Game: 45-41 W vs LSU

Ok I didn’t see this one coming...

Elijah Drinkwitz got his first win as head coach of Missouri by beating the defending champs on a 1 yard goal line stand. It was an incredible offensive performance as the Tigers picked apart Pelini’s defense all day long. I still don’t think this is a great team but they deserve the bump after a big time win

Next Game: vs Vanderbilt

#10.) Arkansas 1-2 (—)

SP+: 72 | FPI: 46

Last Game: 28-30 L @ Auburn

As if Arkansas fans needed anymore reasons to hate Auburn...

After falling behind 17-0, Arkansas outscored the Tigers 28-13 the rest of the way. Unfortunately for them, that was not enough to make up for the slow start and now Gus Malzahn is 6-1 against his alma mater.

It’s clear Sam Pittman is getting the most out of this team and I think it’s likely they get at least one more W before this season is over. Let’s see if Barry Odom’s defense can slow the Lane Train down.

Next Game: vs Ole Miss

#11.) South Carolina 1-2 (+1)

SP+: 42 | FPI: 32

Last Game: 41-7 W vs Vanderbilt

After some valiant but unsuccessful efforts to start the season, Will Muschamp’s Gamecocks took it to a bad Vanderbilt team in Nashville over the weekend. Kevin Harris averaged 8 yards a carry and scored two touchdowns. They get a vulnerable Auburn team this weekend inside Williams-Brice Stadium. Which boom will be the loudest this weekend?

Next Game: vs Auburn

#12.) Mississippi State 1-2 (-5)

SP+: 54 | FPI: 57

Last Game: 2-24 L @ Kentucky

Ok so it turns out I wasn’t wrong about Mississippi State. This is a bad team who was fortunate enough to draw a REALLY bad LSU defense week 1. K.J. Costello is a walking turnover and Mike Leach is already blaming everything on his players. Things are totally gonna go great in Starkville this year.

Next Game: vs Texas A&M

#13.) LSU 1-2 (-5)

SP+: 18 | FPI: 16

Last Game: 41-45 @ Missouri

I thought LSU would take a major step back this season. I did not expect that step to be “2nd worst team in the SEC” back but here we are.

Turns out that Bo Pelini is in fact NOT better than Dave Aranda. The LSU defense is a sieve and seemingly incapable of making any sort of in game adjustments. With all that said though it still wouldn’t shock me if they upset Dan Mullen this weekend....

Next Game: @ Florida

#14.) Vanderbilt 0-3 (—)

SP+: 117 | FPI: 112

Last Game: 7-41 L vs South Carolina

Every team that has beaten Vanderbilt this season has immediately lost the following game. Here’s to hoping that trend continues.

Next Game: @ Missouri

War Eagle!