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SEC Power Rankings: Week 3

More data points leads to more confusion

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Turns out you might need more than one game before making a sound judgement on a football team. Weird right?

Week 2 of the SEC schedule is in the books and it’s time to readjust some expectations and feelings for a number of teams. The top tier appears to be taking shape with Alabama, Georgia and Florida leading the way. The bottom is settling in nicely with Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Missouri all doing what they do best. Tennessee is floating in no man’s land though we will know where to place them this time next week. Then’s it’s a smorgasbord of teams who could all beat each other any day of the week.

Let’s take a look at the state of things as we enter week 3 of this bizarre 2020 SEC football season.

#1.) Alabama 2-0 (—)

SP+: 2 | FPI: 2

Last Game: 52-24 W vs Texas A&M

For just a moment there it looked like the Aggies might make the Tide sweat a bit. Then Kellen Mond did what Kellen Mond does best and Alabama buried the Aggies once again.

Per usual, this is a scary looking Alabama team with an elite offensive line, a capable QB, too many talented weapons and what might be an improved defense. This weekend we will get some answers on that defense as they take on one of the top offenses in the SEC and a former assistant who I am sure is going to have a lot of fun poking the bear this week.

Next Game: @ Ole Miss

#2.) Georgia 2-0 (—)

SP+: 4 | FPI: 4

Last Game: 27-6 W vs Auburn

Remember that one week where we thought that maybe UGA might not be good this year? That was fun right?

Georgia silenced many haters, myself included, over the weekend by lining up and bullying the Auburn Tigers. The Dawgs didn’t run anything tricky, they just trusted that rebuilt offensive line to establish a new line of scrimmage and their elite defense to suffocate the Tigers struggling offense. Both occurred and the final result doesn’t really indicate how lopsided an affair this matchup really ended up being.

Now they host another hated rival who feels they have a shot at making a statement this weekend. The Vols likely have an offensive line capable of giving their offense a chance at making some plays but I am not sure they’ve got the quarterback to get it done. We’ll see soon. I think this game will be much more competitive than the trash we saw Saturday night.

Next Game: vs Tennessee

#3.) Florida 2-0 (—)

SP+: 8 | FPI: 8

Last Game: 38-24 W vs Florida

Kyle Trask continues to put up silly numbers this year and will look to build some more Heisman hype this weekend against a reeling Aggies team. The Gators appear to have the offensive firepower to go toe to toe with anyone in the SEC. Questions linger though about this defense and its ability to get crucial stops when facing better teams. I am not sure if we get that answer or not this weekend but this should be an interesting matchup.

Next Game: @ Texas A&M

#4.) Tennessee 2-0 (+2)

SP+: 22 | FPI: 27

Last Game: 35-12 W vs Missouri

The Vols continue their climb up the rankings after quickly dismantling a likely not very good Missouri squad over the weekend. They did so mostly thanks to stout defense and a solid run game. I don’t know yet where this Tennessee team stands in the SEC but they’ve earned the right to be the top challenger to tier 1. They can legitimize that claim in Athens this weekend if they can take down the Dawgs. Jeremy Pruitt has done the exact opposite of Malzahn by building strength along BOTH lines of scrimmages. They might still be a quarterback away from truly contending but they at least have a puncher’s chance to get it done on Saturday.

Next Game: @ Georgia

#5.) Auburn 1-1 (-1)

SP+: 15 | FPI: 11

Last Game 6-27 L @ Georgia

Given that pathetic display on Saturday, I really wanted to drop the Tigers a good bit in the rankings but I couldn’t. Why? Because after you get past those first four teams, there’s a whole lot of average. Right now, the fancy algorithms appear to think Auburn is the best of that bunch.

It’s also important to remind ourselves the Tigers got whooped by a top 5 football team. Those things happen sometimes, unfortunately for Auburn fans, they tend to happen a lot in Athens.

But the Tigers don’t really get a chance to lick their wounds. A hungry Arkansas program that finally got their first SEC win in forever comes to town ready to exact revenge on two of their most hated former coaches. You better believe the Tigers will be getting their best shot.

Next Game: vs Arkansas

#6.) Texas A&M 1-1 (+1)

SP+: 19 | FPI: 19

Last Game: 24-52 L @ Alabama

So after getting blown out by the Tide this past Saturday, A&M (checks notes), uh, moves up a spot?

You see we have reached what I like to call the clusterf*** portion of the power rankings where a bunch of 1-1 teams sit with a variety of warts. I give the Aggies the nod this week only because they have played the toughest team on the schedule and I suspect quite a few other teams will have similar results against the Tide.

This will likely be temporary though with the Gators coming to town, so enjoy it while it lasts Aggie fans.

Next Game: vs Florida

#7.) Mississippi State 1-1 (-2)

SP+: 47 | FPI: 48

Last Game: 14-21 L vs Arkansas

Maybe I apologized a little too soon to State fans...

We all joked about it after the Bulldogs stunning dismantling of LSU. “It would be very Mike Leach to turn around and lose to a team that hasn’t won an SEC game in two years,” we all chuckled.

Well, only Hog fans are chuckling now and that’s a frightening thought.

The Mississippi State bandwagon is now aflame and the questions many of us had about them pre-season return. Mostly, can this offense seriously have success week in and week out in the SEC?

K.J. Costello has a frightening habit of giving the ball to the other team and an injured Kylin Hill seemed to kill the engine of this offense. They hit the road this weekend to take on a struggling Kentucky program who will do their best to play keep away. This will likely be the funniest box score of the 2020 football season

Next Game: @ Kentucky

#8.) LSU 1-1 (+1)

SP+: 20 | FPI: 13

Last Game: 41-7 W @ Vanderbilt

LSU’s climb back to the top has begun. The Tigers took care of a bad Vanderbilt team over the weekend and seemed much more settled on the defensive side of the ball with Derek Stingley Jr. back in the lineup. They looked better than the Aggies did against the Dores and the algorithms all still see this team as top 20 quality but I am going to make Ed O earn every rankings bump in penance for what was allowed two weekends ago in Death Valley.

Next Game: vs Missouri

#9.) Ole Miss 1-1 (+1)

SP+: 45 | FPI: 39

Last Game: 42-41 OT W @ Kentucky

Lane Kiffin’s Rebels are required weekly viewing as they tend to play in the most entertaining games. After losing a wild one in Gainesville, the Rebels won an even wilder one in Lexington taking down the Wildcats in overtime thanks to a missed field goal by Kentucky’s kicker.

Matt Corral has looked dangerous in this Kiffin offense and it’s clear they can put points on just about anybody. It’s also clear that defense is something this program is still very much allergic to and will ruin some chances for big time wins. Kiffin welcomes his former boss this week and I am very interested to see what this Ole Miss offense can do against a loaded Tide front. I don’t expect a Rebel victory but I wouldn’t be shocked if this game is closer than expected headed into the 4th.

Next Game: vs Alabama

#10.) Arkansas 1-1 (+4)

SP+: 68 | FPI: 59

Last Game: 21-14 W @ Mississippi State

For the first time since October 28, 2017, the Arkansas Razorbacks won an SEC football game. Not only did they end a 20 game in conference losing streak, they did it against the media darling of the prior week in Mike Leach’s Bulldogs.

Barry Odom did everything Bo Pelini didn’t and the Hogs offense were able to capitalize enough to escape with the win. They’ll take this confidence boost into Jordan-Hare Saturday hoping to embarrass their former head coach who could not accomplish in two seasons what Pittman has done in 2 games.

Next Game: @ Auburn

#11.) Kentucky 0-2 (-3)

SP+: 42 | FPI: 34

Last Game: 13-29 L @ Auburn

So uh... Is Kentucky actually bad again?

The preseason SEC East darkhorse is off to a terrible start dropping two heartbreakers to SEC West foes. For the 2nd straight weekend, Kentucky successfully drove the ball to the 1 inch line only to give it to the other team. They then went full Kentucky in overtime by missing a point after attempt. Needless to say, the ‘Cats are in need of something good happening fast.

Maybe that’s this weekend? Two completely opposite styles clash as Mike Leach’s Air Raid attack invades Kroger Field to take on Mike Stoops’s keep-away, ground & pound system. One team might not throw for more than 125 yards. The other might not rush for 20. For pure entertainment purposes this is a must watch contest Saturday.

Next Game: vs Mississippi State

#12.) South Carolina 0-1 (—)

SP+: 44 | FPI: 46

Last Game: 24-38 L @ Florida

Don’t really know what to think about this Gamecock team. They show flashes of being competent and they sure has hell fight hard till the bitter end but it’s clear they are a step below talent wise across the board right now in the SEC.

Will Muschamp is staring a 2 win season in the face right now if he can’t find some way to get either much better at scoring points or much better at preventing points from being scored. Right now, there isn’t one thing this Gamecock team does well enough that you can point to that as a reason for them to win any given Saturday. This weekend is crucial if they have any hope of getting off the mat in 2020.

Next Game: @ Vanderbilt

#13.) Missouri 0-2 (-1)

SP+: 48 | FPI: 63

Last Game: 12-35 L @ Tennessee

I didn’t really know what to expect from this Missouri team this fall. It turns out I should of expected very bad football...

The Tigers for the 2nd straight week were outclassed across the board by a superior opponent. That trend won’t change this weekend with a trip to Death Valley against an LSU team hungry to rebuild its image.

In terms of worst schedules to start the season, it’s hard to argue that Mizzou got the rawest of deals. Alabama, Tennessee & LSU is not exactly the smoothest way to break in a new head coach.

Next Game: @ LSU

#14.) Vanderbilt 0-2 (—)

SP+: 115 | FPI: 92

Last Game: 7-41 L vs LSU

Well I hope you enjoyed that week at #13 Dores because I doubt you ever return this season...

After putting up a valiant effort against the Aggies in Kyle Fied, Vanderbilt got smacked around by a pissed off LSU football team in Nashville this past Saturday. Luckily, they get one of their two best shots at winning a game this season with the Gamecocks coming to town. Arkansas got off the schnide last week, is it the Commodores turn this week?

Next Game: vs South Carolina

War Eagle!