TL;DR: Week 5 Official Power Rankings Ballot
While others see only chaos and confusion, we aren't afraid to peer into the formless void and give shape to what we see there.1 And for those of y'all who
can't won't read the rest of this fine article (thanks for visiting, Alligator Army bros!), we present an abridged version:
- Ole Miss
Weekend Results Recap, For People Who Didn't Watch the Games
Well, it's clear that the coaching in the SEC remains as upper echelon as ever. Of course Nick Saban, Les Miles, and Steve Spurrier2 all have national championship rings, but what's been really impressive through five weeks are the coaches at the other end of the scale: much maligned Dan Mullen has done some of the best coaching of his career, Mark Stoops has already won more games with Kentucky this year than last, and Head Hog BERT has transformed Arkansas into Wisconsin South more effectively than any of us would have believed. This coaching improvement has been born out with the wild and unpredictable results of the season so far, with last week's games more interesting and competitive than usual.
|Week 1 S&P+
|Week 2 S&P+
|Week 3 S&P+
|Week 4 S&P+
|Week 5 S&P+
|Ole Miss 24-3
|New Mexico State
Onto The Most Serene and Sovereign of all SEC Power Rankings
1. Auburn:Gus Malzahn is an evil genius, and his dark arts are trending ever more toward the construction of a playbook of nearly infinite power: a football Necronomicon. Meanwhile, in Eugene, Phil Knight has his best minions working on a secret project titled Case Orange, whereby the entire Nike Headquarters complex is secretly packed up and moved overnight to Auburn, Alabama. By the time the sun dawns, all references to Oregon will be removed from his biography, and Auburn alumnus Phil Knight will be prepared to shower his accumulated lucre on the flashiest and most entertaining brand in college football.
In a previous iteration of this the Most Powerful SEC Power Rankings in all the land, we opined that Auburn just might be the finest team in all the land. We've also wondered aloud, in various other corners of this fine website, whether the team from Norman Oklahoma that Tennessee played earlier this year might also be in the conversation for Finest Team in All the Land. It turns out that both of these teams played a game of football against the Rajin Cajuns of Louisiana Tech. The results against this common opponent from the Conference USA fail to disprove either assertion.
These results seem to square with what one might have assumed about these two teams vis-a-vis one another; namely, that Auburn is a bit more explosive on offense and a bit less imposing on defense than the Sooners. Whether the War Eagles offensive prowess is enough to make up for a merely good defense against the very game upper tier of the SEC West remains to be seen. We'll get some more insight when the Tigers take on the Other Tigers -- or is it vice versa -- this Saturday in Auburn.
2. Alabama: If it's possible for a Saban-coached team to be underrated, this team is underrated. That said, the Crimson Tide have a prime time matchup against Ole Miss to show everyone that hiring Lane Kiffin as an assistant was a savvy reinvention of the Alabama brand and not a sign of the apocalypse. Alabama opened as four point favorites over Dr. Bo and his cadre of assistant morticians, but that line has since moved to Alabama -6, meaning that the general public is bullish on the Crimson Tide and not of the opinion that Oxford, with its endless bow-ties, croakies, and leather boat shoes, makes for the most intimidating environment for football-playing guests. Or perhaps it's a combination of the two.
Either way, an impressive performance -- especially on the offensive end -- against an Ole Miss defense that bears our stamp as being certifiably legit will certainly give your humble Power Rankers even more reason to consider placing Saban and the Tuscaloosa Totalitarians in the coveted top spot of the Most Powerful SEC Power Rankings. Consider, we said. No promises.
3. Ole Miss: Not to devolve into Full Phil Steele and get all self-congratulatory about our ranking prowess, but we've been higher on The Fighting
Ed Orgerons Houston Nutts Hugh Freezes than most of our less powerful SEC ranking counterparts. This has been the case not just in the SEC Power Rankings but also this summer in the SEC Individual Unit Power Rankings. They don't have to win this weekend to justify our rankings. Indeed, we don't think that they are a lock to win this weekend. Alabama, after all, is really quite good at football. But we're not ruling out the possibility that they can win. With a defense as stingy as theirs, and a man with the prescription for the ten-game-losing-streak-fever, you just never know what could happen.
4. Texas A&M: Fell into a world of trouble against Arkansas and yet pulled themselves out at the most opportune time. Should we be more impressed that they escaped or dismayed that a defense full of highly rated recruits looks so terrible?
Now this isn't to say that we aren't impressed by a gaudy offense. We certainly are. And the fact that TAMU is leading the FBS in total yards, and is third in yards per play is really really impressive. But they're only 40th in yards per play allowed and 84th in total yards allowed. In addition to illustrating why total yards is a highly flawed metric, and yards per play is the better option, this also paints a picture of a team that is dangerously reliant on offense and susceptible to 2012 Tennessee Volunteersy outcomes. Now the defense is a far cry from being bad on a Holy Sunseri! level, but they're still playing with fire, and without Manziel The Magician at the controls is likely to fall short against more balanced, but still offensively prolific, outfits.
But we still love that Kenny Hill calls himself Kenny Trill. We can't stress that enough.
5. Georgia:Todd Gurley is good enough to make a middle-aged man, swaddled from head-to-toe in official Georgia red-and-black, screaming his head off at Bulldogs offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to "Run the Dang Ball, you FULMERIZED FULMERIZED" somehow look rational. A three point loss to the HBC on the road looks more like an aberration than a sign of things to come.
6. Mississippi State: Dan Mullen is purportedly a candidate for the head coaching position at the University of Michigan, which means that if this really is the breakthrough season that the Cowbell faithful have been patiently awaiting, it's going to be forever tinged with a hazy nostalgia and sense of regret like a bad Instagram filter. In any case, before the Maize and Blue moving vans arrive in Starkville, keep in mind that Dak will need to prove that he can actually throw the ball against teams who load the box.
If you're reading this and you're a Cowbell fan, you have our condolences.
7. LSU: Brandon Harris is legitimately good, and he has the skill position help to succeed right away. If the Tigers can start playing with a lead, watch out. This is not a team we advise betting on or against.* This is one of those Les Miles teams that you know is going to lose Three-ish games, but you just don't know which ones. Or, rather, you do know which ones but HOO-BOY does that turn out to be wrong and before long you find yourself living in Tempe as Child Whiskey instead of Kid Bourbon so that your
bookie gentleman gambling facilitator doesn't break your legs.
*Not that such an option even exists in this country outside of Las Vegas.
P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
8. Tennessee: Painfully young, but does anyone really want to play the Vols right now?
9. Arkansas: Two good losses to two good teams (Auburn and TAMU)... but Arkansas' lack of depth is worrisome.
Black Or White
10. Mizzou: The game against South Carolina ended just like Pinkel drew it up, or something like that. So at this point we should discuss a little problem that we run up against in ranking this particular team and two others vis a vis this particular team. It's a problem that makes it at least 5-30% more difficult to do the rankings with confidence as to the accuracy contained therein. Here goes: Mizzou beat South Carolina on the road and amidst a looping single-song playlist of Da Rude, and so they deserve credit for that, yes? But then Mizzou also lost to Indiana, who didn't have Gene Hackman on the sideline calling plays -- he's been replaced with the Left Tackle's alcoholic father who only knew one play...but at least it was a good one play that he knew -- and who was also missing Jimmy Chitwood, their best player, who was out with a dreaded high ankle sprain. And did we mention this was a team from the B1G. And did we mention they lost to Bowling Green seven days prior? I mean, come on man.
And so we stick them here not only based on the unsatisfactory evidence of a win against South Carolina that wasn't nearly as good as their loss to The Fighting Chitwoods was bad, but also...well...we just think Sakerlina sorta sucks this year. More on that to come.
11. South Carolina: The HBC really needs to stop taking Ambien before he coaches. Did you all see the line for South Carolina's game this Saturday at Kentucky? South Carolina -5.5. Do what! I mean, yeah South Carolina has been struggling mightily and Kentucky is still Kentucky and is not a team that anyone would accuse of packing mad offensive ammunition, but it's still Kentucky, amirite? There is a tier between this entry and the next, and these tiers mean something, by God!
And yet....and yet. Alright, let's make like Robert Kelly and drop some Real Talk up in here (#realtalk). What exactly is it that they're good at? Are they particularly good at anything? Obviously, we have to knock them for getting bludgeoned by TAMU, and also for performances against ECU and Vandy that should have been better. And on the flipside give them credit for their lone solid showing, which was just a three point win at home against a team known to get its Richt on, but still worth something. But, again, with this team, I just ask what they’re good at. They appear to suck on defense (see TAMU), and then this week they can’t score to save themselves (which is of course probably to be expected given that Dylan Thompson couldn't hit a red spot if he parachuted onto Mars).
In sum, if we were interviewing South Carolina about their football playing prowess, it might go a little bit like this:
12. Kentucky: See entry directly above and then axe yourself whether Kentucky really has a chance to make that game a game. I mean, come on y'all:
13. Florida: If Tennessee doesn't win this game by two touchdowns, we'll be very surprised. If Tennessee doesn't win the game at all, we're probably not going to be in the mood to talk about it.
14. Vandy: Still terrible, but at least there's some company headed down to the dank basement where they reside. Progress? Hey, they covered the spread against Kentucky. Progress!
Bonus Power Ranking: Best 80s Songs Not Made By A Hair Band, by KidB
I gave myself two rules in constructing this list:
1) None of the songs could be by hair bands or something even arguably similar to a hair band. This is nothing against hair bands -- I think hair bands are quite delightful -- I just felt like bracketing them out of this particular Bonus Power Ranking. The result is an emphasis on more "New Wave" 80s pop, which is an underrated genre and one that, unlike 80s glam rock and all its Power Ballads in all their glory, paved the way for a great deal of awesome music that's very much flourishing today.
2) I could only list one track for an artist.
As always, I should note that this list has been made with complete accuracy and precision according to my subjective whims and personal preferences. If you'd like to tell me how terrible my list is and how you would have ranked them instead...well that's why God made comment sections.
Also, I only embedded clips to a few of the songs. I did so not to slight any of the fantastic songs in my fine list, but because embedding every song in a 14 song list just seems a bit gauche.
14. Tracy Chapman - Fast Car: I thought about leaving this one off because it doesn't have anything loosely resembling a stereotypical 80s sound, but then I decided to keep it on because it's just a fantastic song.
13. The Cure - Just Like Heaven: This song is like Tennessee in the Team Speed Kills SEC Power Rankings. It deserved several spots higher. It got robbed.
12. Blondie - Heart of Glass: Blondie was way ahead of her time. Name me a rap song that predates "Rapture" and that isn't by Sugarhill Gang. Take as much time as you need.
11. Pat Benetar - We Belong: This song is just one of hundreds of songs that prove that if you put a children's choir in a song, it will make that song better. #fact
10. INXS - Need You Tonight: Like A-ha, INXS is just so quintessentially 80s that I couldn't leave them off. But but but, KidB, you don't have any Tears for Fears. I know, I know. Too many MCs, not enough mics. Whaddaya gonna do?
9. Eddie Money - Take Me Home Tonight: God, I love this song.
8. Buggles - Video Killed The Radio Star: Sort of prescient, huh? This was the first song/video played on MTV.
7. Tom Petty - Don't Come Around Here No More: This isn't my favorite Tom Petty song, but it's my favorite Tom Petty song in the 80's, and it's probably my favorite music video of all time.
6. Eurythmics - Sweet Dreams: The Eurythmics were a very very influential group. They were EDM before EDM. Do they make better dance tracks than this?
5. Madonna - Like A Prayer: This is Madonna's best song, and I will only even accept arguments for "I'll Remember" and "Open Your Heart". No other songs are in the conversation.
4. A-Ha - Take On Me: To me, this is the quintessential 80s song.
3. Prince - KISS: If I were doing a Power Ranking of best pure pop songs, this would be top 5.
2. Rick Springfield - Jessie's Girl: Feelgood song of the decade or feelgood song of the forever?
1. Michael Jackson - Man In The Mirror: This one would be #1 regardless of whether hair band songs were included. Whenever this song would come on MTV, and I would hear it being played, I would run from wherever I was in the house right up next to the television, turn the volume up as loud as I could get away with and just stand there -- mesmerized, so to speak -- until the song was over. It still makes my hair stand on end when the song changes key on cue with the "CHANGE!". Great song.
1. This ranking is meant to be prospective in nature. It will do its best to ask which teams would win if they played tomorrow, and then rank accordingly. A prospective ranking looks at the same evidence as a retrospective ranking -- it necessarily has to; the past is all we got -- but instead of formlessly using that evidence as an end in and of itself, it attempts to use that evidence as an answer to the question we all wanna know: who is actually better at the game of football if they played a game of football on a neutral field tomorrow.↩
2. It's worth mentioning that the HBC is on track to be the most successful coach in South Carolina history, which is kind of like being the best writer on the Big Bang Theory in that it's embarrassing but lucrative. ↩