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SEC Football Power Rankings: Week 1

Rankings based on what we saw and what we know, so in any case arguably less horrible than everyone elses' rankings.

He good.
He good.
Scott Cunningham

A Note About Methodology

This ranking is meant to be prospective in nature.  It will do it's 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.

Having settled that, the next question is what evidence do we use to come up with this ranking?  Later on in the season, this question isn't really a question at all, but early in the season this is important enough to denote.  There are two directions you can go in early-season rankings and both are arguably a mistake.

1. The first arguable mistake you can make is look at the results of the games at the exclusion of all other evidence, with the all other evidence being all the evidence you used to form your preseason rankings.  Not taking this evidence into account necessarily results in a knee-jerk overreaction ranking, and overrating teams while being fully aware that you're overrating teams.

2.  On the other hand, you can give too much weight to your prior assumptions and ignore the evidence in front of your face and you've already formed an assumption about what the rankings should be and "by God, Tennessee always loses to Florida."  Both schools of thought are at least 5-30% flawed.  We're not quite sure which one is closer to 5% flawed and which one is closer to 30% flawed.  But both are at least 5-30% flawed.

Before we start, let's take a look at the best preseason rankings (best in terms of having a statistical basis, even if we disagree with them) to give us some idea of what reasonable prior assumptions would look like. That way, when we look at the evidence in front of our face, we'll have some context instead of "O-M-G the Aggies are winning the Nattie!"

Team S&P+ Ranking Opponent Opponent Ranking Differential Result
Alabama 2 West Virginia 71 -69 Alabama 33-23
South Carolina 7 Texas A&M 11 -4 TAMU 52-28
Auburn 8 Arkansas 53 -45 Auburn 45-21
Georgia 10 Clemson 5 +5 Georgia 45-21
Texas A&M 11 South Carolina 7 +4 TAMU 52-28
LSU 12 Wisconsin 15 -3 LSU 28-24
Missouri 22 South Dakota St FCS NA Mizzou 38-18
Ole Miss 24 Boise State 23 +1 Ole Miss 35-13
Mississippi St 26 Southern Miss 114 -88 Miss St 49-0
Florida 29 Idaho 119 -90 DNP
Arkansas 53 Auburn 8 +45 Auburn 45-21
Tennessee 55 Utah State 49 +6 Tennessee 38-7
Vanderbilt 61 Temple 95 -34 Temple 37-7
Kentucky 75 UT Martin FCS NA Kentucky 59-14

So now that we have an idea of what reasonable preseason predictions might have been, how do we handle the inherent contradiction between what-we-thought and what-we saw, especially if one of us favors one factor over another? Fisticuffs, wet willies, and chocolate swirlies, among other things...  and among the other things, we think that competing schools of thought and constructive arguments based thereon (with the more-than-occasional 'ARE-YOU-[FULMERIZED]ING-KIDDING-ME?', result in good, if difficult, compromises, and therefore arguably better rankings.

You can tell us in the comments if you think our rankings are awesome or less than awesome.  But, ultimately, let's be serious, they're probably awesome.

And, Finally, Onto The Rankings

You still with us?  You're still with us!

A Six-Pack Of Solid Teams

1.  UGA:  Todd Gurley is almost surely better than you at the game of football.  The Kid forcefully argued that Derrick Henry was better than Gurley, and The Kid is now questioning himself.  The Chubb kid is good too, but Gurley is something else. Also, based on the preseason rankings, this is one of the two best wins of the week.

2.  Auburn: No QB issues with this team, and they looked really good in the second half (once Nick Marshall was back in the game).  Also, we don't think that BERT is nearly as terrible at the game of football as BERT was last year, and so the win -- and especially the second half performance -- aren't totally to be taken with a dash of salt. Does that defense still worry us? Um, yes.

3.  Alabama:  Blake Sims actually had good numbers in his debut, and he's not going to be asked to do much in an offense featuring T.J. Yeldon, who isn't even as good as also-featured Derrick Henry (no matter if either are wearing SPANX).  Also, the defense allowed only 16 points from an offense in WVU that just might prove to be pretty good (pretty good in this case meaning the usual great offense but horrible defense team we've come to expect from Holgo. Sidebar: Kid, how did you avoid making a hairline comparison joke with Holgo and D. Henry on opposite sidelines?!).

4.  Texas A&M:  You have to take this game with a grain of salt, right?  There's just no way this team is as good as they looked against Sakerlina.  Or are they really that good?  We thought #4 was a fair compromise between what we saw, which was pretty good, and the preseason rank--wait... Carolina was #7 in Connelly's rankings?! Oh, um, well then. This is the other really great looking win based on the preseason rankings.

5.  Ole Miss:  They looked fairly pedestrian on offense until the fourth quarter, when they scored four times in four possessions.  And their defense is solid.  We knew that going in, and we don't think the assumption has changed.

6.  LSU:  We still think Leonard Fournette is a stud who could bust loose, but we just didn't like the approach against Wisconsin, and especially in the first half.  Wisconsin's QB is maybe the worst in the NCAA.  He's terrible.  He's like a poor man's homeless man's version of Clawfense Jonathan Crompton.  Dude quite possibly literally couldn't complete a pass over 9 yards to save himself. He doesn't have any butt-fumbles to his name yet, but give him time. And it wasn't until the second half that LSU sold out to stop the only thing Wisconsin can do.  Moreover, LSU is -- again -- completely unimaginative on offense, and this will bite them for the 2-3 SEC losses it always does in the non-awesome (read: non-beastly on defense) LSU years.

Promise In the Middle

7.  Tennessee:  This is not a homer ranking. This is a really, really good win. Tennessee just beat a team with a pulse that the advanced stats favored by a touchdown on a neutral field, and beat them convincingly.

8.  Mississippi State: "Yeah, but it was against Southern Mississippi." How bad are the Fightin' Favres? Try #114 out of 128 teams and 1-23 in their last 24 games. That's B-A-D bad.

9.  South Carolina:  Holy Sunseri that secondary was atrocious. Replacing superhuman (really, he must have adamantium in his limbs) quarterback Connor Shaw with Dylan Thompson was supposed to be a wash, but except in the Jeopardy category "Southern Names", that turned out not to be true. Thompson's average stats have always been reasonable, but the rate stats disguise his propensity to either lead a scoring drive or go three-and-out. However, this team does have some defensive talent, especially at linebacker, and Mike Davis is still pretty good at football. They had a really bad day against TAMU, but we think they at least have a pulse.

The Bottom Is Bad News Like The Bears

10.  Arkansas: Where else can you rank this team at this point?  They appear to at least have a pulse, but they still lost by quite a bit, so we can't get too too nuts here.

11.  Missouri: The last game that South Dakota State played was against Eastern Washington, and they lost 17-42.  They lost to Missouri 18-38.  Do the math.  There's at least a 5-30% discrepancy in there, and it isn't in Mizzou's favor.

12.  Kentucky:  They beat UT-Martin convincingly, which the Kid was originally going to make fun of, but come on, Kid! This is progress!

13.  Vanderbilt: This was a horrible loss to a bad team. Something is going on in that locker room or with that coaching staff, because Franklin recruited well enough that losses of this magnitude shouldn't happen. Vandy shouldn't turn the ball over seven times again, which will help the final score, but the Dorrell hire is looking ever more like a complete mess.

Who You Played?

14. Florida: Don't play, don't get ranked.

And Now We Power Rank Under-28 Contemporary Female Pop Acts

1.  Haim:  These girls can really play.  Have you seen them live?  They're good.  And that album is crazy good!  Get on it.

2.  Charli XCX:  Two Words: Boom. Clap.  You love that every-now-and-again Cowbell, don't you?  And you want more Cowbell, don't you?  Yeah, me too.

3.  Lorde: Did you know that Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor is *really* only 17 years old?  Crazy, right?  She loves hanging out on the tennis court, and we like her for that.

4.  Lana Del Ray:  We weren't huge on Lana, but the whole Brooklyn Baby thing changed everything.

5.  Ariana Grande: Tell me you've never had the song "Problem" stuck in your head...and then. stop. lying.

6.  Ellie Goulding:  We hate to rank Ellie this low, but whaddaya gonna do?  She ain't Haim.  She ain't Charli.  She ain't got range like Ariana.  And she's neither a Brooklyn Baby nor a Royal.

7.  Azealia Banks:  Not to be confused with Iggy Azalea, Mz. Banks raps better and can sing to boot.  We actually don't quite understand why Azealia hasn't followed up with better stuff after her debut "212".  The talent is there, we just need to see some better execution.

8.  Taylor Swift:  Her new single is one of the worst songs we've ever heard.

9.  Miley Cyrus:  We luv ya, Miley.  Keep twerkin', girl.

10.  Katy Perry: We won't lie and say we don't love the song Teenage Dream.  We do.  Of course we do.  But not because of Katy Perry, who, in that particular track, was like an Alabama quarterback: merely along for the ride.