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The Most Powerful SEC Power Rankings: Week 4

Wherein we try to come up with something as bad as losing to Indiana in a game of football, and we're not sure we succeed.

Wesley Hitt

A Note About Methodology

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.

Weekend Results Recap, For People Who Didn't Watch the Games (aka Everyone Apple-Picking and Enjoying the Crisp Fall Air)

Team Preseason S&P+ Week 1 S&P+ Week 2 S&P+ Week 3 S&P+ Week 4 S&P+ Opponent Opponent Ranking Result Current Record
Alabama 2 2 2 2 1 Florida 28 Alabama 42-21
Texas A&M 11 9 6 10 5 SMU 113 TAMU 58-6
Ole Miss
24 24 22 9 8 BYE NA NA 3-0
Mississippi State 26 17 20 11 9 LSU 14 MSU 34-29 4-0
LSU 12 18 12 14 13 Mississippi State 11 MSU 34-29 3-1
Auburn 8 14 5 5 14 Kansas State 34 Auburn 20-14 3-0
Georgia 10 8 9 16 16 Troy 108 Georgia 66-0 2-1
South Carolina 7 22 17 20 23 Vanderbilt 74 Carolina 48-34 2-1
Missouri 22 23 21 18 28 Indiana 38 Indiana 31-27 2-1
Arkansas 53 76 36 30 31 Northern Illinois 66 Arkansas 52-14
Florida 29 31 33 28 45 Alabama 2 Alabama 45-21 2-1
Tennessee 55 52 47 53 46 BYE NA NA 2-1
Kentucky 75 50 53 70 67 BYE NA NA 2-1
Vanderbilt 61 75 83 74 80 South Carolina 20 Carolina 48-34

Onto The Most Serene and Sovereign of all SEC Power Rankings

We learned this week that the Football Gods are chaotic neutral.


1. Auburn: The most exciting team in the conference was anything but in grinding out an extremely ugly mid-week win against semi-retired football coach/wizard Bill Snyder (who was extremely pissed that his Expecto Patronum play call couldn't bring off a win). This means that Auburn and North Dakota State finally intersect on the Venn diagram of wins.  We can't really hold this game against Auburn, though, and here's why:

  • Thursday night road games are hard-- shorter week, more disruptive travel, unfamiliar rhythm-- everybody knows this, yet we tend to discount the results.
  • Yes, K-State could have scored a few field goals more than they did, but did you see how many points Auburn left on the board due to a ridiculous case of the dropsies? D'haquille "Duke" Williams is going to be demoted to Earl or Viscount Williams if he can't fix his hands in a hurry.
  • At least one of us is not particularly pleased that Guz Malzahn failed to cover the spread Thursday night, but we will note that he could have covered the spread if he had wanted to, but chose to take a knee in the Victory Formation -- and rule out the possibility of a Great Moment In Gambling History -- to end the game in the Little Big Apple.

2. Alabama: We don't think that the Florida team is particularly good at football, but we should also note that Alabama gained 645 yards on a defense that everybody knows wins Muschampionships.  This is the most total yardage that has ever been gained on a Florida defense.  As in ever ever, including Ron Zook, Galen Hall, and other members of the lowest circle of Gator Hell.  Yeah.  Plus, the score against Florida should have been substantially worse than it was, as two of Florida's scores came on short fields after Alabama fumbles.  While causing fumbles has at least some basis in skill, recovering fumbles is essentially random (trending towards 50% in the long run) and thus useless from a predictive point of view.

Moreover, the win against the Mountain Couch Fires is looking better after giving Oklahoma all that they could handle.  In one of the rare comparison game we have between two top tier teams in different conferences, Oklahoma's defense was barely out-gained and gave up 33 points while Alabama's defense dominated the yardage statistics and held the the Mountaineers to 16 non special-teams points.

So, the moral of the story is this:

  • Florida stinks like an overflowing dumpster of rotting seafood, festering in the sweltering heat of a Gainesville-area Red Lobster parking lot;
  • Will Muschamp remains the worst ("Hey, did y'all forget about me" --Charlie Weis) one of the worst head coaches in all the land; and,
  • Shockingly introducing a brand new coordinator for the third time in four years didn't solve the Gator's offensive woes.

Even with all of these self-evident truths, it's hard to knock Alabama too much, because they turned the ball over four times themselves, made numerous mistakes, and still dominated the Gators on both sides of the ball. It's amazing what having the top-rated recruiting class in the country for four years in a row can do for a team.

3. Texas A&M:  At some point, Texas A&M will run into an opponent they can't just steamroll, but when will that be?  The results of their first game against Sakerlina were surely impressive, but we know that Sakerlina's secondary is flaming garbage and just the type of outfit that an offensive attack in the Kevin Sumlin mold finds ripe for exploitation.  And so it was.  What will happen when this offense goes up against a defense with a working pulse in the secondary?  We're not sure but we suspect that points will still be put on the scoreboard with more than deliberate speed.

Also (and this is just as an FYI), in the case of a tie in these rankings, we are breaking that tie in TAMU's favor on the basis of Kenny Hill calling himself Kenny Trill.  We love that.  We can't stress this enough.

Run the World (Girls)

4. Georgia: If there's one certainty you can count on in a world gone mad, it's a team coached by Mark Richt absolutely destroying an overmatched opponent the week after losing a game they should have won. Also, not to put too fine a point on it, but this is not decent mid-major Troy of previous years. This is 90s throwback Troy who works at Pizza Hut, lives in his uncle's basement, and loves Nickelback.

The biggest surprise about this game is that no Dawgs players were arrested afterward.

Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)

5. Ole Miss: Dominated BYE this week, but Dr. Bo still turned the ball over twice (in beer pong, but still, ball security, doctor!)

6. Mississippi State: They went into Baton Rouge and came away with a win, and in a night game to boot.  This is no easy task, and there's a lot to like about this year's version of the Starkvegas Sidewinders.  Dak Prescott is at the very top of that list, with his athleticism allowing for explosive plays off the read option (which, as Vol fans know all too well, is much preferred over non-explosive plays off the no-read option).  Dan Mullen and his sworn allegiance to mediocrity, on the other hand, is well down the list, and makes us wonder if the type of play that we saw from the Cowbell Kids this Saturday is the exception or the rule. We'll give them the benefit of the doubt for now and place them just behind their in-state rivals.  MSU gets a week off before taking on TAMU in the land of 50,000 cowbells. Leave your earplugs at home, because you're gonna want that cowbell:

7. LSU:  Don't count this team out yet, but where else can we rank them?  They lost at home to Mississippi State and they very nearly got beat in week 1 by a Big Ten team (though at least it was a Big Ten team that appears to have something loosely resembling a pulse).  This is your standard Les Miles LSU team, which is different from your amazing Les Miles LSU team.  Both the amazing and standard variety of Les Miles LSU teams are arguably way too conservative on offense, but the amazing Les Miles LSU teams can get away with a stale offense because their defense is just straight-up disgusting.  The standard variety is equipped with a defense that is merely very good, but certainly something less than straight-up disgusting.  And so we know, from having observed several standard Les Miles LSU teams, this year's yellow and purple clad outfit will probably lose 3 more games while playing all of those games quite competitively.

Of course, the Bayou Bengals did have a great deal more success on offense when freshman signal caller Brandon Harris took over behind center in the fourth quarter.  If he's the man going forward, and the fourth quarter success they had moving the ball with him in the game is sustainable going forward, then you can probably scrap all of the above paragraph as this team could be one of the best in the league.


8. Tennessee: The bye week couldn't have come at a better time for the Vols, who had the chance to watch the rest of the SEC East (except for Georgia and Kentucky) take it on the chin while getting healthy in Knoxville. If laughter is the best medicine, we hope that Von Pearson was watching the Mizzou-Indiana game.

9. South Carolina: The HBC appears to actively dislike the Ballteam that he Ballcoaches.

Should we feel any different?  Oh right, the UGA game.  Ranking teams is hard, although probably not any harder than actually coaching a team, unless you're coaching Vanderbilt, in which case, okay, ranking is definitely easier.


10. Arkansas: We've been saying from the very get go that this team had a pulse, and BERT and the Hoggettes (please god, if there's any justice in this universe let that be the name of his choreographed Father-Daughter dance) have made us look quite prescient. Arkansas has been absolutely dominant on the ground, and so far, opponents haven't had the talent to take away the run and try to make the Razorbacks beat them through the air. After watching the Mississippi State-LSU game, the Tigers probably aren't a team that can do that... but what about Alabama, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State?

Oh, and not to mention TAMU, who they get this Saturday on the road.  If they can hang with Kenny Trill and his entourage, a statement will have been made.

11. Missouri: WHOOOOOOOOO BOY THAT WAS BAD. Okay, okay, so many jokes here we're just going to have to go lightning round:

  • Indiana is the Kentucky of the Big 10 (Purdue is the Vanderbilt, in case you were wondering), so losing to the Hosers (Hoosiers? Hosiers?) is only acceptable in basketball, and then only when they're led by a player favorably compared to Larry Bird.
  • According to Bill C's weekly F/+ picks column, Missouri had an 81.5% chance of beating Indiana, which means that Indiana, yes, had roughly a 5-30% chance to win that game. On an unrelated note, the only thing we're picking Mizzou to cover the rest of the year is our eyes with how awful they played in this game.
  • Agreeing to a home-and-home with Indiana is like accepting a date with an unattractive random from Tinder out of desperation only to be caught out in public by a group of your friends.
  • Losing to Indiana is like the previous scenario only instead of being caught in public, you're caught drunkenly making out like the cure for Ebola is in the other person's mouth/cleavage/pants.
  • Losing to Indiana at home is like the previous scenario only once you're seen, you lose it entirely and start shrieking, because you've recently moved to a new town full of much more attractive people, you've been accepted into the cool kids crowd, and you're trying so hard to fit in by proving how cool/sexy/fun you are... only now all your new friends have seen that your Regina George catty comments were a front for a desperate, attention-starved rage-monster, and oh-by-the-way your college boyfriend from another town is probably a fake.
  • Losing to Indiana at home in this year's Big Ten is like being a student at Indiana and going on Wheel of Fortune during college week and then doing this:

12. Kentucky: The Wildcats enjoyed a delicious repast of BYE, paired with a crisp and refreshing glass of schadenfreude, as for once, Kentucky was not the target of the "They 'sposed to be SEC" meme. This coming weekend, Kentucky faces Vandy in a game that will either confirm our suspicion that Mark Stoops has actually coached up a pretty good team this year... or will just devolve into two flawed teams engaged in a cripple fight battle royale.

Either way, we do not recommend tuning in to catch the "action", as ESPN will do the dirty work for you on the Not Top 10.

13. Florida: We love you, Will Muschamp, for all of the things that you do. Please consider this a Valentine, directly from our hearts to yours.

We wish you could stick around for longer, but we doubt you will.

A Song by That One Girl Who Was Kicked Out of Destiny's Child

14. Vandy: Don't get too overwhelmed by Vandy scoring 34 points on Sakerlina.  14 of them were off kickoff returns, which speaks more to the Gamecocks' special teams prowess than to Vandy's return game.  Stated differently; we don't think Vandy cribbing two kickoffs per game is even a little sustainable.  We do think that Vandy is still terrible at the game of football.

Bonus Power Ranking: Television Character Draft

For this week's Bonus Power Ranking, the two co-authors staged a very impromptu TV character fantasy draft. The rules were as follows: snake draft, all characters eligible, no internet research allowed, 30 second running clock per pick. This is the first collaborative effort for our Very Powerful Bonus Power Rankings, and we do hope that you enjoy.  And we also hope that you tell us how terrible we are fantasy drafting television characters and how much better you would have done. This is, as you may recall, why God made comments sections.

Hunter's Team (draft spot):

  1. Homer Simpson (2). Eric Cartman was a pretty solid lead-off pick by the Kid, but Homer Simpson is one of the most successful and longest lived characters in any medium, ever. He inherited the throne of the schlubby everyman from Al Bundy, but through more than 500 episodes, he's become far more than a caricature, truly plumbing the emotional depths of modern life from the absurd to the profound.
  2. Sam Waterston (3). Yeah, yeah, I know his character is actually named Jack McCoy, as if anyone cares. So why this pick? Two reasons: (1) your parents are the number one demographic on television, and they almost exclusively watch CBS. Waterston's clever portrayal of McCoy as a morally upright yet occasionally conflicted crusader created the archetype that led to CSI: Wherever, NCIS: Handsome Actor You Can't Quite Place, Law and Order: Who Stole My Lunch from the Breakroom Fridge, I Know it Was You, Cathy, etc. (2) Law and Order is still one of the truly great mid-afternoon shows to watch while at home sick.
  3. Captain Picard (6). My next two picks should have been in reverse order. Sure, Picard broadens my portfolio by nabbing the longest running, most popular sci-fi captain (sorry, Kirk, you're a movie character, and Captain Mal from Firefly lacks mass appeal), but Omar is one of the most unique and most memorable characters ever. If you don't know who he is, go watch the Wire immediately.
  5. Khaleesi Danerys Targaryen (10). I could have gone a number of ways here, but for my money, Danerys is the best character on the most critically acclaimed current show. Even people who don't watch Game of Thrones know about Khaleesi, her occasional nudity, and her evolution from a weak, powerless character to a fearless leader. Also, not to get too spidery, but Khaleesi and Omar stand out in an otherwise far too monochromatic television landscape.
  6. Cosmo Kramer (11). Dwight Schrute and other modern knuckleheads are all descended from Seinfeld's resident crazy man.
  7. Walter White (14). I can't believe he was available so late! Some people might think that Tony Soprano/Walter White are too similar as characters, but here's the crucial difference: Soprano, at his core, is an anti-hero; sure, he does bad things, but at least he's conflicted. He's not a bad guy to the core. White, on the other hand, is the first real villain-as-a-lead character. There's no redemption in Breaking Bad, just the desperation and bad choices of a man who once he seems to have reached the bottom, just keeps on digging.
  8. Dexter (15). A reach, but we were without the Internet.
  9. Bea Arthur from the Golden Girls (18). Another ground-breaking portrayal.
  10. Adam Brody from the O.C. (19). Originally this was going to be the more interesting Chuck from Gossip Girl, but I used a Mulligan and went with early 2000s nerd-hero Brody. His portrayal of Seth Cohen introduced a huge range of subcultures to the mass market: comic books, Comic-Con, action figures, Sylvester Stallone B-movies, made up religious holidays (Chrismakkuh), and, above all, the sense that the nerd really could get the girl. He managed to package the fast-paced dialogue of a Gilmore Girls or West Wing episode with the cultural sensibility of a hipster darling. For better or worse, this was the beginning of hipster culture in the mainstream.

KidB's Team (draft spot):

  1. Eric Cartman (1): This is the obvious #1, and I would have taken him even if I knew Hunter wouldn't have taken him in the next two picks.  And though I'm not sure whether he would have, he claims he would have taken Homer Simpson if he'd had the top pick.  If that's the case, then I'm just calling that a poor eye for talent.  Yes, Homer Simpson is a legend, but he's no Eric Cartman.
  2. Dennis Reynolds (4):  I probably could have gotten Dennis later on in the draft, but that really wasn't my line of thinking through this process.  Rather, it was to choose the characters that I thought were the best.  And so while some of you may claim this is a "hipster" pick, I think it's a solid pick. Dennis Reynolds is the glue that holds together one of my very favorite shows.
  3. Dr. Gregory House (5):  I was really happy with this pick, and still am.  The idea behind Dr. House is that he's a Sherlock Holmes of medicine (get it House, Holmes).  But I've never seen a Sherlock Holmes character as compelling as Greg House.  It doesn't matter what he does, he can get away with it, because they need answers, and he's the only one that can come up with them.
  4. Hank Moody (8).  Probably my weakest pick.  I'd seen this show (Californication) a couple of days before and it was fresh on my mind. I do think Hank Moody is a cool dude and mad Alpha, but I would probably do this one differently.  Though, as Hunter noted, we were not given internet access and there were time limits, and so a less-than-strong pick was bound to happen.
  5. Lorne Malvo (9):  But this one is not a weak pick by any stretch of the imagination.  This is Billy Bob Thornton's character from the relatively recent series, Fargo.  I imagine that many of you haven't seen the show, and if not, I highly recommend it.  And Lorne Malvo makes it.  Billy Bob Thornton has won an Academy Award, if my memory serves me correctly, and yet I contend that Lorne Malvo is his best character.
  6. Al Bundy (12):  Classic character.
  7. Tony Soprano (13):  Getting Tony Soprano this late is imho the best pick of the draft and one of the many reasons I'm confident that Team Kid will be declared the consensus winner.
  8. Zack Morris (16):  I'm rather proud of this pick as well.  When the Saved By The Bell gang formed a band, they didn't name it Storming Slaters or Belding Barrage.  No no.  They named it Zack Attack.  And they're talking 'bout Friends Forever.
  9. Sponge Bob (17): I can't think of a more ruthlessly optimistic television character.   Sponge Bob inspires.
  10. Sterling Archer (20):  Only a cooler, and more identifiable James Bond.  Nothing too awesome about that, right?
So who do you think won?