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SEC Power Rankings, Week 13: The Season in Review

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Well now, let's sit a piece and conversate about how we see the SEC now that the regular season is over.

"Trying to learn how to walk like heroes we thought we had to be."
"Trying to learn how to walk like heroes we thought we had to be."
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Methodology note: This is the last version of the Power Rankings until the bowl games, so it also serves as a retrospective of our votes so far this year. While we like to have fun with this exercise, it's important to keep us honest-- humor is one thing, Rick Reilly HOT SPORTS TAKES are another. Below you'll find a chart of all of our combined votes for the season, with a few of the more volatile teams in more visible colors. Unlike the actual polls done by serious professional journalists, being ranked in the bottom half of the league was no barrier to ending up in the top half-- Mississippi State and Arkansas both pulled that move, while Florida was poised to finish in the top three before a late season swoon sent them back to the middle of the pack.

Next, you'll find a chart with the preseason rankings (hint: they weren't good for anyone other than Sabanites) and the highest/lowest poll rankings.

Rocky Top Talk's 2015 Power Rankings
Team Preseason Rank Highest Lowest Conference Record Overall Record
Alabama 1 1 (8 weeks) 3 7-1 12-1
Ole Miss 7 1 (2 weeks) 7 6-2 9-3
Arkansas 8 3 13 5-3 7-5
Tennessee 4 4 9 5-3 8-4
Mississippi State 11 3 11 4-4 8-4
LSU 5 1 (3 weeks) 6 5-3 8-3
Georgia 3 3 9 5-3 9-3
TAMU
6 2 9 4-4 8-4
Florida
12 2 13 7-1 10-3
Auburn 2 2 13 2-6 6-6
Missouri 10 8 14 (3 weeks) 1-7 5-7
South Carolina 9 9 14 (2 weeks) 1-7 3-9
Vanderbilt 14 11 14 (6 weeks) 2-6 4-8
Kentucky 13 8 14 (2 weeks) 2-6 5-7

Our expert voters have worked hard all season, and this week's edition is no exception: Chris mostly sober for the production of these rankings and KidB recently returned from a romantic holiday excursion with his lover Derrick Henry, so like Peyton Manning throwing in a dome on Monday Night Football, this is as good as it gets.

Here's the link to Team Speed Kills, where the consensus rankings are available: SEC Power Rankings, Week 13.

SEC Power Rankings, Week 13: American Iconography

    THE PROMISED LAND: YOUR PRESEASON 2016 #1

  1. Alabama. Chris: Took a while to dispatch Auburn, but like pretty much every single Alabama game since Week 4, Alabama slowly strangled all the fun out of the game and all the life out of their opponent. Derrick Henry is going to break 350 carries on the season, so if you're wondering why NFL teams are going to shy away from him, that's why. KidB: I was totally wrong when I predicted that the spread for the SEC Championship Game would be Alabama -22.5. It's actually -17.5. A championship game having a spread of more than two touchdowns is still completely ridiculous. The only team from the East that Bama wouldn't be favored by at least two touchdowns against is Tennessee, so I guess that's something. Anyway, I don't really know what else to say about Alabama except that they're really good this year and I'll surprised if they don't win the Natty. Hunter: "Oh no, how will Nick Saban ever replace his genius defensive coordinator if he goes to Georgia?" said no one.

  2. THE RISING: SHOULD FINISH RANKED, AKA CONTENDERS IN 2016

  3. Ole Miss. Hunter: If not for an inexplicable loss to Florida, we might be talking about the Rebels as a potential National Championship contender for 2016. Sure, Ole Miss also lost to Memphis and Arkansas, but Memphis has turned out to be quite good and the loss to BERT was fluky to say the least. Freeze also has the Rebels in a good pace on the recruiting trail, which is important because they're losing virtually everyone from the Tunsil-Treadwell recruiting class. Chris: Comfortably dispatched a competent Mississippi State team to the tune of people openly worrying if Dan Mullen was taking another job at halftime. It doesn't excuse their mid-season swoon, but this is the Ole Miss squad everyone was worrying about before the season started. KidB: What in the world happened to this team on October 3rd that allowed them to give up 38 points to Florida's finely tuned three-and-out machine? The Memphis loss is actually way more understandable -- at least IMHO -- than that abomination. Well, either way, they finished up strong and are solid in the #2 spot. How will this team be next year? Their springboard recruiting class will be Seniors, but then the serious studs from that class won't be around for their senior year, and their 2014 and 2015 classes weren't nearly as good. I think we may see a bit of a drop off.
  4. Arkansas. Chris: Leave it to BERT to ruin Gary Pinkel's last chance for a bowl game. Also leave it to BERT to take way too long to get rumbling, only to turn into an avalanche by the end of the year. Got that fat man running downhill game. KidB: This season's version of BERT was just Oh. So. BERT. And I have a feeling that all of his teams are going to start strongly resembling each other. So get ready for a second season of your favorite SEC sitcom. "Oh. So. BERT." is getting renewed. Hunter: It's almost time for BERT to start his annual hibernation that starts after the Arkansas bowl game and lasts until November 2016.
  5. Tennessee. Hunter: James Franklin: left for Penn State. Will Muschamp: fired. Steve Spurrier: quit during the season. Gary Pinkel: retiring. Mark Richt: fired. Butch Jones went from a rookie in one of the toughest coaching divisions in the country to the second-longest tenured guy (by two weeks) in just under three years. Chris: Amazingly, the Vols are playing like the best team in the SEC East. Heck, they might even be 5-3 in a real Power Five division. KidB: Well, we didn't beat any great teams, but we had the look down the stretch of a team that could have well beaten a great team had we had any more to play. Optimism and increased expectations abound for 2016. And we shouldn't shy away from this, and we shouldn't let Butch Jones shy away from it either. If we haven't arrived next year, then when will we? 10-2 should be the baseline for next year.
  6. Mississippi State. Chris: The last good team of the lot. It's various shades of downhill from here. KidB: Dan Mullen should have sold high and skipped town for one of the four trillion head coaching vacancies. Things are going to get a good deal trickier for a Dakless version of The Fighting Cowbells. Hunter: Dak Prescott has to be the best quarterback in CLANGA history, if only because I can't name a single other State quarterback.

  7. LAND OF HOPE AND DREAMS: TEAMS IN TRANSITION, PART I

  8. The Hat is dead-- Long live the Hat! Chris: Still missing a high-level passing game, but actually has a head coach. I'm sure that will be a totally stable situation since Les was all but fired going into the Texas A&M game. Hunter: Made the decision to keep Les Miles in the third quarter of the game against TAMU, meaning that the decision to fire a winning coach owed a $15 million buyout and to run out for second-half Chik-fil-A happen on roughly the same time line in the LSU AD. KidB: Holding on to The Mad Hatter was the right move. This team already has the cupboards filled with solid talent, and now they're gonna be sprinkling a Da Coacheaux certified #1 recruiting class on top of it for next year. I think the futures market for the Bayou Bengals remains bullish. Of course, it wouldn't hurt if Les Miles decided to do something totally outside of his comfort zone and recruit a competent QB.
  9. Georgia. Chris: Good luck with that abyss! May end up hiring Tom Herman. May end up hiring Tom Tuberville. SPIN THAT WHEEL. Hunter: Fired Mark Richt because he had the temerity to only win 9 games this season. Kirby Smart may be the next coming of Saban, but Saban only won 6 games his first season in Tuscaloosa. How is it going to go over with the fans if it takes Smart a year to get things going? Remember, first year head coaches often have to deal with transfers, new schemes, and program fit issues. KidB: I very much think that firing Mark Richt was the right thing to do for that program. The guy has essentially perfected the art of going 9-3 with 11-1 talent, and the random bed-pooping games each season were not some fabricated myth by super duper mean people from opposing fanbases. No no. That phenomenon was quite real. If anything, UGA probably should have parted ways with The Great Butt Cut a season or two ago. I mean, when I'm hoping that they keep him on, that's a pretty good indication that it's time for him to go. But then to hire on Kirby Smart? I think they could have done better. I think they could have found more of a sure thing. Kirby Smart does not strike fear into my heart like others might have.
  10. Texas A&M. Chris: Again, just kind of ....there. Didn't do much against LSU, pulled a moderate upset against Mississippi State, but yeah. Average sounds about right. Hunter: Just like we all expected, Kevin Sumlin has built a defensive juggernaut in College Station. KidB: I don't have much of a read on this team or on Kevin Sumlin generally. Is he a good coach, or was he merely the coach of a hyper elite college football QB? And, yes, John Tackle Football was *that* good in college. The post-JFF teams may be more revealing of the true Kevin Sumlin, and if so, I can't say I'm terribly impressed.

  11. BRILLIANT DISGUISE: THE PAPER GATOR

  12. Florida. Chris: Look, it's a power move to not even have your offense score going into a game against Alabama. Keeps 'em on their toes. KidB: I hate you guys so very very much. Hunter: Fingers crossed that Defensive Coordinator Geoff Collins heads to Tuscaloosa!

  13. BADLANDS: TEAMS IN TRANSITION, PART II

  14. Auburn. Hunter: Will Muschamp is a vampire. How else do you explain how he sucked all the fun and energy out of Auburn's offense this year? Chris: Finished a fairly mediocre season with a fairly mediocre result. Would be talking about how they're an up-and-coming team in the SEC East. KidB: I still think Guz Malzahn is a great offensive mind; I just don't think he had the pieces this year that he needs for his offense to be anywhere near its scoreboard-exploding potential. It'll be interesting to see if and how Auburn bounces back next year. I think that they will, but I'm wrong a lot.

  15. Missouri. Chris: Getting housed by BERT? Yeah, whatever. Here, have this 12 seed and good-luck being the third-best SEC East opening this off-season. Hunter: Reportedly, new head coach Barry Odom is sweeping out virtually all of Pinkel's assistant coaches. Is that really the seamless transition Missouri fans expected? I hope Butch is paying attention, because former Other Other Tigers defensive line coach Kuligowski is about to hit the market. KidB: Speaking of Eric Cartman, have you all seen the last two episodes of South Park? God bless you, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. #safespace #hungerstrike #fireadministrators
  16. South Carolina. Chris: From the "partial credit" files, actually kind of played Clemson close, which--again, all these teams from here on down are bad--counts for something. I guess. Hunter: How many teams in the SEC East can build around lock-down defense as a programmatic strategy? I think South Carolina is making a mistake by not tapping an offensive guy like Dino Babers. KidB: Are they really going to hire Muschampionships? Please please let it be true.

  17. MY CITY OF RUINS: WAITING ON A SUNNY DAY

  18. Vanderbilt. Chris: Gave up 36 unanswered to Tennessee last week, but at least they were trailing the entire time. Going from losing to getting pasted is pretty Vanderbilt, but at least they were trailing first. Hunter: Vanderbilt is an interesting team-- Derek Mason is right on track with the historical average for Commodore coaches (3.8 wins a season), but the defense is so good that it's easy to believe that a merely average offense would mean good things for Vanderbilt. With the rest of the East in chaos, can the Commodores improve fast enough to pass some of the teams in transition? It won't be enough to merely keep pace. KidB: Are they really not going to fire Derek Mason? Please, please let it be true.
  19. Kentucky. Chris: Gave up 31 unanswered points in an epic choke job and will once again sit out bowl season. Mark Stoops is now in Year 3 of the Joker Project 2: Return of the Joke. Does Florida need a WR coach? KidB: Patrick Towles is transferring from Kentucky? What do we think this tells us about the state of the program? I mean, I may have been overrating the guy this whole time, but I thought he was a pretty solid QB that could them to a few good seasons. Maybe I was wrong and this won't hurt them at all. Or maybe this could be an indication of systemic issues in the Homeless Stoops Brother's regime. The good news is, they can't really do anything but improve from the second half of this season. And us UT fans know that the best way to ensure that our team meets expectations, is to keep expectations low. Amirite or amirite? Hunter: I thought Stoops was a decent hire for Kentucky, so I don't really know how to explain the late season swoon that's kept them out of bowl games two years running. It's not like they're terrible: Florida, Auburn, and Vanderbilt all won by less than a touchdown-- but the Wildcats seem to go through these headscratching lulls where they forget how to play.

Individual votes

Hunter: 1. Alabama, 2. Ole Miss, 3. Arkansas, 4. Tennessee, 5. Mississippi State, 6. LSU, 7. TAMU, 8. Georgia, 9. Auburn, 10. Florida, 11. Vanderbilt, 12. Missouri, 13. Kentucky, 14. South Carolina

Chris Pendley: 1. Alabama, 2. Ole Miss, 3. Arkansas, 4. Tennessee, 5. Mississippi State, 6. LSU, 7. Florida, 8. Texas A&M, 9. Georgia, 10. Auburn, 11. South Carolina, 12. Missouri, 13. Vanderbilt, 14. Kentucky

Kid Bourbon: 1. Alabama, 2. Ole Miss, 3. BERT, 4. The Volunteers, 5. CLANGA, 6. LSU, 7. Georgia, 8. Texas A&M, 9. Auburn, 10. Florida, 11. South Carolina, 12. Missouri, 13. Kentucky, 14. Vanderbilt