Power rankings are a complete fabrication for the first few weeks of the season, because there isn't enough data and it's easy to construe the limited game results we have in ways that will look silly at the end of the season. Nevertheless, it's fun and provides another opportunity for some intra-SEC trash talk.
Methodology Note: To steal from Rock M Nation blogger Jack Peglow, I am a serious, professional blogger and this ranking was in no way, shape, or form decided by anything other than the most sober and sophisticated analytical methods. Deep inside a locked room at Rocky Top Talk headquarters, I pored over off-season reports, watched game film, and consulted Derek Mason's magical notebook. Then, fortified by the finest Tennessee corn products, provisioned by a Litton's burger, and blessed with the full faith and confidence of shadowy Vols power-behind-the-throne Joel Hollingsworth, I created this ranking with the aide of my consigliere.
SEC Power Rankings, Week 1
- Alabama. Nick Saban remains the toughest, most hardworking micro-manager in all of sports. Like previous iterations of Tuscaloosa Consolidated Football Wins Corporation, Ltd., this team disciplined, talented, and won't beat themselves. However, this is no longer a team that will smack you in the mouth; Saban's conversion to prevailing football trends means that this is a finesse bunch (see: playoff game against Ohio State). If Cam Robinson misses any time, the left side of the offensive line could struggle, with a redshirt freshman at left guard and nothing but freshmen behind them.
- Football Hogwarts. Fantastic recruiting over the last few years, Gus Malzahn might be the best offensive coach in college football, and Will Muschamp is a FULMERIZED good defensive coordinator. Auburn also had the best win of the week over a Louisville squad that's probably better than advertised. Say what you want about Bobby Petrino... no, really, I can't get enough Petrino jokes, even though it's been a few seasons.
- Georgia. I really like what Jeremy Pruitt is trying to do on defense, and the Dawgs are more than talented enough to win every game, but Brian Schottenheimer would scare the pants off of me if I were in Athens. Can't you just see Schottenheimer keeping All-Everything running back Nick Chubb on the sidelines while he calls a complicated pro route combo for a quarterback who couldn't win the starting job at Virginia? At a critical juncture in the fourth quarter against Auburn, Florida, or South Carolina? Yeah, there's a reason Georgia fans were yelling at Bobo to "run the FULMERIZED ball."
- Tennessee. The Vols have good young talent, but some key positions lack depth, including quarterback, offensive line, and cornerback-- a rash of injuries would absolutely decimate this team. I wouldn't read too much into the passing yardage given up against Bowling Green-- I charted the game for an article coming out tomorrow, and the secondary played pretty vanilla the whole game. Still, it's worth noting how much worse Tennessee looked without Todd Kelly, Jr. at safety. (Also Colton Jumper, bless his heart, needs to be practicing his pass coverage all week or Joe Mixon is going to eat his lunch.)
- LSU. SEC officials canceled the opening game on Saturday, depriving everyone of 1/14th of a full season of DACOACHO VISIT DA LOOZIAN ANNA EAT DA CRAWFISH. That's a travesty, but the Bayou Bengals still have the Hat and a boatload of blue chip recruits. As good as Texas A&M's defense looked against Arizona State, it's a concern that the LSU pass rush was awful last year with John Chavis calling the defensive plays. I don't think Kevin "hey WV just scored again" Steele is the answer. Ed Orgeron may be DADEECOORDINATORO by mid-season.
- TAMU. Before the first week of games, I wrote, "The offense will be awesome but one-dimensional. The defense will be better, but the Chief isn't Jesus. You can't fix a lack of heart or toughness in one off-season." Then the game against Arizona State happened, so... maybe I was wrong? They're certainly talented enough.
- Ole Miss. Before anyone gets his or her panties in a wad, the Rebels are likely to be awesome up and until someone important gets hurt. The problem with Ole Miss is that as constructed, there isn't enough quality depth to get through the grueling SEC West schedule. Last year's first team offense and defense were fantastic until players started leaving the field on carts. In case you're wondering why this applies to the Rebels and not to the Volunteers: 1) the SEC East doesn't have Alabama and LSU and 2) there are a number of Tennessee freshman sitting on the bench who would be forced into starting roles for Ole Miss. That's depth.
- Arkansas.-- Ranking the Hogs this low is the kind of thing that looks stupid after Saturday's game. But Arkansas lost a bunch of really quality players on defense without much of a plan to replace them, and it's not a foregone conclusion that the passing game is fixed. The Razorbacks will be extremely dangerous if you let them get ahead and pound you into paste like old school Nebraska. But, any school that throws the ball successfully in the first half will be free to laugh in the second half while Bielema chokes on a chicken wing trying to keep his blood sugar up.
- South Carolina. The Gamecocks, the Other Other Tigers, and the Cowbells could really be in any order here, because all three teams are good on one side of the ball and mediocre on the other. For South Carolina, presumed starting quarterback Connor Mitch had one of the worst stat lines of any quarterback from week one (9-22 for 122 = hot garbage) and Pharoh Cooper can't play every other position on offense (although he might try). However, the defense looked reasonably competent and the Gamecocks will probably improve enough to be dangerous late in the season.
- Mizzou. It's true that bloggers, opposing fans, and the general public keep underestimating Gary Pinkel and his team from the nicer Columbia, but the Other Other Tigers can't keep replacing experienced players with callow freshmen and sophomores and expect it to work. For the second year in a row, Mizzou is replacing all of the starting wide receivers, and the defensive line took a hit when Harold Brantley broke his leg in an off-season car accident. Maty Mauk looked pretty good against SEMO, but if running back Russel Hansbrough misses any time, the offense is likely to struggle.
- Cowbell. Mississippi State wasn't as talented as they appeared last year, and being a tough, disciplined team only gets you so far in the SEC West. Dan Mullen received a huge deal to stay in Starkville, but now he has his work cut out for him. Winning a few more recruiting battles against LSU, Auburn, Ole Miss, and Alabama would be a good start.
- Florida. Hung 65 points on poor old New Mexico State, but I'm not buying it.
- Kentucky. I expected significantly better out of Mark Stoops' year three defense. I guess it shouldn't have surprised me, seeing how the same group sat on their hands while quarterback Drew Barker was getting sucker punched in a late night altercation at Eastern Kentucky.
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- Vanderbilt. The defense looked vastly improved, and Western Kentucky is no pushover. However, I can't imagine Anchor of Gold is too happy about seeing new offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig's offense fail to move the ball consistently.