It’s officially past the week four mark which means I trust the stability of the results and metrics and wipe away the preseason weights entirely. Usually, this can result in substantial shakeups, so let’s see how it’s affected the SEC Power Rankings heading into week six.
1. Georgia Bulldogs | 5-0 | 24.3116 points (#4 overall)
Week Five Result: 27-20 W @ Auburn
It was another hard fought conference win for Georgia, but with preseason weights gone, it’s no longer the Dawgs on top. Washington and Texas have passed Kirby and co. but they still rule the roost in the SEC.
Brock Bowers. My god, man. On the day, Bowers posted 8 receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown. Five of those catches for 136 yards and the touchdown came on Georgia’s final two drives. All season, I have asked if anyone on this offense outside of Bowers would step up. That still didn’t happen in this game, but it didn’t matter. When you have the best player in the conference on your team, he’s all you need sometimes.
Georgia’s defense has been weirdly pedestrian at times this season. They got gashed on the ground by Auburn, mainly on stretches and sweeps. In games against FBS opponents, Georgia’s defense has been the high mark in yards per carry for Ball State and Auburn, and their advanced metrics against the run are middle of the pack.
2. Alabama Crimson Tide | 4-1 | 23.74399 points (#8)
Week Five Result: 40-17 W @ Mississippi State
After a slow start, Alabama got their run game going against an ailing Mississippi State defense. The Tide defense intercepted Will Rogers three times en route to a blowout 23 point win in Starkville.
Alabama is starting to find their identity: pound the rock, take the ball out of Milroe’s hands...in the passing game at least. With the overwhelming lack of playmakers on the outside, letting the ground game dictate the game has been working in recent weeks for the Tide. It’s far from a great offense, but finding an identity is paramount at the bare minimum.
The Tide defense is also lockdown. They weren’t great against the run in this game, but they have been dominant against the pass all season. A 30.7% passing success rate against is a top five mark in the nation, and they’ve now notched an interception in four of their five games this season. If this unit can shore up against the run, this is the best defense in the nation.
It’s namely just the lack of playmakers. I’ve beaten the dead horse in these rankings for four weeks now, so let this serve as the last time I talk about them until I talk about them again.
3. Ole Miss Rebels | 4-1 | 21.40386 points (#13)
Week Five Result: 55-49 W vs. LSU
It was an old fashioned shootout in Oxford on Saturday night, and despite being down by nine with 8:34 left, Ole Miss’ defense came up with two huge stops that the offense answered with touchdowns. Kiffin and co. entered the game as a touchdown underdog, but between Jaxson Dart and a huge day on the ground, Ole Miss prevailed in a much needed win.
They found Quinshon Judkins’ pulse! The star running back broke out of his early season slump with 177 yards and both a rushing and receiving touchdown. On the day as a whole, Ole Miss rushed for 317 yards and three scores.
Jaxson Dart is definitely having a good year, and he’s doing things that I doubted him on coming into the season, and that was stepping up against the better teams in the league. All of last season, he struggled against any team that remotely had a pulse defensively, and while I still have doubts, this game was a major win for him. Dart completed 26-of-39 passes for 389 yards and four touchdowns, good for a QBR of 91.2. He was 5-of-6 for 104 yards with a rushing and passing touchdown on Ole Miss’ final two drives that won them the game.
In a shootout like this, it’s gotta be the defense, right? They were rough, and they’ve been rough all season. They’re allowing 5.6 yards per play, 73rd in the nation, and their 46.8% passing success rate against is 116th out of 133 teams. Not good! This team could be in a lot of shootouts with the way their defense plays.
4. Tennessee Volunteers | 4-1 | 21.34829 points (#14)
Week Five Result: 41-20 W vs. South Carolina
Tennessee avenged their brutal loss from a season ago with a rout of the Gamecocks in Knoxville. The Vols crushed South Carolina on the ground, and the pressure put on Spencer Rattler was the difference maker all night long.
Tennessee’s pass rush was ruthless all game. South Carolina’s passing game has been held back all season long by their pass protection, and this game was no different. Tennessee racked up six sacks including a pair from sophomore James Pearce Jr, and eight tackles-for-loss. South Carolina ran the ball well, but they put up an inefficient 333 total yards, posting -0.18 EPA/play and a 34% success rate on the day. Kamal Hadden’s pick-six served as the turning point, and the Vols never looked back.
Tennessee’s offense had been suspect to say the least, but getting Cooper Mays back served immediate benefits. Mays is the anchor to this offense at center. He diagnoses pressure, shifts blocking paths and is as invaluable as anyone to this offense. Tennessee rushed for 238 yards on 40 attempts for three touchdowns, by far their best rushing game of the season. All three of Wright, Small, and Sampson found the checkerboards as Tennessee pounded the Gamecocks into submission.
Get well soon, Bru McCoy. An absolute damper to an otherwise awesome night.
The run defense...it’s been better! In the only two games where Tennessee has played a meaningful opponent, they’ve gotten run all over. There were a lot of “empty” yards in this game due to the score, but they have been there both in this game and against Florida. It’s a bad combo to have a struggling run defense with an offense that can struggle to consistently throw the ball at times.
5. Kentucky Wildcats | 5-0 | 20.64513 points (#22)
Week Five Result: 33-14 W vs. Florida
Kentucky beat the brakes off of Florida on Saturday, racking up 329 rushing yards in a dominant win that established them as the top of the middle of the SEC (I mean that as a compliment).
All the talk around Kentucky was basically waiting for them to play someone. Granted, Florida is not a good team, but it’s a definitive step up from what they had been playing, and they worked the Gators for four quarters. Ray Davis, have a day. 26 carries, 280 yards, three touchdowns, 10.8 yards per carry. The Wildcats only attempted 19 passes all day, and they probably didn’t even need to throw 10. Davis continues his solid start to the year with a season defining performance here.
The defense was great, the ground game was excellent...the air attack was rough. Devin Leary on the whole this season has been pretty average, but 9-of-19 for 69 yards is pretty hard to look at. Against better teams in conference play, like Georgia who they play this week, this won’t fly.
6. Texas A&M Aggies | 4-1 | 20.59018 points (#22)
Week Five Result: 34-22 W vs. Arkansas
Texas A&M completed the series win against Arkansas at Jerry World, two out of three, despite missing Conner Weigman, who will miss the remainder of the regular season.
Texas A&M might have a defense. The Aggies front sacked KJ Jefferson seven times on Saturday. Walter Nolen is fully living up to his top prospect billing, tallying 1.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles-for-loss in what’s been a dominant start to conference play for him.
A&M is also running the ball effectively, putting up 413 rushing yards over their first two conference games. With Max Johnson now at QB permanently, they’re going to have to lean on Le’Veon Moss and the ground game a lot more.
There’s not really much bad to touch on here. A&M held Arkansas to 174 total yards of offense and completely stymied the Arkansas ground game to 42 rushing yards. If there’s an area to pick at here, it is QB play. Max Johnson turned the ball over three times (INT, two fumbles), and that was really why the game was even a two score game. That can’t happen against better teams, let alone against Alabama this coming week if they want to have a chance at winning.
7. Missouri Tigers | 5-0 | 19.68577 points (#30)
Week Five Result: 38-21 W @ Vanderbilt
Missouri continues its unbeaten and upward trend, taking down Vanderbilt on Saturday. More consistency on the offensive side of the ball continues to keep their ranking on a steady climb,
Brady Cook has quietly been a top three quarterback in the SEC this season, something we all totally saw coming. Cook has thrown for 11 touchdowns to zero interceptions through five games, and with one good game this week against LSU, he could match or surpass his total of 14 TD passes from a season ago. He’s gone from a liability to strength, and it’s helped aid Luther Burden in his breakout season. Burden has almost doubled his yardage production from last season where he played in 13 games. Burden is blossoming into a top five wideout in all of college football.
They get LSU coming off of a total demolition. Could be bad!
8. LSU Tigers | 3-2 | 19.6696 points (#31)
Week Five Result: 55-49 L @ Ole Miss
Jayden Daniels continues to look like one of the best players in the conference, and Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr. continue to look like two of the better receivers in the SEC. At the end of the day, it was all for nothing, but Daniels notched five total touchdowns, and Thomas caught three TDs. Logan Diggs went over 100 yards and added a couple TDs on the ground.
I can’t remember ever seeing LSU have a defense this bad. They got torched through the air, sure, but they got absolutely bullied up front all night long. Defensive coordinator Matt House and Brian Kelly have been called into question after this performance, and rightfully so. Ole Miss ran whenever they wanted, they passed whenever they wanted, and when LSU was up by nine, they didn’t target Thomas or Nabers one time on their final two drives while the defense let Quinshon Judkins and Jaxson Dart mow right through them and evaporate that lead in minutes. It ranks very highly as the most embarrassing defensive performance of the season.
9. Auburn Tigers | 3-2 | 18.1609 points (#38)
Week Five Result: 27-20 L vs. Georgia
Auburn had Georgia on their heels for a lot of this game, but in the end, they couldn’t stop Brock Bowers. Hugh Freeze and the Tigers have dropped their first two games in SEC play and have now lost eight of their last ten conference games.
10. Florida Gators | 3-2 | 17.93574 points (#44)
Week Five Result: 33-14 L @ Kentucky
To lose this bad on the road against a team you severely out-recruit year in and year out is embarrassing and indicative of all things Billy Napier at Florida. Seriously, how on earth did Tennessee lose to this team?
11. Arkansas Razorbacks | 2-3 | 17.20465 points (#51)
Week Five Result: 34-22 L vs. Texas A&M
For the fourth time in four seasons under Sam Pittman, Arkansas has lost three straight games. A rebuild perpetually in “Road Work Ahead” mode, it’s time for the Hogs to start looking elsewhere for a coach.
12. South Carolina Gamecocks | 2-3 | 16.89605 points (#52)
Week Five Result: 41-20 L @ Tennessee
Speaking of teams that can’t ever seem to get out of the blocks, South Carolina’s response to a surprising 8-5 season in 2022 is to make no adjustments, bring in no formidable line, and continue to let Spencer Rattler run for his life. Shane Beamer has a lot of questions that need answered very soon.
13. Mississippi State Bulldogs | 2-3 | 16.53457 points (#67)
Week Five Result: 40-17 L vs. Alabama
It’s going to be a long year in Starkville.
14. Vanderbilt Commodores | 2-4 | 12.71095 points (#106)
Week Five Result: 38-21 L vs. Missouri
It feels pretty safe to say the Clark Lea trial is reaching its expiration date.