I'll still proclaim the SEC as the nation's best conference to anyone who'll listen, but after this past week I may start sweating and pulling nervously on my collar as I say it. Below LSU and Alabama, you've got a pretty decent Arkansas team that was off last week, and below them you've got nine teams that played like various degrees of panko-breaded ass on Saturday. At this rate, if I was the coach of one of the teams still in contention for the East Division crown, I might seriously consider a deal whereby I forfeit the conference title game to either Bama or LSU in exchange for an auto-bid to the Outback Bowl. (Admit it, South Carolina and Florida fans, you'd totally take that right now.)
Full ballot after the jump, and look for the tallied results at Team Speed Kills later on in the week.
1. LSU -- Took a while to get going against Tennessee, but I can't really ding them too hard for that, not with their résumé.
2. Alabama -- I moved LSU to the top spot after their opening-day win over Oregon and kept them there as they kept beating ranked teams. Still, Alabama has looked every bit the Tigers' equal, perhaps better, as they've racked up victories right along with them. The way Bama's defense has been straight-up murdering people the last few weeks, they could reclaim the No. 1 ranking at any point.
3. Arkansas -- For a team coming off three straight games against ranked opponents, it sure feels like the Razorbacks have had as nondescript a first half of the season as anyone in the conference. They might remain completely below the radar until they head to Baton Rouge the day after Thanksgiving.
4. Georgia -- Yeah, they're above South Carolina. This is a power poll, and right now I think Georgia would beat the Lattimore-less Gamecocks on a neutral field. Nevertheless, it says something about the state of the SEC East that a team that played the craptastic game Georgia did this past weekend can be placed at the top of the division.
5. Auburn -- Somehow 5-2 despite being demonstrably lousy on both sides of the ball. Has anyone told Gene Chizik's firstborn son Cally about the deal his dad made with a certain prince of lies? 'Cause that's gonna be an awkward conversation.
6. South Carolina -- Over the past few weeks, the Gamecock offense had barely been making any progress with Marcus Lattimore in the lineup. Without him, they may be lucky just to make it back to the Peach Bowl.
7. Florida -- You have to cut the Gators some slack both for their injuries and the schedule they've played, but still, egad. If they can't continue their hex over Georgia in two weeks, all of a sudden bowl eligibility becomes a dicey proposition.
8. Vanderbilt -- I'll give 'em credit for never saying die, at least. Though someone might want to remind James Franklin that it's OK to say die once the game is actually, you know, over.
9. Tennessee -- The Vols wouldn't have beaten LSU or Alabama even with Tyler Bray in the lineup, but not having him for that game against the suddenly vulnerable Gamecocks is already causing some pangs of regret in some of the UT fans I know.
10. Mississippi State -- With Kentucky, Ole Miss and a I-AA left on the schedule, they'll get back to a bowl game, but there's definitely going to be some retooling in Starkville in the offseason.
11. Ole Miss -- Well, you scored first against Alabama, at least. Maybe that can be a bullet point for Houston Nutt's résumé when he starts applying for jobs in a few weeks.
12. Kentucky -- Jacksonville State is 5-1 right now, so if they could beat last year's Ole Miss squad, they can certainly beat this year's Kentucky team.