Before you ask, yes, I've still got Alabama ranked No. 1 for the reasons listed below. Make no mistake, though, the Tide's aura of invincibility has been punctured. The real victims here are
Jacksonville State Western Carolina and Auburn, who will be victims of Nick Saban's unholy wrath over the next two weeks. Full poll results will be tallied at Team Speed Kills on Tuesday.
1. Alabama — I still have them ranked No. 1 because this is a power ranking, and I think four times out of five, maybe even nine out of ten, Bama wins that game. But they had the misfortune of facing A&M immediately after a brutally physical game down in Baton Rouge, and the Aggies were the better team for one crucial afternoon. Just goes to show that a team with arguably the most talent in the entire conference can still have an off day, and the way college football is structured, that can be enough to take you out of national-title contention.
2. Texas A&M — Full confession: I thought they'd probably go 5-7 this year. And I still think expansion to 14 teams was a completely unnecessary move for the SEC, but it looks like they got a good one, at least.
3. Georgia — No first-half sleepwalk in Auburn, as the Dawgs took care of business for the full 60. If only Mark Richt could be assured of getting that out of his team for every rivalry game, he might have a couple crystal footballs in his trophy case.
4. LSU — Still have an outside shot at an at-large BCS bid. Not bad for a team that was staring at the Outback Bowl in early October.
5. South Carolina — Spurrier is going to look back on this season someday and wonder what might've happened if he'd done just a couple more ball-protection drills before the Florida game.
6. Florida — I realize I'm placing them below no fewer than three teams they've beaten this season, one of them badly, but . . . does anybody think that the Gator offense in its current state would score more than 14 points apiece on any of the teams ranked above them?
7. Mississippi State — Outscored 113-37 over their last three, and all of a sudden everyone's realized that their best win is probably Middle Tennessee State.
8. Vanderbilt — Their season has been the inverse of Mississippi State's: started slow but just happened to get reeeeal good once they got to stop playing good teams. Still, eight wins from a Vanderbilt team is eight wins from a Vanderbilt team.
9. Ole Miss — So wait: Ole Miss fields its first competitive team in years, they hang with Alabama for a good bit and nearly knock off Texas A&M, but their path to a bowl may have been undone because they still couldn't get over the Vanderbilt hump?
10. Missouri — Back on track for a bowl bid all of a sudden, though only scoring 21 points in regulation against that Tennessee defense counts as a fail.
11. Arkansas — So much for the Razorbacks' nascent, improbable bowl run, unless they can figure out a way to knock off Mississippi State and LSU in consecutive weeks.
12. Tennessee — I love every last member of the Dooley family, and I sincerely wanted Derek to succeed at Tennessee. But the guy had 40 seconds, two timeouts and one Tyler Bray against Mizzou, and instead he chose to play it safe and run out the clock to go to OT. He deserved to lose that game, and he deserves to lose his job.
13. Auburn — I don't know what would horrify me more if I were an Auburn fan: the thought that my team could just give up that completely in a big rivalry game that represented their last best chance to score an SEC win . . . or the thought that they didn't give up, and that really was the best they could do.
14. Kentucky — Thought about dropping Auburn down here, but they got shut out on their home field by fifth-ranked Georgia, while the Wildcats got shut out on their home field by . . . Vanderbilt. Well, hey, at least you're getting a new coach out of it, right, guys?