Well, it's been a fun ride, but the SEC championship matchup will be officially decided over the next two weeks. Florida can sew up the East this weekend by beating Georgia, which, let's be honest, everyone pretty much expects them to do at this point. Alabama, meanwhile, can unofficially punch their own ticket if they beat Mississippi State this weekend and LSU in Baton Rouge the week after that. I say "unofficially" because they could still blow it by losing to both Teas A&M and Auburn, but you'd have a better chance hitting the Powerball lottery jackpot than hoping for that.
The full poll will be tallied, as usual, at Team Speed Kills on Wednesday.
1. Alabama — You can pretty much measure where you're at in the SEC football season by which milestone Alabama has hit. We're at the point where everybody's bowl projections have "Alabama vs. [insert other team here]" in the BCS National Championship, so it must be Week 8.
2. Florida — My dad said on Sunday that, in marked contrast to the Fun 'n' Gun years, this year's Florida team is no fun at all to watch. I don't know: If your defense can force the other team into so many catastrophic errors that you can ring up a 33-point victory despite amassing only 183 net yards of offense, that sounds kind of awesome to me.
3. LSU — Even as they were falling behind 12-0 at Texas A&M, in the back of my mind I was completely convinced Les Miles would find a way to pull it out. Probably says more about Les than about his team, but a win's a win.
4. South Carolina — Pretty much received the same treatment in the Swamp that they dished out to Georgia in Columbia a couple weeks ago. Yup, it sucks.
5. Mississippi State — A big drop-off from No. 4 to No. 5 here, as the Bizarro Bulldogs have streaked to 7-0 without playing a single ranked team. And the first one they'll face is Alabama this weekend. Hope you've enjoyed the last couple months, fellas.
6. Texas A&M — What did we learn from Saturday's game? One guy nicknamed Johnny Football is still no match for 11 guys nicknamed Bobby Kick-Ass Defense.
7. Georgia — If this were a résumé or schedule-based poll the way a lot of people treat the AP or coaches' polls, I'd be more inclined to follow the unwritten "You never punish a team for winning" rule. But this is a power poll, where I'm focusing on how good each team looks week to week. And the sad fact is the Bulldogs (other than Aaron Murray and a few of the receivers, of course) played like hot garbage against Kentucky Saturday night. If they brought that game on a neutral field, I'm confident they'd lose to all six of the teams I have ranked above them.
8. Arkansas — They get a bye-week bounce now that it looks like they actually give a rip.
9. Vanderbilt — I'd rank them higher, but they just let Auburn hang around way too long . . . and I'm not even sure I'm joking.
10. Tennessee — My significant other, a proud Tennessee alumna, officially lost her last bit of patience with Derek Dooley when he kicked a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 4, down 44-10 with four minutes left to go in the game. I can't say I blame her. You can't use "He landed in a bad situation in Knoxville" as an excuse for something like that; that was just a bitch move.
11. Ole Miss — It's been a fun ride for Hugh Freeze so far in his first year, but look at that schedule: The Rebels could conceivably go oh-fer the rest of the season.
12. Missouri — The Tigers should win this weekend against Kentucky, but even if they do, they've got to split their November games (Syracuse at home, Florida, Tennessee and A&M on the road) just to make a bowl. Probably not how they thought their first season in the SEC was going to go.
13. Kentucky — Give 'em this much, they showed some heart against Georgia. But I still think they go winless in the SEC this year.
14. Auburn — The loss to Vandy dropped Auburn to 0-5 in SEC play and from 116th to 119th in the nation in total offense. Much obliged, Tulane!