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MrSEC.com Power Rankings – 11/27/13

mrsec-power-rankingsWith the final regular-season weekend of SEC play set to kickoff tomorrow, we thought we’d get a jump on this week’s MrSEC.com Power Rankings.  Below you’ll find our quickie views on every team in the conference based on what they’ve accomplished and where they currently sit in the league’s standings.

As usual, we’ve assigned each league team to one of four categories… and one of those categories has been re-named in a salute to tomorrow’s holiday.  Please remember that schools are listed alphabetically within each category.

There’s been some shifting this week as the good squads have continued to separate themselves from the bad…

 

National Title Contender

Alabama (11-0 overall, 7-0 SEC) — Kudos Nick Saban’s team for exceeding our expectations.  We didn’t foresee the Tide avoiding injury and bad luck for a third-consecutive year — two things that must be avoided in order to compete for a national crown.  The Tide struggled mightily against Texas A&M back in September, allowing 42 points to the Aggies.  Bama has only allowed 50 points in the nine games since that day in College Station.  Think about that.

Auburn (10-1 overall, 6-1 SEC) — Gus Malzahn has gotten maximum results from his Tigers in his first year back on the Plains and he deserves much consideration for SEC Coach of the Year honors.  But.  When it comes to the Iron Bowl, there will be some Tiger fans out there who’ll view 2013 as a let down if Malzahn can’t put the cherry on top of the season with an upset of Bama.  And, yes, those folks would be nuts, but we are talking about the Iron Bowl here.  If AU can spring the upset, we could see the biggest “surprise!” SEC Championship Game ever…

Missouri (10-1 overall, 6-1 SEC) — That’s because the only guy with a better Coach of the Year resume than Malzahn might be waiting on the other sideline in Atlanta.  Missouri — a much more physical team than people give them credit for — will attempt to lock up an SEC East title against Texas A&M on Saturday.  The Aggie offense can certainly provide problems, but it’s hard to imagine A&M’s defense stopping Mizzouri (or anyone else).  If Gary Pinkel’s team protects the football, pencil the Tigers into the title game in just their second year in the league.

 

Top 25 Contender

LSU (8-3 overall, 7-0 SEC) — OK, we didn’t see that coming.  We picked LSU, yes, but a 34-10 pasting of Texas A&M?  The Aggies had scored 40 on every other team they’d played and the Tigers had already lost to Georgia, Ole Miss and Alabama.  As can be said about a couple of injury-riddled teams in the league, fans on the Bayou have to wonder what 2013 might have looked like had 10 underclassmen not left early for the pro game last year.

South Carolina (9-2 overall, 6-2 SEC) — If you want to play the “what if” game, consider where Carolina might be had it not fallen on a last-second field goal to Tennessee.  USC would be in the top five and very much alive in the national championship picture (with a break or two).  Steve Spurrier’s team might not be dominant, but it is battle-tested: nine-point loss to Georgia, three-point win over UCF, seven-point win over Kentucky, two-point loss to Tennessee, three-point overtime win over Missouri, five-point win over Florida.  The Cocks may not be great, but they’re obviously awfully darn good.

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MrSEC.com Power Rankings – 11/21/13

mrsec-power-rankingsTwelve weeks — three full months of football — are in the books.  Just two weeks of regular-season play remain.  As we wind down the season, we’re getting a clearer picture of which teams really do have championship mettle.  And which teams are destined to find themselves in the SEC cellar.

Below are our weekly rankings of the league’s best and worst teams.  We assign each team to one of four different categories based on what they’ve accomplished to date and what we believe their ceilings to be at this moment.  Inside each category, teams are simply listed alphabetically.

Here goes…

 

National Title Contender

Alabama (10-0 overall, 7-0 SEC) — Even after a sub-par 20-7 yawner of a win over Mississippi State, it’s still pretty obvious that Alabama is once again the class of the SEC.  It isn’t easy to catch year after year after year all of the breaks that championship teams need to reach the summit.  Bama has avoided major injury again, too.  If you’re looking for a model college football program, Alabama is it.  (Although the best football program in the land shouldn’t stoop to playing FCS Chattanooga this weekend.)

Auburn (10-1 overall, 6-1 SEC) — It took a miracle Hail Mary but Auburn is still alive in the national championship hunt.  The Tigers slipped by Georgia 43-38 last week and they certainly had some success through the air (not counting the last-minute, tipped TD bomb).  But there’s no question that Gus Malzahn’s team is built to run first.  AU has an open date to figure out what to do if Bama can slow the Tiger ground game next weekend.

Missouri (9-1 overall, 5-1 SEC) — Here’s the bad thing: If Missouri loses either of its last two games, some will claim that Gary Pinkel and his team choked away a title shot.  Actually, Mizzou just happens to have a heckuva difficult final two-game stretch.  Saturday’s game at Ole Miss might actually be trickier than MU’s finale with Texas A&M (and who would have thought that back in August).  Win both games and Mizzou will reach the SEC Championship Game before Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Kentucky.  Ad that would no doubt  tick off fans of Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Kentucky

 

Top 25 Contender

LSU (7-3 overall, 3-3 SEC) — How tough is the SEC?  Look at the teams in this Top 25 Contender category.  Starting with LSU, the Tigers boast an improved offense and a talented (but youthful) defense.  With a loss to Texas A&M Saturday, Les Miles’ squad could fall to 8-4.  In any other league, the Tigers might’ve been a 10-win team.

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MrSEC.com Power Rankings – 11/14/13

mrsec-power-rankingsAh, the stretch run is here.  Teams are jockeying for position.  Two teams remain alive in the SEC West.  Three teams still have title dreams in the SEC East.  And while some squads are boosting their bowl chances (Vanderbilt), others are starting bowl-free holiday right in the face (Florida).

Below are our up-to-date Power Rankings.  As always, we break the league’s teams down into four categories.  We base our evaluations on what each team has accomplished to date and what we believe their ceiling to be with their remaining schedule.  Inside each category, teams are listed alphabetically.

Your official MrSEC.com Power Rankings, everyone…

 

National Title Contender

Alabama (9-0 overall, 6-0 SEC) – What more needs to be said?  Nick Saban’s squad has been improving as the season has worn on and that came to fruition in the second half of last Saturday’s win over LSU.  Thumping the Tigers for the game’s final 21 points?  Impressive.  No offense to Mississippi State, but this year’s Iron Bowl is shaping up to be a dandy.

Auburn (8-1 overall, 5-1 SEC) — Have you heard that this year’s Iron Bowl is shaping up to be a dandy?  Auburn has thrown 16 passes in its last two games combined and still scored 80 points.  It might be a shootout with Georgia, but the Tigers are clearly the favorites to keep their BCS title hopes alive for another week.

Missouri (9-1 overall, 5-1 SEC) — Things aren’t done and dusted for the Tigers just yet.  They’ve got an open date to get their minds and bodies right before one of the most important two-game stretches in school history.  First comes a trip to Ole Miss and then a visit from Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M.  That’s not an easy path.  Neither is a date in the SEC title game against Alabama or Auburn should Mizzou navigate November cleanly.  But at 9-1, yep, the Tigers are national title contenders.  Great work by Gary Pinkel this year.

 

Top 25 Contender

Georgia (6-3 overall, 4-2 SEC) — Despite all the injuries, Mark Richt’s team still has a slight hope of winning the SEC East against the year.  But the Dawgs face Auburn this weekend and then — after a game with Kentucky — they’ll take on a Georgia Tech squad that’s currently 6-3.  UGA could finish anywhere from 9-3 in the top 15 to unranked at 7-5.

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MrSEC.com Power Rankings – 11/7/13

mrsec-power-rankingsThere’s one month to go in the SEC regular season and the wheat, as they say, is being separated from the chaff.  As is our usual Thursday custom, below we tell you who exactly we believe to be wheat and who we believe to be chaff.

There’s been plenty of movement this week.  A total of four teams have slud (tip o’ the cap to Dizzy Dean) up or down our chart this week.

So here now are our latest MrSEC.com Power Rankings.  We assign each team in the SEC to one of four different categories, from BCS title contender to SEC cellar dweller.  Our rankings are based upon two things — what each team has accomplished so far and what we believe each team’s ceiling to be at this moment.  (All schools within a category are alphabetized.)

Here goes…

 

National Title Contender

Alabama (8-0 overall, 5-0 SEC) — The Crimson Tide boast two really good wins over Virginia Tech and Texas A&M.  Those games were played back in September.  Saturday Bama will lace ‘em up for what’s become the SEC’s premier rivalry in recent years.  If Bama gets past LSU at Bryant-Denny Stadium, they should cruise into the Iron Bowl undefeated with a BCS title shot on the line.  Now, this Tide team doesn’t look as powerful as last year’s squad, but that’s like saying “The Godfather Part II” is a tad shy of “The Godfather.”  You’re picking some serious nits at that point.

Auburn (8-1 overall, 4-1 SEC) — Moving up a slot are Gus Malzahn’s Tigers.  They, too, have a win over A&M under their belts.  They’re as hot as any team in the country right now and have piled up five consecutive victories.  Their only loss came at LSU back in mid-September.  It’s been a few weeks since anyone’s shared our top category with Bama, but Auburn should be favored against Tennessee and Georgia in its next two games.  Win those and AU could face UA for the West Division title, an SEC Championship Game berth, and a potential spot in the BCS title game.

 

Top 25 Contender

Georgia (5-3 overall, 4-2 SEC) — Another team jumping up a category.  UGA’s third win in a row over Florida snapped a two-game losing streak for the 2013 Bulldogs.  The Silver Britches are still alive for the East Division crown, though they’ll need some help.  There are two losable games still on Georgia’s schedule: Auburn and Georgia Tech.  Lose one and fans might accept a four-loss season considering the spate of injuries Georgia has faced.  Lose both and there’ll be no spinning a five-loss regular season.

LSU (7-2 overall, 3-2 SEC) — With two losses the Tigers are out of the national title picture.  Their SEC hopes are probably doomed as well.  Still a win at Alabama this weekend would vault the Tigers back into BCS at-large contention.  Having lost the vast majority of its defense coming into the season, that’d be a pretty good body of work come mid-November.  Don’t sleep on Les Miles’ team on Saturday night, either.

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MrSEC.com Power Rankings – 10/31/13

mrsec-power-rankingsHere’s a Halloween scare for you: There’s only one more month of regular-season college football games remaining.  Spooky, huh?  We’ve made a blink-of-an-eye jump from Labor Day to All Hallows’ Eve, or at least it seems that way to those of us here at MrSEC.  One day we’re filing preseason prognostications and the next we’re breaking down division races and tie-breakers.

Today we engage in our usual Thursday ritual, the posting of the MrSEC.com Power Rankings.  But after last week’s disappointing slate of games, there have been few changes.  As always, we assign each of the SEC’s 14 football programs to one of four categories.  Those assignments are based upon teams’ accomplishments to date as well as our thoughts on each team’s current ceiling.  And remember, teams are listed alphabetically within each category.

Here goes…

 

National Title Contender

Alabama (8-0 overall, 5-0 SEC) — The top-ranked Crimson Tide gets a breather this week, but it sure doesn’t look necessary.  Bama has won its last six games by a combined score of 246-26.  That’s average victory of 41-4.  The eye test still says this year’s Alabama teams isn’t quite as good as last year’s edition, but the Tide is plenty good enough to win the SEC and possibly another BCS crown.  LSU next week should provide a better test.

 

Top 25 Contender

Auburn (7-1 overall, 3-1 SEC) — The Tigers are the surprise team in the SEC West.  While Gus Malzahn was expected to have more-first year success than the other new coaches in the league, no one but hopingest hopefuls on the Plains would have projected this much success.  Quarterback Nick Marshall is banged up for the second time this season.  AU needs to find a way to keep its trigger man healthy.

LSU (7-2 overall, 3-2 SEC) — Les Miles’ team dozed through the first half of last week’s 48-16 win over Furman.  As we’ve noted on the site, quarterback Zach Mettenberger has been a bit more careless with the football in recent weeks.  Next week Miles will face off yet again with Nick Saban, the man he replaced in Baton Rouge.  During this open week, the Tigers had better find themselves again before heading to Tuscaloosa.

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MrSEC.com Power Rankings – 10/24/13

mrsec-power-rankingsUpset Saturday waylaid a number of highly-ranked SEC teams last weekend.  Florida, Georgia, LSU, S0uth Carolina and Texas A&M all lost.  Missouri won.  Won big.  Surprisingly big over a ranked foe.  Tennessee got up off the deck for the first time in 19 contests against ranked opponents.  Ole Miss went from the infirmary to the win column in shocking fashion.  Vanderbilt revived its bowl hopes.  And Auburn announced its presence on the national scene.

So with all that commotion, how do our MrSEC.com Power Rankings look as we speed into Week Nine?  Our weekly four-category breakdown of the league is below.  As usual, we assign each team to a different category based on what that team’s done to date and what we believe its actual ceiling to be.  Inside those categories, the teams are listed alphabetically.

Naturally, there’s been some shuffling from last week to this.  Matter of fact, we’ve never had more shuffling in our rankings.  Find out if your favorite team rose or fell below…

 

National Title Contender

Alabama (7-0 overall, 4-0 SEC) — Last week’s bloodshed left the SEC with just one prime contender for the BCS title.  Alabama has last five games by a combined score of 201-16.  That’s victory by an average score of 40-3.  This week the Tide get a visit from old rival Tennessee, but odds are it will be yet another Bama blowout.  The problem with judging Nick Saban’s club by its recent success is that the combined record of UA’s last five opponents is just 11-24.  Next weekend will bring a visit from 6-2 LSU.  Then we’ll learn just how much Alabama has progressed from its wide open 49-42 win over Texas A&M on September 14th.  For now, Bama stands alone as the SEC’s best chance for an eighth straight national crown.

 

Top 25 Contender

Auburn (6-1 overall, 3-1 SEC) — Gus Malzahn said after his team’s win at Texas A&M that the Tigers still haven’t arrived.  Maybe not, but beating Johnny Manziel on the road should serve notice that it’s at least time to switch off electronic devices and put seats and tray tables back into their upright positions.  AU’s remaining schedule consists of FAU, Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama.  The Tigers figure to be favored in each of those games but the last one.  And in case you haven’t noticed, Nick Marshall is becoming more than just a running quarterback.

LSU (6-2 overall, 3-2 SEC) — Last week the Tigers were breathing rarefied air alongside Alabama.  A 27-24 upset loss at Ole Miss led to their tumble down our chart.  LSU allowed 500+ yards of offense to the Rebels, but that could have been just a one-game glitch.  More troubling is the recent play of Zach Mettenberger.  The senior QB had completed 68% of his passes for 15 scores and just two interceptions through six games.  The last two weeks his numbers have dropped to 56% completions, one touchdown and three INTs.  The Tigers need to improve on defense and they need for Mettenberger to recapture his early-season form.

Missouri (7-0 overall, 3-0 SEC) — Wow.  If there’s a surprise team in the SEC this year it’s the bunch from Columbia.  Which is more impressive: The 7-0 record?  The big win at Georgia?  Or the bigger win at home against what had been a good Florida defense?  Whatever stands out to you, there’s no doubt that Gary Pinkel is in line for Coach of the Year honors if his team continues to surprise.  But Mizzou’s not out of the woods yet.  They lead the East Division by two games, but they still have dates with South Carolina (Saturday), Tennessee, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Texas A&M.  There are still some potential stumbling blocks on MU’s route to Atlanta.

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MrSEC.com Power Rankings – 10/17/13

mrsec-power-rankingsIt’s Thursday and that means it’s time for our latest MrSEC.com Power Rankings.  Below you’ll find each SEC program placed neatly into one of four categories.  Inside those categories, the teams are simply listed alphabetically.

Our category assignments are based on each team’s achievements to date as well as what we believe each squad’s “ceiling” to be at this very moment.

 

National Title Contender

Alabama (6-0 overall, 3-0 SEC) — One big question: Has Alabama hit its stride or have the Tide simply been benefiting from a weak recent schedule?  Nick Saban’s up-and-down squad has looked the nation’s best over its last two-and-a-half games (Ole Miss second half, Georgia State, Kentucky).  None of those teams has a winning record.  With games against Arkansas and Tennessee over the next two Saturdays, it’s entirely possible that Bama will enter its November 9th showdown with LSU still looking to put its offense and defense together for four full quarters against a good foe.  That certainly hasn’t happened yet.

LSU (6-1 overall, 3-1 SEC) — The Tigers will have to go on the road this week to face long-time rival, Ole Miss.  Les Miles’ team brought the thunder last Saturday against Florida, winning an old-school slobberknocker with defense and a good ground game.  Mississippi’s offense is more explosive than the Gators’, so Zach Mettenberger and crew had better bring their A game.  As usual, it looks like the SEC’s West Division title will go to the winner of LSU/Bama in three weeks.

 

Top 25 Contender

Auburn (5-1 overall, 2-1 SEC) — Gus Malzahn’s team faced one of the worst teams in the FCS level last week in Western Carolina.  This week the competition will be a bit more difficult.  AU travels to #7 Texas A&M to face Johnny Manziel.  The Tigers have only beaten one team with a winning record (Washington State, 4-3) so it’s a bit early to lump them in with the championship contenders.  Of course, if they pull an upset in College Station…

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MrSEC.com Power Rankings – 10/10/13

mrsec-power-rankingsEach week throughout the 2013 football season, we here at MrSEC.com will provide you with our views on each of the SEC’s best and worst football teams.  Rather than give you the run-of-the-mill #1 through #14 ranking, we separate the league’s squads into four different categories.  (Inside those categories, the teams area listed alphabetically.)

Our category assignments are based on each team’s achievements to date as well as what we believe each squad’s ceiling to be at this moment.

Here’s how we see things stacking up as we roll into Weekend #7 of SEC football.  A heads-up: There’s been some major moves up and down the ladder this week…

 

National Title Contender

Alabama (5-0 overall, 2-0 SEC) — Look, we learned absolutely nothing about the Crimson Tide in their whipping of outmanned Georgia State last weekend.  It was a waste of a Saturday and the kind of game that SEC programs — and everyone else in the big leagues — should avoid.  This week, Bama should get a bit better test at Kentucky.  That doesn’t mean UK will win, but an SEC road game should prove more challenging than a home game against a creampuff.  For now, Bama stays put in our rankings.

LSU (5-1 overall, 2-1 SEC) — Yours truly picked the Tigers to surprise in the SEC West, expecting John Chavis’ young defense to improve as the season unfolds.  Well, they better hurry up on the improving front.  The Tigers have allowed more than 437 yards of total offense in each of their three SEC games (Auburn, Georgia and Mississippi State).  Though the offense might be the best of the Les Miles’ era, that defense — for so long a hallmark of Tiger football — appears to LSU’s Achilles’ Heel.  We’ll learn more about them when they host Florida and new dual-threat quarterback Tyler Murphy on Saturday afternoon.

 

Top 25 Contender

Auburn  (4-1 overall, 2-1 SEC) — Yep, we’ve done gone and promoted Gus Malzahn’s bunch.  Last week’s win over Ole Miss was a separation game and AU moved in the right direction.  Keep an eye, however, on the knee of starting quarterback Nick Marshall.  After injuring it late against the Rebels, his status for Saturday’s game against Western Carolina is questionable.  While we don’t foresee the Catamounts besting Auburn, the Tigers will travel to Texas A&M the following week.  Marshall should be healed up by then, but anytime an SEC starting quarterback has a knee injury we get spooked.

Florida (4-1 overall, 3-0 SEC) — Speaking of quarterbacks, we’ll finally get to see new Gator starter Tyler Murphy go up against one of the league’s top programs (even if LSU’s defense has been sketchy in conference play).  Since spelling an injured Jeff Driskel in the Tennessee game, Murphy has completed 39-of-54 passes for 530 yards (a great yards-per-attempt average) and five touchdowns against only one interception.  His QB rating is a robust 181.52.  On top of that, he’s also added 135 yards on the ground along with two more TDs.  The Gators already have the nation’s second-ranked defense… if Murphy and the offense can continue to pull their weight we might have to bump UF up a level.

Georgia (4-1 overall, 3-0 SEC) — We really liked this year’s Bulldog team.  In terms of offensive weaponry, UGA looked more like a Big 12 team than an SEC squad.  But we’re having to drop them down a notch this week.  Yes, they have continued to claw out victories despite the loss of key playmakers.  And, yes, part of our rankings criteria is what a team has accomplished to date.  We also look at each squad’s potential, however, and with so much attrition it’s hard to list the Dawgs as a BCS title contender at the moment.  Let’s see how they handle Missouri on Saturday.  If they pull out another one, we may slide them back into the top category.

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MrSEC.com Power Rankings – 10/3/13

mrsec-power-rankingsEach week throughout the 2013 football season we here at MrSEC.com will provide you with our views on each of the SEC’s best and worst football teams.  But rather than give you a boring #1 through #14 ranking, we’ll instead assign each team to one of four categories.  (In side those categories schools will be listed alphabetically.)  Our category assignments are based upon how well each team has played, what they’ve accomplished to date, and what we believe each squad’s ceiling to be at this moment.

Now here’s how we see things shaking out at this point…

 

National Title Contender

Alabama (4-0 overall, 2-0 SEC) — Finally.  It took a month of football, but the Crimson Tide finally put together what could reasonably be called a complete game.  Sure the offense didn’t fire on all cylinders until the second half, but UA’s 25-0 victory over Ole Miss last week was as close as we’ve come to seeing the “old Alabama” team… the team everyone expected to see all year long.  Whether Bama found itself or it will continue to be inconsistent is yet to be seen.

Georgia (3-1 overall, 2-0 SEC) –  There are two units in the SEC that were highly-touted in the preseason and have lived up to expectations.  One of those units: Georgia’s offense.  The Bulldogs put 35 points on Clemson (despite key injuries suffered during that road game).  They bit South Carolina and Jadeveon Clowney for 41 points.  An on Saturday that stepped on the Tigers’ tails, besting LSU 44-41.   That’s 120 points in three games against top 10 opponents.   Now if UGA could only find a defense.

LSU (4-1 overall, 1-1 SEC) — Saturday was a wake-up call for LSU’s defense.  After performing pretty well with new faces all over the lineup, John Chavis’ crew was smoked by Aaron Murray and Georgia.  As noted above, there’s no shame in that.  Just room for improvement.  But that one loss on the road by a field goal to a top 10 team hasn’t scuppered LSU’s BCS Championship hopes.  In a year when everything seems to be leaning toward offense, Cam Cameron’s in Baton Rouge appears as strong as any thanks to the stellar play of quarterback Zach Mettenberger.

 

Top 25 Contender

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MrSEC.com Power Rankings – 9/26/13

mrsec-power-rankingsEach week throughout the 2013 football season we here at MrSEC.com will provide you with our views on the SEC’s best and worst football teams.  But rather than give you a boring #1 through #14 ranking, we’ll instead assign each team to one of four different categories.  (Inside those categories schools will be listed alphabetically.)  Our category assignments are based upon how well each team is playing, what they’ve accomplished to date, and what we believe each squad’s ceiling to be at this moment.

Here’s how we see things shaking out at this point; plenty of movement from last weekend…

 

National Title Contender

Alabama (3-0 overall, 1-0 SEC) — In terms of who in the SEC has accomplished the most so far, it’s the Crimson Tide.  There’s no FCS win on their ledger.  They have two wins over BCS-level competition and both of those teams (Virginia Tech and Texas A&M have three wins on the season).  Obviously, the Tide isn’t rising to last year’s heights yet.  Bama’s offense and defense have yet to show up on the same day.  This week’s game with Ole Miss will be telling as either a “get well” game or another reason for UA fans to fret.

Georgia (2-1 overall, 1-0 SEC) — Like most teams in the SEC last week, the Bulldogs looked like they had little interest in playing last Saturday.  But UGA’s offense has looked so good previously we’ll forgive them of that sloppy outing last weekend.  Having already rolled up 500+ yards on Clemson and South Carolina, Aaron Murray and crew will likely get theirs against LSU on Saturday.  But will the defense be able to slow the Tigers at all?

LSU (4-0 overall, 1-0 SEC) — The other team in this week’s showcase SEC matchup enters on a four-game roll.  The Tigers controlled last week’s game with Auburn and never appeared to be in jeopardy of losing.  Still Gus Malzahn’s crew fought back to within 14 (and almost seven by game’s end) and the could be lesson for the young Tigers: Don’t let up.  If LSU wins on Saturday, they’ll finish off Georgia’s BCS hopes.  If the Dawgs win, the Tigers may still be listed in our top category next Thursday.

 

Top 25 Contender

Ole Miss (3-0 overall, 1-0 SEC) — An SEC road win at Vandy.  A 21-point road win at Texas.  That’s a nothing-to-sneeze-at kind of start for Hugh Freeze’s second batch of Rebels.  Last season, Ole Miss showed the a no-huddle attack could at least move the ball against Alabama’s defense (a point Texas A&M later hammered home).  This year, Bama’s defense looked extremely suspect at College Station two weeks ago.  So as Reb quarterback Bo Wallace would tell you, on paper it looks like Saturday’s game could be a tight one.  Win it and Mississippi will start getting a lot more love on the national level.

South Carolina (2-1 overall, 1-1 SEC) — The Gamecocks offense has been firing on all cylinders in 2013.  On the ground, in the air, USC has had no problems scoring.  But Saturday shapes up as a bit of a trap game.  Central Florida is 3-0 (including a 34-31 win at Penn State).  The kickoff will be at noon in hot, sticky Orlando.  The Golden Knights went 10-4 last year and lost to Missouri by five.  In 2010 they beat Georgia in the Liberty Bowl.  If Carolina doesn’t slip up and if LSU can upend Georgia, the Cocks could find themselves right back in the East Division driver’s seat.

Texas A&M (3-1 overall, 0-1 SEC) — When it comes to Johnny Manziel and the Aggie offense, there are no worries.  So long as Johnny Football doesn’t toss too many picks, A&M should be able to put points on anyone and everyone they face.  But on the other side of the ball it’s a different story.  D-coordinator Mark Snyder believes his guys improved last week against SMU.  The reality is that TAMU’s defense has allowed 509 yards to Rice, 390 yards to Sam Houston State, 568 yards to Alabama and 434 yards to SMU.  This week they’ll try to slow Arkansas’ ground attack and improve upon their SEC-worst defense (1901 yards allowed through four games).

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