The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

SEC Power Rankings: Week Six

Kara Sherrer
September 12, 2015: Vanderbilt hosts Georgia at Dudley Field. The Commodores fell to the Bulldogs 31-14. Photo by Kara Scherrer.

Welcome to week six: a week in which Alabama bandwagon fans are plentiful and fans of low-end SEC teams are starting to think, “there’s always next year”.

Although we’ve yet to reach the halfway point in the season, we have learned a lot about this year’s competition in the SEC. Most notably, we’ve come to realize that Georgia seems like the frontrunner in the SEC East, Missouri is really, really bad, and of course, Alabama is in a league of their own.

For fellow Commodore fans, this is a time where you may start to doubt the team’s postseason hopes and dreams. Rest assured, there is still a chance. While the Commodores may be coming off of a two-game skid, it’s important to note that these were against two very dominant, ranked opponents. Winning the SEC East may seem like a longshot, but Vanderbilt is still in early conversations for a bowl game. In order to rebound, they’ve got to show us all what they’re made of against the Georgia Bulldogs this upcoming weekend. Unless they pull of a shocking upset, Georgia will remain in the top tier of this week’s power rankings:

  1. Alabama

Another week, another beatdown by Alabama that separates them even further from the rest of the field. Led early by underrated Heisman candidate quarterback Jalen Hurts who looks better and better each game and a dominant defense that has overpowered every offense that has come its way, it just seems that Alabama will continue to cruise to the national championship.

2. Georgia

Quietly, Georgia has crept its way into the top five of the AP poll with a 41-0 win over SEC opponent Tennessee. Dual-threat quarterback Jake Fromm posted three scores of his own, and running back Nick Chubb had yet another great game with 109 yards rushing on just 16 attempts. Yet, even with continuing strong offensive performances, the bright spot for this Georgia team is clearly its defensive unit, forcing four turnovers. In addition, despite the strong season thus far for Fromm, it was even more promising for this offense to see Sophomore, and ex-five star recruit, quarterback Jacob Eason come back into the game, even briefly, off of injury.

3. Auburn

With just one eight-point, loss to a Clemson Tigers team that is now ranked second in the country, the Auburn Tigers have looked incredibly strong. Despite the fact that they struggled offensively against Clemson, since then they have clearly picked up the pace led by running back Kerryon Johnson, 116 yards and three TDs, and quarterback Jarrett Stidham, 264 yards and two TDs, against a seemingly solid Mississippi State defense. There is no doubt in our minds that their defensive unit can play with even the best, so to see their offense shining these past few weeks has been a great sign for the Tigers.

4. Florida

After getting embarrassed to a strong Michigan team week one, Florida has hit its stride, winning its last three games. With that being said, until this last game against Vanderbilt, they hadn’t won a game by more than 1 score. However, in this last game, they looked improved and inspired offensively, especially in their run game that, between Lamical Perine and Malik Davis, posted five total touchdowns and 232 yards on the ground. Despite their close finishes as of late, Florida has been getting results, something they really need to keep doing and look primed to do.

5. Texas A&M

The Aggies may have blown a 34-point lead in week one, but since that hiccup, they’ve shown very few weaknesses. They’re now 4-0 since that dramatic loss to UCLA, and this past week featured a quality win over the South Carolina Gamecocks. As per usual, Texas A&M showcased their multi-dimensional run game, with three players racking up over twelve carries.

One of those players, quarterback Kellen Mond, also threw for almost 160 yards, proving he can suffice in filling the role of the injured Nick Starkel. In most cases, one could expect this offense to keep rolling, but the Aggies future doesn’t look too bright–this week, they’ll host the stout Alabama defense. If they somehow continue to have success, they could turn a lot of heads.

6. Arkansas

The highlight of Arkansas’ game against New Mexico State was not their much-needed win, but rather, head coach Bret Bielema’s performance of the Hokey Pokey in the locker room after the game.

Bielema was just having some fun; after all, he deserved it. Going into this game, Arkansas was 1-2 and coming off of a tough overtime loss against Texas A&M. Their matchup against New Mexico State proved to be the rebound they needed, as feature running back Devwah Whaley had an incredibly efficient game, all while freshman running back Chase Hayden was able to prove his effectiveness in the red zone. Meanwhile, quarterback Austin Allen threw for three touchdowns and over 260 yards. This was an ideal time to bounce back for the Razorbacks, as their upcoming game against South Carolina begins a four game stretch against SEC opponents.

7. Mississippi State

Mississippi State’s rout of previously 12th-ranked LSU just two weeks ago seems so far removed, after getting routed themselves these past two weeks. However, despite losing their ranking in the polls, it is important to note that these past two teams they played in Georgia and Auburn are among the best in the nation, so it is much too early to completely disregard Mississippi State as a weak team. While quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has struggled as of late, he and the rest of the offense has a much-needed week to fix their mistakes before going into their next game, which is a must win against BYU at home.

8. Kentucky

Kentucky barely squeaked by Eastern Michigan this week, making Wildcat football fans worried. This team had such a promising start to the season, but after losing to Florida last week, their confidence seems to have been shaken. Eastern Michigan should’ve been a cakewalk for Kentucky, but instead, they won by just four points. While their running game struggled, quarterback Stephen Johnson gave the fans something to cheer about, as he continued his play at a high level. Luckily for Kentucky, they host Missouri this week, so they have one more cakewalk game to redeem themselves.

9. LSU

Sorry Tiger fans. That was ugly.

LSU lost to Troy this weekend. Yes, Troy.

Many SEC fans had never heard of Troy before this week, until they upset the 25th-ranked LSU Tigers by a field goal. The Tigers offense couldn’t get much going this week: quarterback Danny Etling didn’t have his way with the Troy secondary, and their run game seemed nonexistent. In fact, before LSU’s offense could even score once, Troy had already run up the scoreboard for 17 points. This is certainly not the outcome that the Tigers had hoped for. Now, their only hope is to rebound while on a seven-game stretch against SEC opponents.

10. Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt’s seemingly strong defense seems to be a thing of the past, as after a strong first three weeks, they have allowed 59 and 38 points in their last two games, respectively. However, despite their defensive woes, quarterback Kyle Shurmur has continued to impress, posting three TDs and 0 interceptions last week, bringing him to an impressive 11:1 TD to interception ratio on the season.

Despite this, their offense looks ineffective and still looks like they have yet to hit their stride. However, strong quarterback play is always a step in the right direction. For the fourth straight week, marking the first time in its football program’s history, Vanderbilt will be playing a ranked opponent and it doesn’t quite yet seem that they are ready to continually compete at the high level needed to compete with them.

11. South Carolina

The Gamecocks lost a close one to Texas A&M this past weekend, but there were some positive takeaways from this game. When given the chance, sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley played well. It’s important to note that he was not given a chance nearly enough times, as he was sacked seven times.

After he threw a thirteen yard pass to OrTre Smith, Bentley increased the Gamecocks lead to ten points in the third quarter. Clearly, Bentley has what it takes to lead this team, but their offensive line needs to patch up their holes before he can do any serious damage. Only time will tell if head coach Will Muschamp can solve the protection issue before their matchup at home against Arkansas this week.

12. Ole Miss

Remember when the Commodores lost to Alabama by 59?

Well, Ole Miss lost to Alabama by 63. Yikes.

There’s not much to be said about this one. Ole Miss’ offense clearly couldn’t get it done, and their defense had absolutely no answer for the Crimson Tide, who wreaked the benefits. Alabama had five different players score a rushing touchdown: two quarterbacks, two running backs, and a tight end. If there’s anything positive to be said about Ole Miss’ performance, it’s that senior running back Jordan Wilkins played pretty well. He may have only touched the ball twelve times, but he still rushed for 101 yards. Next up for Ole Miss: 13th-ranked Auburn. This could get ugly.

13. Tennessee

Tennessee was thoroughly dominated by the Georgia Bulldogs this weekend, and according to our expertise, they are still not the best team in the state of Tennessee. Their offense looked particularly bad in this one. At least Ole Miss’ offense had some sort of highlight.

The Volunteers looked to four different running backs, none of whom could carry the load. Time and time again they were stopped by the Bulldog defense, and it didn’t help that quarterback Quinten Dormady threw two interceptions. Luckily for them, Tennessee has a week to recover before their next game. After the bye, they will host South Carolina in a battle to avoid mediocrity.

14. Missouri

Thankfully for Missouri, they didn’t play this week so they couldn’t suffer what likely would have been another loss. There isn’t much to say about this Missouri team that has its woes on both sides of the football. Hopefully they took this much-needed week off to recoup and fix their problems as they seek their first SEC win against Kentucky this week.

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About the Contributor
Simon Gibbs, Former Sports Editor
Simon Gibbs (‘21) is the former Sports Editor for The Vanderbilt Hustler. He has been on staff since the first semester of his freshman year, previously serving as a Staff Writer, Senior Writer and Deputy Sports Editor. Simon is also the host of VU Sports Wired on Vanderbilt Video Productions and The Hustler Sports 30 on VandyRadio. Simon has attended several events as credentialed media, including the 2019 NFL Draft, 2019 College Baseball World Series and the 2019 SEC Tournament. Outside of his Commodore coverage, Simon has had bylines published on and When he's not writing, you can find Simon watching his hometown New York Mets, waiting for that next ring. For tips, comments or concerns, please reach out to: [email protected]    
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