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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 Four: Vanderbilt, LSU rising

Claire Barnett
The Vanderbilt Football team plays at Notre Dame on Saturday, September 15, 2018. The Commodores lost 17-22. (Photo by Claire Barnett)

After an interesting Week 3 which featured a hurricane cancelling a game, the race in the SEC is heating up.

There were upsets and surprises last week, but not a lot of change going on in our rankings.

Here is the current state of the SEC in our weekly power rankings.

1. Alabama

Expect anything different? Ole Miss scored on their first play on Saturday, then the Tide absolutely took over. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa of national championship fame is starting to create Heisman buzz just three weeks in, and he added to it against the Rebels, throwing for two touchdowns in the first half as Alabama raced to a 49-7 lead. At this point, it feels like the rest of the country is simply a step below Nick Saban’s team, but anything can happen in the SEC.

2. LSU

Without a doubt the most impressive performance of the weekend goes to Coach Ed Orgeron’s Tigers, who went into Jordan-Hare Stadium and did something no opposing team had done in two years: win. LSU responded to its first real test of the year with an inspired fourth quarter, which saw them overcome an eight-point deficit. Quarterback Joe Burrow did just enough for the win, leading LSU on a 14-play, 56-yard drive to end the game with a field goal as time ran out. The Tigers get a bit of a reprieve from their tough start to the season on Saturday as they host Louisiana Tech.

3. Georgia

Another week, another blowout for Kirby Smart’s Dawgs. Georgia has scored 40+ points in all three games this season, and this past weekend against MTSU (we know them!) was no different. The Bulldogs jumped out 42-7 at halftime and never really had to break a sweat to beat the Blue Raiders, who were completely overmatched. Georgia is clearly the class of the SEC East three weeks in, but will get a big test at Missouri this weekend, as they will run into Drew Lock and the 3-0 Tigers. We will know much more about what Georgia can be capable of after this game.

4. Auburn

It wouldn’t be an Auburn season without an inexplicable loss to LSU early. That being said, Auburn showed many good signs in this game, including bouncing back from an early hole to seemingly have the game in hand late. Jarrett Stidham will give them many chances to win tough games in the future, but like always, the season will be defined by November trips to Georgia and Alabama. With those games on the schedule, it is impossible to write the Tigers off just yet.

5.Mississippi State

The Bulldogs responded extremely well to their ugly game at Kansas State last weekend, easily taking care of Louisiana-Lafayette 56-10. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald was paramount to this recovery, accounting for 350 yards and six touchdowns in the rout. That being said, Mississippi State is still a relatively unknown commodity; a team that has the talent to contend, but hasn’t had to prove it yet. They will get the chance this weekend at Kentucky, who will have something to prove against a team from the west.

6. Texas A&M

The Aggies bounced back from their loss at home to Clemson with aplomb, jumping all over Louisiana Monroe, 48-10. Jimbo Fisher has been perhaps the most surprising new coaching hire in the country so far, and his team, led by sophomore quarterback Kellen Mond, will figure to be a tough out in SEC play. Unfortunately for A&M fans, the beginning of SEC play means a visit from Alabama this week, but if the Aggies can hang tough, it will inspire confidence moving forward in the brutal west.

7. Kentucky

In what was a theme across most of the SEC this weekend, Kentucky routed a team from a non-power five conference, defeating Murray State 48-10. For Kentucky, however, this game may have had added significance, as they were able to eliminate a potential “hangover” that could have come after ending their 31-year losing streak to Florida a week earlier. Kentucky has now won their first three games of a season for the second straight year, and it is clear Mark Stoops is building something of a contender in Lexington.

8. South Carolina

The Gamecocks had their game against Marshall cancelled this week due to the wrath of Hurricane Florence, which took some potential valuable experience away as they turn toward West End this week. Jake Bentley remains the focal point of the offense, and if he can get rolling this weekend, Vanderbilt will have all they can handle.

9. Florida

Florida got a much-needed bounce-back win this week against Colorado State after their debacle of a game at home with Kentucky the week before in which they had a 31-year winning streak snapped. Quarterback Feliepe Franks has had a strong start to this season, throwing two more touchdowns on Saturday to give him nine on the season so far, matching his total from last year. It feels as if Florida’s trip to Tennessee this weekend is a must-win for both teams, given their starts to the season and a need for a confidence-boosting win entering SEC play.

10. Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt did not win this weekend at Notre Dame, but it is hard to look at the game as anything but a positive for the Commodores. They went into a hostile environment against a top-10 team in the country and if one of a few game-changing plays go their way, they would be walking out with a signature win. That being said, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. The Commodores need to refocus this week and come out with the same fire against South Carolina, a team that has owned them for almost a decade. We will learn a lot about the future of this team as they begin SEC play.

11. Mizzou

Yes, Missouri is 3-0. Yes, Missouri still has Drew Lock, who has a number of SEC passing records. However, Missouri simply has not been all that convincing. It took a last-second field goal this past weekend to sneak past a Purdue team that is now 0-3, and that was with a 375-yard, three-Touchdown performance from Lock. Mizzou will get a shot to prove its legitimacy this week as Georgia comes to town. If they can hang with the Dawgs, perhaps it will spring them to better performances throughout SEC play.

12. Ole Miss

Let’s be honest, as Vanderbilt fans we have seen the movie Rebel fans watched on Saturday. Alabama came to town unbeaten, but Ole Miss was unbeaten as well, and seemed to be scoring at will. That all came crashing down in the span of about 25 minutes on Saturday night. The Rebels were beaten by Alabama in every phase of the game, but to be fair to Ole Miss, most teams in the country would. Ole Miss gets a cupcake in Kent State this weekend to try to bounce back and get their heads in the right place for the rest of the season.

13. Tennessee

An SEC team should really be beating UTEP by more than 24 points at home, especially an SEC team with the talent that Tennessee has. UTEP has not won in 15 games, but they were able to more or less hang with the Vols, finding themselves at halftime only down 10. It is clear that Tennessee still has much to improve under Jeremy Pruitt, and will get the chance for the first big win of his tenure when Florida visits on Saturday.

14. Arkansas

What is there really to say? It’s only going to get worse for the Razorbacks, who have to travel to Auburn this week against a team that will be not so happy about their game last week with LSU. Chad Morris needs to figure something out, and fast.

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About the Contributors
Jack Fader, Former Author
Claire Barnett, Former Multimedia Director
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