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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.

Power Rankings Week Nine: Commodores rise, Tua falls, but Alabama stays put

Vanderbilt’s upset win over 22nd ranked Missouri marginally increased their ranking. On the other end, Alabama should stay put until their matchup against LSU.
Truman McDaniel
Vanderbilt defeats Mizzou on Saturday, October 19, 2019. (Photo by Truman McDaniel)

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

The Alabama Crimson Tide appear to have dodged a bullet with quarterback Tua Tagoviloa’s ankle injury, which kept him out of the second half of their Week Eight contest against Tennessee. The Crimson Tide are still two weeks away from their showdown with LSU, which will likely be the third LSU-Alabama “Game of the Century.” Even without Tua, Alabama should have no problem this week at home against Arkansas, but unlike last season, it’s far from inevitable that the Crimson Tide will easily run through the SEC. Alabama will need their lefty signal-caller back and ready for action in order to hold their own against a high-powered LSU offense.

2. LSU Tigers

Unsurprisingly, quarterback Joe Burrow has emerged as the Vegas-favorite to win the Heisman. For those who had doubts entering their Week Eight matchup against Mississippi State, Burrow settled the debate to the tune of 327 passing yards, four passing touchdowns and no interceptions. This all comes, of course, after having already set LSU’s single season passing touchdown record. His candidacy will likely hinge on whether the Tigers beat Alabama in two weeks, but first they have to get past a talented Auburn team this weekend — a task that certainly requires its due diligence, but still shouldn’t provide much of a challenge for the Tigers.

3. Florida Gators

Quarterback Kyle Trask has filled in admirably for Feleipe Franks to power the Gators, having thrown for seven touchdowns in the last two games. Despite losing handedly to the LSU Tigers in Trask’s first showing, they managed to defeat the South Carolina Gamecocks Oct. 19. Now, the Gators have a much-needed bye week, during which they’ll game plan for their next matchup against Georgia. If the Florida Gators hope to remain in the playoff picture, they absolutely must find a way to contain the Georgia Bulldog offense.

4. Georgia Bulldogs

The 6-1 Bulldogs are in a similar position to the Gators. They managed to shut-out Kentucky in Week Eight, but their shocking double-overtime loss to South Carolina two weeks ago puts them on thin ice. A win next weekend in Gainesville will vault them into serious contender status for the playoff, while a loss will likely be the end of their season. Head coach Kirby Smart looked wise for sticking with Fromm at quarterback over Justin Fields last season, but with Fields, who is currently third nationally in QBR and lighting it up for Ohio State, Georgia fans may be having second thoughts.

5. Auburn Tigers

Auburn will face their toughest matchup of the season in Baton Rouge on Sunday. They were only able to muster 13 points in Gainesville on Oct. 5, and they will certainly need a more explosive offensive performance to keep up with Burrow and the LSU offense. A whole lot would have to go right for the Tigers to win this week, as they seem to be stuck on the outside looking in.

6. Texas A&M Aggies

With losses to Clemson, Auburn and Alabama, A&M is probably the best 4 win team in the country. Their season started off with a Gauntlet, but the Aggies must now take advantage of the soft spot in their schedule over the next few weeks. They should handle Mississippi State at home this weekend, followed by the UTSA Roadrunners and South Carolina Gamecocks, but their schedule reverts to its original form at the end: they’ll finish the season with road games against Georgia and LSU, games that must make head coach Jimbo Fisher must miss the ACC schedules he had at Florida State.

7. Mississippi State Bulldogs

The 3-4 Mississippi State Bulldogs have found themselves in a sticky situation after three straight losses to Auburn, Tennessee and LSU — sure, Auburn and LSU are two forces to be reckoned with, but their loss in Knoxville to the struggling Volunteers is about as bad as their first loss to Kansas State. This week, they travel to face the Texas A&M Aggies, with a legitimate opportunity to move up in the power rankings.

8. Missouri Tigers

Mizzou showed last week against the Commodores that they shouldn’t have been nationally ranked. The Tigers don’t have an impressive win on their resume yet, and are squarely in the middle of the SEC. That said, they should have no problem handling Kentucky on the road this weekend. Their struggles shouldn’t be too concerning; after all, they’re still not eligible for a bowl game due to academic violations.

9. South Carolina Gamecocks

South Carolina’s season started with an underwhelming two wins in five games, which may have all but eliminated the Gamecocks from bowl contention. In Week Six, however, they shocked the entire nation with a gargantuan, 20-17 upset win over the 3rd ranked Georgia Bulldogs — that is, of course, only to return to their normal form and lose to Florida. Luckily, South Carolina doesn’t have much to worry about for the next two weeks, as they will travel to take on the struggling Volunteers, then host the two-win Commodores.

10. Ole Miss Rebels

Ole Miss has won just two conference games against the likes of Vanderbilt and Arkansas, the 13th and 14th teams in the power rankings, respectively. Nobody expects their offense to provide any competition on the road against the 9th ranked Auburn Tigers after the bye week, especially with their quarterback struggling, which has vaulted true-freshman John Rhys Plumlee into the picture.

11. Kentucky Wildcats

The success of the 2018 Wildcats seems to be a one-season wonder, as Kentucky has returned to their middling status within the SEC. Quarterback Sawyer Smith ranks 73rd nationally in QBR, as head coach Mark Stoops’s offense is struggling to compete following the departure of running back Benny Snell. That will likely remain unchanged as they host Missouri, who’s desperate for a big win after being upset by Vanderbilt.

12. Tennessee Volunteers

Head coach Jeremy Pruitt made headlines for the wrong reasons last Saturday, as he violently grabbed his quarterback Jarrett Guarantano’s facemask on the sidelines during their loss to Alabama. With an easy remaining schedule of SC, UAB, UK, Missouri and Vanderbilt, Pruitt has no excuse not to get the Volunteers closer to .500 on the season.

13. Vanderbilt Commodores

With Derek Mason coaching for his job, he turned to third-string quarterback Mo Hasan last week in what was the coaching equivalent of a Hail Mary. Remarkably, Hasan delivered in what might have been the most important win of the Mason era. Down the stretch, Mason likely needs three more wins to keep his job. With Kentucky, ETSU, and Tennessee still on the schedule, he absolutely has the opportunity to do so. While Hasan went down with a concussion in their win over Missouri, he’s expected to make a full recovery in the upcoming bye week.

14. Arkansas Razorbacks

Fortunately for Arkansas, they took care of business against Portland State and Colorado State at the beginning for season. Furthermore, the Razorbacks are lucky that Alabama Heisman hopeful Tua Tagoviloa is out this weekend, so the spread is only 32 points. Unfortunately, they’re likely going winless in the SEC this season, and if by some miracle that were to change, it won’t happen this week against Alabama.

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About the Contributors
Henry Hunter
Henry Hunter, Former Staff Writer
Henry Hunter ('22) was a staff writer for The Hustler. Outside of writing of The Hustler and co-hosting Heat Check on VandyRadio, he is a research assistant for Vanderbilt’s ROCCA Lab. On Sundays, he can be found convincing himself of the Giants' chances to win the NFC East. He can be reached at [email protected].
Truman McDaniel
Truman McDaniel, Former Multimedia Sports Specialist
Truman McDaniel (2023) is a student in the College of Arts & Science majoring in Environmental and Ecological Biology and Political Science. In his free time, he enjoys taking pictures, drinking coffee and watching movies. He can be reached at [email protected].    

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