Everyone and their mother knows that Georgia and Alabama are the top dogs, but is there now a clearer indication of who resides directly below them? After winning their last four games, including two against nationally ranked Alabama and Auburn, Texas A&M is rounding into form. With a 7-2 record and the No. 2 ranked defense in points per game (only behind Georgia), the Aggies are scorching in the back half of the season. They seem to be emerging as the clear No. 3 and will have a chance to draw a line in the sand between them and the rest of the SEC in a showdown against Ole Miss.
1. Georgia: 9-0
The undisputed best team in the nation continued to prove why they have that title, steamrolling Missouri by a score of 43-6. The game was never close, as after the Tigers had the audacity to put the No. 1 team in the nation in a 3-0 hole, the Bulldogs went on to score 40 unanswered. Nothing particularly wild happened on the stat sheet. This game was simply another case of Georgia outplaying their opponent in every single facet of the game, nearly doubling Missouri’s total yards and racking up 10 more first downs than the Tigers. Georgia’s defense, lead by star Jordan Davis, is shutting down teams at a historic rate and motoring the team to the potential top seed in the College Football Playoff. The Bulldogs will look to continue their undefeated campaign on Saturday afternoon when they visit the Tennessee Volunteers.
2. Alabama: 8-1
After a much-needed bye week, the Tide silenced the LSU Tigers 20-14 in a hard-fought battle. Although Alabama was the heavy favorite prior to the game, any matchup with archrival LSU will be a tough fight. In this showing, sophomore quarterback Bryce Young notched two passing touchdowns and threw for 302 yards. This season, Young has 28 passing touchdowns, which is the most in the SEC and fourth in college football. Ever since being upset by Texas A&M, 41-28, in Week 6, Alabama has outscored their opponents 121-47. The No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide will host the New Mexico State Aggies on Saturday as 51.5-point favorites.
3. Texas A&M: 7-2
What a huge victory for the Aggies on Saturday! In one of the most enthralling SEC showdowns of the year, Texas A&M welcomed Auburn to College Station and took care of business. Both teams came in scorching hot to this one, but the Aggies wrapped up the day, extinguishing the Tigers’ fire. The game was a defensive slugfest throughout, with the Aggies only leading 6-3 before pulling away in the fourth. Once again, Texas A&M was led by their ground game, with running back stars Isiah Spiller and Devon Achane combining for 210 yards. The Aggies are having an intriguing season, having now beaten both Alabama and Auburn, yet previously dropping games to Mississippi State and Arkansas. They will look to solidify their spot as the third best in the SEC this week as they battle No. 12 Ole Miss.
4. Ole Miss: 7-2
Ole Miss topped Liberty 27-14 and ended the day with the offense racking up 466 yards and the defense snagging an impressive three interceptions. Although Ole Miss sits at No. 12 in the nation, this team lacks discipline. The Rebels have committed 89 penalties this season, the most in the FBS. Ole Miss will need to avoid penalties and stay in front of the chains in order to defeat No. 11 Texas A&M on Saturday. Additionally, quarterback Matt Corral will continue to pursue the Heisman Trophy this weekend.
5. Arkansas: 6-3
The Razorbacks topped Mississippi State, 31-28, in a close one last weekend. A big 15-point fourth quarter bolstered Arkansas in one of the tightest SEC battles of the year. Running back Dominique Johnson (107 yards and two touchdowns) led the way for the Razorbacks. It was also an extremely efficient day for quarterback KJ Jefferson, as he completed 83 percent of his passes for 191 yards and a touchdown. Despite being outgained in total yards and first downs, Arkansas won the turnover battle and was efficient on third down, ultimately leading them to victory. The Razorbacks are back to their winning ways, now a couple weeks removed from their brutal three-game losing streak. They will look to win their third in a row in Baton Rouge on Saturday night as they visit LSU.
6. Auburn: 6-3
Two weeks ago, Auburn defeated Ole Miss 31-20. Auburn was unable to carry that momentum into their matchup with Texas A&M. They lost the meeting 20-3. Worryingly, quarterback Bo Nix and the offense have not scored a touchdown in the last six quarters of play. On the other end of the ball, there were positives, as Auburn’s defense didn’t surrender a single touchdown in this matchup. Auburn’s offense will need to pick up the slack quickly as the road only gets harder for them here on out. The Tigers will finish the regular season with matchups against Mississippi State, South Carolina and Alabama.
7. Kentucky: 6-3
After starting 6-0, Kentucky has come crashing down to Earth, dropping their third in a row—this time falling to Tennessee. The game was a close shootout the whole way through, with the Wildcats eventually losing by a score of 45-42. The stats jump off the page in this one. With quarterback Will Levis throwing for 372 yards and three touchdowns, running back Chris Rodriguez exploding for 109 yards and star receivers Wan’Dale Robinson and Izayah Cummings combining for 241 yards and two touchdowns, there was no shortage of offense for Kentucky. At the end of the day, this loss comes down to the fact that the Wildcats’s defense was absolutely thrashed, giving up 15 plays of over 10 yards and multiple touchdowns of 70-plus yards. Kentucky is no doubt a talented team, but their weaknesses have been exposed in the back half of the season. They will look to right the ship in Nashville on Saturday as they take on Vanderbilt.
8. Tennessee: 5-4
Tennessee jumps three spots in the power rankings this week. The Volunteers edged out the No. 18 Kentucky Wildcats 45-42 in a late-night thriller on Saturday. Tennessee’s remarkable performance was highlighted by quarterback Hendon Hooker, who passed for four touchdowns and posted a 273.7 passer rating. Tennessee has been playing with confidence and will look to force a legitimate threat to their opponents as the regular season winds down. Hooker—who Georgia coach Kirby Smart described as being a phenomenal athlete who is tough to take down—and the Volunteers will look to upset the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs this weekend in Knoxville.
9. LSU: 4-5
Okay, the Tigers did in fact drop below .500 this week. But if there is any way to respectably drop below the dreaded mark, it’s by losing a close game on the road against Alabama. In a surprisingly underwhelming season, LSU showed flashes of competitiveness that have been expected of them since their championship run in ‘19. The Tigers topped the Tide in time of possession and outrushed them by a whopping yardage total of 109 to 6. Budding star Tyrion Davis-Price performed well yet again, rushing for 104 yards and averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Despite a gritty performance by the Tigers, Alabama was simply the better team in this one, as they prevailed 20-14. LSU will look to even up their record on Saturday night against Arkansas.
10. Mississippi State: 5-4
A week after knocking off No. 12 Kentucky, Mississippi State fell short to Arkansas 31-28. The Bulldogs nearly sent the game to overtime, but a 40-yard missed field goal attempt wiped out any hope of a comeback. Quarterback Will Rogers threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns. With that performance, Rogers joined Dak Prescott as the only quarterbacks in school history to pass for 3,000 yards or more in a single season. This week, Rogers and the offense will look to break down a dominant Auburn defense. Mississippi State’s all-time record against Auburn is 27-2-65 and 0-1 in the Mike Leach era.
11. South Carolina: 5-4
The Gamecocks trampled Florida, 40-17. Propelled by a 20-3 second quarter, South Carolina grabbed a huge lead and never looked back. Running backs Kevin Harris and Zaquandre White combined for 239 rushing yards and both averaged at least 8 yards per carry. The Gamecocks played extremely disciplined football, only committing one penalty for a total of five yards all game—a rarity for college football. It’s been an up-and-down season for a rebuilding South Carolina program, but they will look to move to a respectable 6-4 this week when they travel to Missouri to take on the Tigers in yet another SEC battle.
12. Florida: 4-5
Head coach Dan Mullen is on the hot seat right now. After losing to the South Carolina Gamecocks 40-17 in embarrassing fashion, Mullen fired defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and offensive line coach John Havesy. This week, the Gators will return to the Swamp to host the Samford Bulldogs. The Gator defense will need to recover from their struggles and alleviate third-and-long conversions. Florida will be able to take control of this game on the ground. The Gators are No. 3 in the FBS in terms of rushing yards, averaging 5.8 yards per carry.
13. Missouri: 4-5
Yep, another addition to the “decimated by Georgia” club. The Tigers will always be able to say that they held a lead against the best team in the nation, as they went up by a field goal early, but that’s about all they can take away from this matchup. Their offense sputtered in the presence of a ferocious Bulldog defense, and the team overall was dominated in every major yardage category by Georgia. Missouri is just 1-4 in SEC play this season, with that one win coming in a sloppy game against Vanderbilt. For this reason, they drop to the penultimate spot in the rankings.
14. Vanderbilt: 2-7
After a gut-wrenching defeat to Missouri, Vanderbilt spent the bye week preparing for the high-flying Kentucky Wildcats. Mike Wright and the offense will look to provide Commodore fans with a sense of hope in their last home game of the season. There is a possibility that Vanderbilt fans see the return of Ken Seals, Rocko Griffin and De’Rickey Wright. For Vanderbilt to stay competitive in this game, the defense will need to stop SEC rushing leader Christopher Rodriguez Jr. The running back has 918 rushing yards this season, while Vanderbilt’s defense has given up 185.4 yards per game.