SEC Power Rankings Week 13: Vandy is where?

Tennessee and Florida tumble while Vanderbilt moves up after two SEC wins. The Hustler takes a look at the SEC before the final week of the regular season.

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Miguel Beristain

Vanderbilt’s defense had two interceptions against Florida on Nov. 19, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Miguel Beristain)

Matthew Shipley, Andrew Wilf and Anish Mago

1. Georgia (11-0)

It wasn’t pretty, but Georgia got it done with a 16-6 win against Kentucky and finished the season with an undefeated 8-0 SEC record. Running back Kenny McIntosh ran for a career-high 143 yards, and the Bulldogs put up another dominant defensive effort against the Wildcats. Kirby Smart has the best defense in the FBS, allowing only 11.1 points per game to opponents. Georgia is the heavy favorite at home against Georgia Tech, though they’ll want to avoid looking past this game to the SEC championship and losing to the Yellow Jackets like North Carolina did last week. Georgia remains the clear-cut favorite to win the SEC and retain their No. 1 ranking in the CFP.

2. LSU (9-2)

Maybe, just maybe. LSU has been on a roll, most recently beating UAB 41-10, and are now positioned as the No. 5 team in the country. With either Michigan or Ohio State taking a loss this weekend, the Tigers could creep up to No. 4 if they take care of business at Texas A&M. However, Georgia waits on the other side in the SEC championship and stands in their way of potentially being the first ever two-loss team in the playoff. LSU holds its own destiny, but Brian Kelly has to muster his team up for the biggest challenge of the season yet in the Bulldogs.

3. Alabama (9-2)

While all but out of playoff contention, No. 7 Alabama is still a dominant team. The Tide rolled over Austin Peay 34-0 behind efficient play from Bryce Young who completed 75% of his passes for 221 passing yards and 2 TDs. Jase McClellan also contributed on the ground with 156 rushing yards and 2 TDs. The Iron Bowl will likely be Young’s last game in Tuscaloosa. Expect the Tide to put it all out on the field against Auburn before turning their attention to their bowl matchup.

4. Tennessee (9-2)

Pride comes before a fall. Just a few weeks ago, Tennessee was on top of the world: beating Alabama, ranked No. 1 and having their best season in years. Then came Georgia, where they were outplayed from start to finish. Still, Tennessee fans wished the cards could fall their way and their team could sneak into the playoff at 11-1. Now, any hope the Volunteers had to make the playoff has dissipated after a 63-38 thrashing by South Carolina last Saturday. The Tennessee defense allowed a touchdown on every drive except for one, and Tennessee was already down 18 points when Heisman candidate Hendon Hooker suffered a devastating season-ending ACL tear. With Joe Milton III stepping in at quarterback, the Volunteers want to stop the bleeding and make it to a New Year’s Six Bowl game with a win in Nashville. They should win on paper, but the Commodores have the hot hand and a bowl to play for.

5. Arkansas (6-5)

Arkansas looked like a different team Saturday in their 42-27 win over Ole Miss on Saturday, clinching bowl eligibility. Raheim Sanders rushed for 232 yards and 3 TDs for the Razorbacks on 24 carries, and the Arkansas defense got three takeaways from Ole Miss limiting the impact of giving up 703 total yards to the Rebels. The Razorbacks will see if they can continue this momentum against Missouri and reach .500 in conference play with a win.

6. Mississippi State (8-4)

The Mississippi State Bulldogs have a lot to be thankful for after beating the No. 20 Ole Miss Rebels in the notorius Egg Bowl. Will Rogers and the Bulldog offense continue to sling it. Rogers leads the SEC in completions with 386. The Bulldogs ended their 2-year drought, beating Ole Miss 24-22, thanks to a denial of the Rebels’ 2-point conversion attempt with 90 seconds left. The Bulldogs’ massive win could earn them a spot in the AP top 25 for the first time since week six.

 7South Carolina (7-4)

What a turnaround. After scoring only six points against Florida the week before, South Carolina put up 63 points in their upset win against Tennessee, jumping them up three spots in our rankings. Spencer Rattler had the best game of his career, completing 30-of-37 for 438 yards and 6 TDs against the Volunteers. The Gamecocks aim to topple another giant this weekend in No. 8 Clemson and spoil the Tigers’ hopes of getting back to the playoff. 

8. Ole Miss (8-4)

Ole Miss has had the ultimate collapse this season, losing the past three games. On Thanksgiving night, five days after losing to Arkansas by 15 points, the Rebels were narrowly bested by Mississippi State. With just under 90 seconds remaining, Jaxson Dart capped off a 99-yard drive with a 23-yard touchdown to push the game to 24-22. Unfortunately for the Rebels, they were unable to convert on their 2-point attempt after scoring. This loss jeopardizes Ole Miss’s 29-week streak of being ranked in the AP Polls. There is some good news in Oxford, though, as Lane Kiffin will return next season. 

9. Vanderbilt (5-6)

A laughingstock organization to a promising organization. That is the exact transition that has gone through the minds of several critics within the SEC and nationally when examining Vanderbilt football. After winning their first SEC game since 2019 two weeks ago against Kentucky, the Commodores showed the world that their win in Lexington was not a fluke by winning another SEC game last Saturday. Vanderbilt pulled off another program-defining win by beating Florida for the first time at home since 1988. This week, Clark Lea and his team will look to defeat the Tennessee Volunteers, who will be suiting up without their star quarterback Hendon Hooker. A win against the Volunteers would guarantee a bowl game for the Commodores for the first time since 2018.

10. Kentucky (6-5)

For the Wildcats, the season couldn’t have started out much better. Kentucky began the year 4-0 and reached as high as No. 7 in the AP Poll in late September. They were led by a surging Will Levis, who looked poised for a run at the Heisman Trophy and a high first-round selection in the NFL draft. It’s been all trouble since then. Although they kept it close versus No. 1 Georgia, the loss is the Wildcats’ fifth in their last seven games. Despite boasting a defense studded with NFL talent, Kentucky’s offense has held them back this season, ranking dead-last in the SEC in total offense. Both sides of the ball have yet to complement each other, and the result is a program that cannot find consistency week-to-week. Despite the disappointing finish to the year, the Wildcats will get the opportunity to compete in a bowl game, largely due to their early success. Mark Stoops and co. will finish out their regular season with a home date versus No. 25 Louisville. 

11. Florida (6-5)

After convincing victories over Texas A&M and South Carolina, it appeared that the Gators were headed for a late-season surge and a chance at a high-profile bowl game. Unfortunately for them, the Commodores had something to say about that. Despite an impressive performance from QB Anthony Richardson (400 yards, 3 TDs), a combination of poor run defense and lack of discipline doomed the Gators in Nashville. The loss represents a fitting way of describing an up-and-down season for the Gators–one where they were unable to put together more than two consecutive wins. Florida will finish the season with an in-state matchup against No. 16 Florida State. 

12. Missouri (5-6)

After consecutive losses to Kentucky and then-No. 5 Tennessee, the Tigers bounced back with a 45-14 blowout victory over New Mexico State last week. After a rocky start to the season, quarterback Brady Cook continued to look sharp in the victory, totalling 322 yards and 3 touchdowns. Despite persistent offensive struggles, the Tigers’ defense has remained strong throughout the year, ranking near the top of the conference in total defense and points allowed per game. Combined with improved quarterback play, Mizzou looks poised to end their season on a high note. With bowl-eligibility on the line, the Tigers will face off against Arkansas on Saturday afternoon. 

13. Auburn (5-6)

Coming off of a victory over Texas A&M, Auburn continued to find success under interim coach Carnell Williams, earning a lopsided 41-17 victory over Western Kentucky. Despite not having much to play for as the season has winded down, the Tigers seem to be re-energized since the dismissal of former head coach Bryan Harsin, winning two of their last three. Auburn was proficient on the ground in the victory, with the duo of Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter combining for 229 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns. Through many issues on both sides of the ball, Auburn has remained one of the nation’s most impressive teams running the ball throughout the season, averaging just over 195 rushing yards per game. The Tigers will head into Saturday with a chance to clinch a postseason berth in the annual Iron Bowl matchup versus No. 7 Alabama. 

14. Texas A&M (4-7)

Struggling to beat one-win UMass? Really? Texas A&M put on a pitiful performance that included four fumbles against one of the worst teams in the FBS. The Aggies now complete their downward spiral and find themselves at the bottom of the SEC. With a home crowd that makes FirstBank Stadium look packed in comparison, Texas A&M is definitely this season’s biggest loser. The Aggies will make history as the first team in the recruiting ratings era to have a losing record after putting together the best recruiting class in the nation. A&M could take some solace with a home win against No. 5 LSU, but that prospect is quite unlikely.