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 11: Taste of Nashville Edition

In this week’s power rankings, Vanderbilt and Georgia stay put while Missouri jumps two spots.
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Feathers flew on the field, as captured on Nov. 5, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Miguel Beristain)

The time has finally come.

Since The Hustler started incorporating themes into the weekly SEC Power Rankings, food around campus needed to be considered. Ahead of Week 11 in college football, The Hustler broke down where every team is ranked in the SEC, comparing teams to Taste of Nashville restaurants. To no surprise, Vanderbilt has stayed put in last place.

1. Georgia 9-0 (6-0)

Taste of Nashville Equivalent: Sun & Fork

Holding the No. 1 spot for 11 consecutive weeks requires consistency. Does any meal, Commodore Card or otherwise, embody consistency more than a Sunday morning chicken pesto bowl at Sun & Fork? Georgia survived a close call with No. 12 Missouri last week, and it wasn’t their first brush with near-defeat this season. But week-in and week-out, the Bulldogs have found a way to win football games. With their win against Missouri, Georgia has now won 26 consecutive games. While they might be No. 2 in the college playoff ranking, the back-to-back champions are still the gold standard of college football until anyone can beat them. And until any Commodore Card restaurant can provide a cheaper, quicker and more versatile option, the same can be said about Sun & Fork.

2. Alabama 8-1 (6-0)

Taste of Nashville Equivalent: Satay

Sun & Fork might be number one right now, but no establishment is more synonymous with the Commodore Card than Satay. Similarly, Georgia still has a long way to go to surpass Alabama as the quintessential SEC football team of this generation. Nick Saban’s squad has vanquished any concern following an early season loss to Texas, and again looks like a top contender to make the College Football Playoff. Alabama picked up its best win of the season last week against No. 14 LSU, comfortably outpacing the nation’s highest scoring offense 42-28. Quarterback Jalen Milroe looks more comfortable than ever after a bumpy start to the year, slicing up LSU on the ground to the tune of 155 yards and 4 touchdowns.

3. Missouri 7-2 (4-1)

Taste of Nashville Equivalent: Oscar’s

Missouri lost its chance to qualify for the SEC championship after Georgia threw a french fry in its metaphorical burrito last week. The Tigers were tied with the Bulldogs at halftime but were outscored 14-3 in the third quarter and ultimately lost by a score of 30-21. Even so, the Tigers’ 7-2 start bodes very well for the future of the program, especially for a team that hasn’t won more than 6 games in a season since 2018. Quarterback Brady Cook is fourth in the conference in passing yards and third in touchdowns, a huge leap from his uncertain status as QB1 at the end of last season. The Tigers also have one of the top receivers in college football in Luther Burden, who is third in the conference in receiving yards and second in receiving touchdowns. With winnable games against Tennessee, Florida and Arkansas on the horizon, Missouri has a chance to finish with 10 regular season wins for the first time since 2014. 

4. Ole Miss 8-1 (5-1)

Taste of Nashville Equivalent: Sitar

What more does 8-1 Ole Miss need to do to break out of the No. 4 spot in these rankings? The plight of the perpetually overlooked Rebels is all too familiar to patrons of Sitar, a hallowed institution of Indian cuisine and the most underrated restaurant on the Commodore Card. The Rebels combine some of the most explosive skill position players in the SEC with an all-time spicy head coach in Lane Kiffin to create one of the most formidable offenses in all of college football. Last week, the Rebels escaped a surprisingly close bout with Texas A&M, causing them to fall in the rankings. While their points per game average of 38.8 puts them at 14th in the country, the Rebels are also giving up a far less impressive 22.9 points to opposing teams. It’s possible the balance in Oxford is too tilted for this to be a playoff-caliber team. 

5. LSU 6-3 (4-2)

Taste of Nashville Equivalent: Roma

As the only late-night pizza option near Vanderbilt, Roma gets more love from the student body than it probably deserves. Likewise, No. 18 LSU is still getting national recognition despite an underwhelming 6-3 start to the season. The product on the field has been spectacular at times, but just like those 2 a.m.Roma orders, America is still waiting on LSU to deliver. Quarterback Jayden Daniels would likely be the Heisman frontrunner if his team wasn’t eliminated from CFP contention. Daniels is first in the SEC in passing yards (2792), first in touchdowns (27), third in completion percentage (72.1%) and fifth in rushing yards (684). The Tigers season isn’t over, and a top-10 finish in the AP rankings is not off the table with a strong finish to the season. However, this team had the talent to make the College Football Playoffs, so it’s pretty difficult to look at the season as anything other than a disappointment. 

6. Tennessee 7-2 (3-2)

Taste of Nashville Equivalent: I Love Sushi

I Love Sushi is as divisive a restaurant as you will find on the Commodore card. Supporters champion its proximity to campus, flexibility with hosting events and, of course, very solid sushi. Critics claim it is overpriced and overrated due to the lack of sushi options in Nashville. Similarly, No. 14 Tennessee is one of the most polarizing teams in college football this season. The Volunteers sit at a respectable 7-2 on the season, but their conference record reveals a team that hasn’t really faced much adversity this season. Tennessee picked up solid wins against mediocre SEC teams in South Carolina, Kentucky and Texas A&M but lost by double digits to Florida and Alabama. Quarterback Joe Milton is living up to expectations as the successor to Hendon Hooker, with 2,016 passing yards, 15 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions. We will soon find out if Tennessee belongs in the upper echelon of the SEC as the Volunteers take on No. 14 Missouri and No. 2 Georgia in the next two weeks.

7. Kentucky 6-3 (3-3)

Taste of Nashville Equivalent: The Poki

Although The Poki is new, it has not stopped Vanderbilt students from frequently making stops at the poke joint. Similarly, the Kentucky Wildcats have only recently become a powerhouse. For decades, Kentucky was known as only a perennial basketball powerhouse. The Wildcats have put football on the map in Lexington, Ky. in the last few seasons, thanks to winning four of their last five bowl games. Behind quarterback Devin Leary, the Wildcats will look to use their 24-3 victory over Mississippi State last week and defeat the No. 8 Alabama Crimson Tide this weekend. Leary left the Mississippi State game with an injury in the second half but is expected to play this weekend. Kentucky last defeated Alabama in 1997.

8. Texas A&M 5-4 (3-3)

Taste of Nashville Equivalent: Elliston Soda Shop

Featuring a similar menu and interior design as when it first opened in 1939, Elliston Soda Shop is a restaurant that relishes in the past. 1939 was also the last year that Texas A&M claimed a national championship, and the Aggies are equally desperate to recapture the long-forgotten feeling of winning. The Aggies tried to reboot their program in 2018 by hiring Jimbo Fisher from Florida St. and making him the highest paid coach in college football history. Fisher’s tenure peaked in 2020 when the Aggies went 9-1 and finished the season ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll. Despite bringing in the highest recruiting class in the country in 2022, things have all gone downhill since then. The Aggies are 10-11 overall and 5-9 in the SEC across the last two seasons. While one-possession losses to Alabama, Tennessee and Ole Miss show that A&M can put up a fight against anybody in the conference, it feels Aggies couldn’t be further from 1939.

9. Florida 5-4 (3-3)

Taste of Nashville Equivalent: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

Jeni’s offers an opportunity to cap off a delicious dinner with a sweet end to the night. Jeni’s is elite in terms of ice cream spots, but it never will fill up an appetite. Like Jeni’s one-dimensional purpose, the Florida Gators’ play this season is far from complementary. While Florida ranks sixth in the SEC with 275 passing yards per game, its defense has been insipid. The Gators rank last in the SEC in total sacks (13) and interceptions (3). The Gators fell to Arkansas 39-36 last Saturday and allowed KJ Jefferson to pass for 347 yards and 3 touchdowns. Florida will need to clean its act up before its matchup with Jaden Daniels and the LSU Tigers on Saturday night. 

10. Auburn 5-4 (2-4)

Taste of Nashville Equivalent: Papa John’s Pizza

The Gus Malzahn and Cam Newton days at Auburn are long in the rearview mirror now. In 2010, the Tigers won the National Championship. Now, they have become one of the SEC’s worst teams. Like the Tigers, Papa John’s is a household name in the world of pizza. Papa Johns’s reputation is as a big fast-food chain and not much more than that. Similarly, the Tigers have nothing distinct in their play. The only reason Auburn continues to receive nationally televised broadcasts is because of its reputation. The Tigers are rotating between two quarterback issues in Robby Ashford and Peyton Thorne. Vanderbilt fans know best that having a new quarterback on a weekly basis is less than ideal. The Tigers will look to win their third consecutive game this weekend when they play Arkansas.

11. Arkansas 3-6 (1-5)

Taste of Nashville Equivalent: Grain & Berry

One does not come to Vanderbilt and go to Grain & Berry on the average weekend. In fact, this joint is rarely talked about amongst Vanderbilt students. Although Grain & Berry can get the job done, it does not blow you away. Like Grain & Berry, Arkansas isn’t going to win you anything of substance. There is promise though.

Arkansas jumped one spot in this week’s power rankings after beating Florida 39-36. After putting up just three points against Mississippi State, the Hogs had a much-needed bye week. During the bye week, Arkansas fired offensive coordinator Dan Enos. Assistant Sports Specialist Jayce Pollard said on Live From West End that this change was needed. Pollard was proven right when KJ Jefferson looked like a star quarterback again last Saturday against Florida. The Hogs will look for their second consecutive conference win this Saturday when they clash with the Auburn Tigers. Las Vegas predicts the Hogs to stay in the win column and win their second straight game.

12. Mississippi State 4-5 (1-5)

Taste of Nashville Equivalent: Jamba Juice

The Mississippi State Bulldogs are very similar to Jamba Juice. Jamba Juice might not fill some up, but it will give a boost of sweetness to a pallet in need of something bright. The Bulldogs are similar in that sense. Mississippi State’s offense is inconsistent. Although the Bulldogs average a respectable 143.78 rushing yards per game (8th in the SEC), they rank 13th in the SEC in both passing touchdowns (13) and passing yards per game (191.89). Since starting quarterback Will Rogers has been injured, former Vanderbilt quarterback Mike Wright has not proven much. Wright helped the Bulldogs win their first SEC game of the season in his first start. The Bulldogs defeated Arkansas 7-3, thanks to Wright earning 60 yards on the ground and passing for 85 yards, a lone touchdown and a single interception. Since then, Wright has regressed and has a combined quarterback rating of 31.05 in the past two games. Wright, or whoever the quarterback is for Mississippi State this weekend, will look to blow past Texas A&M. 

13. South Carolina 4-5 (1-5)

Taste of Nashville Equivalent: Crab Fever

South Carolina narrowly beat Jacksonville State of Conference USA last weekend. Spencer Rattler and the Gamecocks have had great moments in the SEC this season from leading the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs 14-3 at halftime to beating Mississippi State 37-30. Most of South Carolina’s moments, though, have been disappointing. South Carolina’s defense has allowed an average of 33.25 points in its last four games. On Saturday, Vanderbilt will look to Will Sheppard to take the top off the South Carolina defense. While Crab Fever might serve some delectable dishes, its reputation is widely known across campus as a restaurant people drive past on West End Avenue.

14. Vanderbilt 2-8 (0-6)

Taste of Nashville Equivalent: Jet’s Pizza

Jet’s Pizza is inconsistent. Some nights Jet’s tastes like a Detroit pizza, while other nights are more comparable to Commons pizza. Like this pizza spot, Vanderbilt’s inconsistencies have been their ultimate identity this season. Vanderbilt has shown flashes of improvement, such as losing to Georgia by only 17. In 2022, the Commodores lost to the Bulldogs by 55 points. Clark Lea and Co. have had a disappointing season but will look to capture their first SEC win of the season this weekend. The Commodores were torched by Peyton Thorne of Auburn last weekend. On Saturday, Vanderbilt will look to contain Spencer Rattler. The Commodores will also need to run the game this weekend and improve on their 93.5 rushing yards per game average.

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About the Contributors
Andrew Wilf, Sports Editor
Andrew Wilf (’24) is Sports Editor for The Vanderbilt Hustler. He is from Livingston, N.J., and is majoring in history and minoring in business. He joined the sports staff his freshman year, previously serving as a Staff Writer, Assistant Sports Editor and Deputy Sports Editor. Beyond writing for The Hustler, he is also the host of Anchor Analysis, Commodore Clash and Live From West End. In his free time, Andrew enjoys watching the NFL and playing golf. He can be reached at [email protected].
Brandon Karp, Senior Staff Writer
Brandon Karp ('25) is from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and is studying human and organizational development and political science in Peabody College. You can reach him at [email protected].
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