Power Rankings Week 11: Battle of the blue bloods

LSU and Alabama stay put during their bye weeks as they prepare for what might be the game of the year in college football

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Power Rankings Week 11: Battle of the blue bloods

LSU defeats Vanderbilt 66-38 during parents' weekend on Saturday, September 21, 2019.

LSU defeats Vanderbilt 66-38 during parents' weekend on Saturday, September 21, 2019.

Hunter Long

LSU defeats Vanderbilt 66-38 during parents' weekend on Saturday, September 21, 2019.

Hunter Long

Hunter Long

LSU defeats Vanderbilt 66-38 during parents' weekend on Saturday, September 21, 2019.

Justin Hershey, Staff Writer

After a light Week Ten in the SEC, the entire country will turn its attention to Tuscaloosa this week, where second-ranked Alabama will host top-ranked LSU in the most anticipated college football game of the season.  

Although both teams were on byes this past Saturday, there were several other notable storylines within the conference that are worthy of attention.  These include Georgia picking up a solid SEC win, Auburn avoiding an upset and Vanderbilt continuing to lose quarterbacks to injury. With all that being said, here are the Hustler’s Week Eleven SEC Power Rankings: 

1. LSU Tigers

With a week to prepare for rival Alabama, Coach Ed Orgeron’s team knows exactly what it has to do to guarantee a College Football Playoff appearance.  Quarterback Joe Burrow has been nothing short of Heisman worthy, boasting a 30-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio while completing almost 80 percent of his passes. The key for the Tigers this week will be whether their defense performs.  This offense has put up more than 35 points in seven of eight games, but the Tiger defense has relinquished more than 25 points in three of those contests. If Burrow can continue his stellar play and the defense can contain Alabama’s dynamic running backs, LSU can move one step closer to its National Championship aspirations.

2. Alabama Crimson Tide

Similarly to LSU, Alabama comes into this game undefeated with a College Football Playoff berth essentially riding on this game. The big question will be the health of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The junior is labeled as questionable heading into Saturday, but when he has played, he has been virtually unstoppable.  In conjunction with a talented backfield, this Alabama offense has scored over 35 points in every game this season. Burrow will be a tough test for this defense, but with one of the greatest football coaches ever on the sideline, the Crimson Tide are bound to scheme properly for LSU’s stud quarterback. Whether Tua plays or not, do not miss this game on Saturday at 2:30 CT.

3. Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia won a big game over Florida this past weekend, despite a fourth quarter surge from the Gators, and has moved up our rankings because of it.  Although the loss to South Carolina will almost positively restrict a College Football Playoff appearance for the Bulldogs, they will still have a chance at an SEC championship and New Year’s Six bowl appearance if they can win out.  Running back D’Andre Swift continues to be the anchor of this offense, but with quarterback Jake Fromm’s steady play, Georgia can still salvage a successful season if they are able to capture a league championship. They will take on a struggling Missouri team this week in Athens.

4. Florida Gators

Florida narrowly remains in the top ten of the AP Poll this week after being defeated by Georgia this past weekend.  In a season of heightened expectations, the Gators have battled injuries to remain very relevant in the SEC. Junior quarterback Kyle Trask has done a very solid job in relief of Feleipe Franks, and the good news for the Gators is that they have a depleted Vanderbilt team coming to Gainesville this week.  Following the Commodores, Florida will face Missouri and Florida State with hopes of reaching 10 wins in back to back seasons for the first time since 2008-2009.

5. Auburn Tigers

Auburn narrowly escaped an upset bid from Ole Miss this weekend in a 20-14 battle.  However, freshman quarterback Bo Nix had another strong performance. For the third time in his last 5 games, the highly touted prospect boasted a passer rating of above 130 and threw for 340 yards.  He also added a score on the ground. Auburn’s defense continues to be impressive as it has not surrendered more than 23 points all season. While a conference title appearance is virtually out of the question for the Tigers, they will continue their pursuit of a New Year’s Six bowl this week, with the chance to add a huge win to their resume in the form of the Georgia Bulldogs.

6. Texas A&M Aggies

The Aggies secured their bowl eligibility by beating up on Texas-San Antonio this week and pushed their winning streak to three games.  A&M has been a staple in the sixth spot within our power rankings due to their consistently solid play. Quarterback Kellen Mond continues to play veteran football and running back Isaiah Spiller was able to rack up over 200 yards on the ground this past week.  The Aggies will have a bye this coming Saturday, which will be a great opportunity to prepare and brace for matchups with South Carolina, Georgia and LSU in the coming weeks.

7. Kentucky Wildcats

Kentucky continues to stay afloat within a tough SEC this season.  It was no secret they lost their top players on both sides of the football to the draft, but with recently transformed wide receiver Lynn Bowden at quarterback, the Wildcats have dominated the ground game in recent weeks.  Kentucky finds itself in a very favorable position, needing to only go 2-2 in their final four to become bowl eligible. They will host Tennessee this week in Lexington.

8. Missouri Tigers

After an inexplicable loss to Vanderbilt just three weeks ago, Missouri continued to skid after falling 29-7 to Kentucky last Saturday.  The bye week could not have come at a better time for head coach Barry Odom’s team after consecutive losses. Since Week One, the Tigers have been difficult to figure out as they opened the season with a horrific loss to Wyoming then proceeded to win 5 in a row.  Now they find themselves 5-3 and the road does not get any easier from here. Missouri will travel to Athens to play Georgia before hosting Florida the following week.

9. South Carolina Gamecocks

South Carolina continues to fly a bit under the radar within the SEC.  After a stretch of beating Kentucky and Georgia just a few weeks ago, they gave Florida a good test and beat a sputtering Vanderbilt team handily this week at home.  Senior wide receiver Bryan Edwards continues to be a standout for the Gamecocks as he caught 14 passes against Vanderbilt for over 130 yards and a touchdown. South Carolina has a very interesting game this week against Appalachian State.  App State dropped their first game of the season against Georgia Southern last week, but are 7-1 and have had a very impressive year. However, if South Carolina wants to keep it’s bowl hopes alive, this is likely a game that must be won with Texas A&M and Clemson still on their schedule.

10. Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee continues to improve and with their most difficult games behind them, it seems more and more likely that the Vols will make a bowl game for the first time since 2016.  After back to back 20+ point wins, Coach Pruitt’s team has settled into a groove during the middle portion of this season. This week, they will travel to Lexington to clash with an improving Kentucky team.

11. Mississippi State Bulldogs

After a convincing win over Arkansas this past week, the Bulldogs have positioned themselves rather well to make a bowl charge.  Their offense tallied over 600 yards against the Razorbacks and quarterback Tommy Stevens was an efficient 12-18 against an albeit weak Arkansas team. Following their bye week, they will clash with number two ranked Alabama in a game that seems like a longshot.  But after that contest, they will have Abilene Christian at home and conclude with in state rival Ole Miss, likely with a bowl berth on the line.

12. Ole Miss Rebels

For the second week in a row, Ole Miss has come up just short against obviously more talented SEC opponents.  This week, the Rebels pulled within six points of the 11th ranked Auburn Tigers, but quarterback John Rhys Plumlee was unable to get off a last second hail mary attempt to beat the Tigers.  However, the freshman Plumlee continues to be impressive, especially running the football as he racked up another 92 yards on the ground bringing his total to 600 for the season. The Rebels will need to win out in order to make a bowl.  Their quest will begin this week against New Mexico State at home.

13. Vanderbilt Commodores

Sigh.  After quarterback Mo Hasan showed so much promise in the Commodores huge upset win over Missouri just two weeks ago, the junior was unable to go this week in Columbia, contributing to a boring loss to the Gamecocks.  With Hasan out, grad transfer Riley Neal got the start and after an impressive first drive, he went down with a concussion. So, head coach Mason turned to Deuce Wallace at quarterback. His lack of success sparked Vanderbilt fans to call for freshman Allan Walters.  With a trip to Gainesville coming this week, things are looking bleaker than ever for Mason’s injury riddled Commodores.

14. Arkansas Razorbacks

Yikes.  Arkansas was pummelled by a Mississippi State team that had lost its previous four games this past Saturday.  The Razorbacks surrendered 640 yards of total offense to the Bulldogs, including 460 on the ground. Outside of junior running back Rakeem Boyd, no one on this team has had particularly notable success.  However, they do have the chance to host Western Kentucky this week, a game that should be very winnable.

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