Power Rankings Week Seven: Tide lead top-heavy conference

The SEC is as top-heavy as its ever been, with the Alabama Crimson Tide pacing the pack.

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Vanderbilt plays against Ole Miss at home on Oct. 31, 2020. (Hustler Multimedia/Truman McDaniel)

Ethan Wacker, Staff Writer

The Southeastern Conference (SEC) power rankings have hardly changed the past couple weeks, thanks in part to bye weeks and cancellations. This week, that trend figures to continue; so far, four games—Alabama-LSU, Texas A&M-Tennessee, Mississippi State-Auburn and Georgia-Missouri—have been cancelled due to COVID-19 complications, leading to what should be a quiet week in the SEC. Heading into Week Seven, here’s where the 14 teams stack up.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

The Alabama Crimson Tide are far and away the best team in the SEC to this point in the season. They remain undefeated (6-0), showcasing a tremendous offensive attack with Mac Jones at quarterback and Najee Harris running the ball like one of the best running backs in college football. Additionally, at times, this defense has shown flashes of dominance, including a shutout win against Mississippi State two weekends ago. 

Head coach Nick Saban is delivering exactly what the nation has come to expect from him: an elite college football team. The football program at Alabama is carrying on its tradition of success and seems primed to return to the National Championship game in 2021.

2. Florida Gators

The Florida Gators have consistently been one of the most entertaining and dominant teams to watch on Saturdays. After a close 38-41 loss to Texas A&M, the Gators have gone 2-0 with wins over the Missouri Tigers and the Georgia Bulldogs. They have been consistently great on offense, especially with senior quarterback Kyle Trask throwing for 22 touchdowns and nearly 2,000 yards in the first five games of the season. Against Georgia, Trask threw for 474 yards and four touchdowns while connecting with ten different receivers. 

With the remainder of their schedule looking relatively light, the Gators will be looking to sweep the board and continue on their successful trajectory. The Florida Gators are most definitely a team to watch as the 2020 season reaches the postseason.

3. Texas A&M

Texas A&M has had a very strong season throughout their first six games. With a dominant performance against South Carolina this past week, where they won 48-3 behind five touchdowns through the air, the Aggies are riding a wave of success. Jimbo Fisher is running a well-coached team that is operating at a very high level. 

With three of their next four games against struggling SEC teams in Ole Miss, Tennessee and LSU, they are poised to finish the season strong and possibly carry their momentum into the Playoff. The only reason they are ranked below the Gators on this list is because they have not been as consistently dominant. Only beating the worst team in the conference (Vanderbilt) by five and then losing your next game is not the greatest way to start the season, but this team has bounced back and put themselves in a very good position.

4. Georgia Bulldogs

The Bulldogs have had a strong start to the season, but following this week’s loss to Florida, which now makes them 4-2, they have fallen a tier below the top three. Georgia started the season strong but started slowing down in the past couple weeks. After understandably losing to the Crimson Tide powerhouse, Georgia put up only 14 points against Kentucky, a team they were projected to beat by a wide margin. Quarterback Stetson Bennett has had a very poor stretch of games, throwing six interceptions in the last three games accompanied by an abysmal completion percentage over that same span. However, moving away from the negatives, this Bulldogs team is very strong defensively and has found success rushing the ball with Zamir White. 

With their next four games being against Mizzou, South Carolina, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt, this team is in a very good position to gain some momentum before the playoffs.

5. Auburn Tigers

The Auburn Tigers are a tough team to figure out. One week, they look like an elite offense. However, other times, they will score just six points in a blowout loss, like they did against Georgia, or lose to a team at the bottom of the conference, as in their 22-30 loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks. These past two weeks, the offense has been on fire. This was typified by a 48-11 blowout win against LSU this past weekend. Quarterback Bo Nix is looking like a very solid player, both on his feet and through the air, rushing for two touchdowns and throwing for four in the last two weeks. 

With two of their next four games being against Alabama and Texas A&M, viewers will have the opportunity to get a definitive judgment of this team and their hopes for this season.

6. Arkansas Razorbacks

The Razorbacks have consistently been a mid-level team for the first six games of the 2020 season, showing improvement from their 4-20 record over the past two seasons. With a 3-3 record, the Razorbacks have won against every team ranked below them and lost to every team ranked higher. That is what leads them to occupy the sixth spot on this list. Quarterback Feleipe Franks has been playing very well, throwing six touchdowns in the past two games with no interceptions. 

Remaining in its schedule, Arkansas has two winnable games as well as games against Florida and Alabama. It is looking likely that their .500 win percentage will continue for the remainder of the season. Matching up against the Gators this upcoming week, the Razorbacks have to hope the potential of Feleipe Franks can get them an unlikely win and push them into a good position moving forward with the season.

7. Missouri Tigers

The Missouri Tigers have had a pretty turbulent season thus far. Every game has been relatively entertaining for fans, including last week’s 17-41 loss against the Florida Gators. This outcome was pretty predictable, but the Tigers managed to keep the game entertaining enough. Apart from a loss to Tennessee, the only losses this team has suffered have been at the hands of the top teams in the conference. 

With the Georgia Bulldogs being their next matchup, it will be tough to get back to their winning ways this upcoming week. However, the four games following the Georgia matchup are against Mississippi State, Arkansas, Vanderbilt and South Carolina. With Connor Bazelak and Larry Rountree playing well, they could end this season with a 6-4 record if things go right. That would be considered a pretty successful season for the Tigers, who have some hope and potential to build on for future seasons.

8. LSU Tigers

The reigning National Champions have had what some would call a fall from grace. After a promising win against South Carolina in which they scored 52 points, they recently fell to Auburn 48-11 in an embarrassing loss. Head coach Ed Orgeron certainly can’t be happy with how the team is playing, but there are some positives to take out of this season. Before his injury, quarterback Miles Brennan was playing very well. Also, despite its inconsistencies, the Tigers offense has had high moments this season. 

With all that being said, take caution in being optimistic about the remainder of this season if you are an LSU fan. With games coming up against Florida and Texas A&M, and also what looks to be a competitive matchup against Arkansas, it is unlikely that LSU finishes the season strong, forecasting a very disappointing season for the defending national champions.

9. Ole Miss Rebels

The Ole Miss Rebels have had an inconsistent season. However, one thing has been consistent:their offense is capable of scoring points. Putting up 48 against Alabama, 54 against Vanderbilt, 42 against Kentucky, 35 against Florida and never ending a game with under 20 points says a lot about this offensive unit. Quarterback Matt Corral has been playing very well lately, passing for seven touchdowns and rushing for two in the last two games. 

Aside from playing Texas A&M on Nov. 21, the remaining schedule for the Rebels consists of teams below .500. This season has revealed some serious potential in the Ole Miss program, and this is quickly becoming a team to watch on Saturdays.

10. Kentucky Wildcats

With a 2-4 record, the Kentucky Wildcats find themselves near the bottom of the conference. After an abhorrent offensive performance against Georgia in which the Wildcats managed to score just three  points, they are relieved to see that their next matchup is against the winless Vanderbilt Commodores. This is a team in need of a serious momentum shift;after winning 34-7 against Tennessee, they have only managed to score 13 points total. The key to getting this team going is igniting its nonexistent passing attack. The team has had under 100 passing yards in both of the last two games. 

After letting up six passing touchdowns last week, Vanderbilt presents a unique opportunity for the Wildcats to get this part of their offense headed in the right direction. After Vanderbilt, they are set to play Alabama and Florida back-to-back, closing the season with South Carolina. This season is shaping up to be one that the Wildcat program will not remember.

11. Tennessee Volunteers

The Tennessee Volunteers started this season very strong, opening with two wins in which they showcased a strong offense and a cohesive team. However, since then, the team has completely collapsed. They have now lost their last four games, giving them the second-worst losing streak in the conference, behind only the Commodores. This shift from winning to losing has also been accompanied by a decline in the offensive performance of the team, as they went from scoring over 30 points in the first two games of the season to not reaching the 20-point mark since. This most recent loss came at the hands of Arkansas, who completely shut down the team’s passing attack and held the offense to only 13 points. 

With Auburn, Florida, and Texas A&M consisting of three of their next four games, this season once marked by optimism looks to be all but lost.

12. South Carolina Gamecocks

The University of South Carolina Gamecocks find themselves near the bottom of the power rankings yet again. After allowing a combined 100 points in the past two games and only scoring 27 points themselves, it is clear that this team has a lot of work to do. To take a moment to look at the positives: running back Kevin Harris has been pretty good this season, rushing for 574 yards and eight touchdowns through the first six games of the season. Also, the team showed promise against Auburn and Vanderbilt; however, that success was short-lived. Sitting at 2-4, this season doesn’t look to be a successful one for the Gamecocks. 

Three out of their next four games are against Missouri, Kentucky, and Ole Miss, so it is possible for this season to look a bit better in hindsight than it does now. For the time being though, the South Carolina Gamecocks are not having a successful season by most metrics.

13. Mississippi State

Mississippi State has not been a good football team this year. Their most recent win against Vanderbilt cannot be used to define their season, in which they have had a string of terrible losses. After beating LSU in the first game of the season, many expected this team to make some noise in the SEC this year; however, that has not been the case.

 Looking forward to the remainder of their season, the Bulldogs have games against Georgia, Auburn, Missouri, and Ole Miss. It is very possible that this team loses every single one of these remaining games, but it is also possible that they pull out an unlikely win and make this season look a bit better than it actually is.

14. Vanderbilt Commodores

Ah, the Vanderbilt Commodores. At 0-5, they are the clear choice to put on the bottom of this week’s power rankings. To focus first on the positives, Ken Seals is looking like a quarterback with a lot of potential. Coming off of throwing over 300 yards on 46 attempts, it is clear that he holds the keys to this team and is a foundational piece moving forward. Other than that, there isn’t much to talk about. This team’s defense has been terrible all season, and they simply can’t find a way to win games.

With matchups coming up against Florida, Tennessee, Missouri, and Georgia, it is looking like this team may go without a win for the entire season. It is time for Vanderbilt to start asking some serious questions about how to improve their team because being this bad simply shouldn’t be acceptable.