Another chapter in the epic Alabama-LSU rivalry is in the books, as the Crimson Tide extended their win streak over the Bayou Bengals to five with their finest performance of the season.
With the Tide victory, the top three in the SEC has pretty much cemented itself for now, as it would be hard to argue with Alabama, LSU, and Florida being at the top of the rankings in that respective order. The bottom three, the Triumvirate of Terrible, have also established themselves as the three worst in the league, though the order in which they fall seems to rotate every week. Besides that, it's quite a mess sorting through the league (save Kentucky, who's fading fast). Doesn't that sound familiar?
The problem with the SEC this season is that there are a lot of teams with plenty of talent in certain areas, but obvious and fatal flaws in others. Thus, we get situations where Arkansas beats Ole Miss who beat Auburn who beat Texas A&M who beat Arkansas who beat Auburn. Toss in Tennessee and Georgia from the East and it gets really complicated.
Nevertheless, the SBN SEC writers get paid the big (monopoly) bucks to sort through this mess, and those valiant efforts can be tracked as always over at Team Speed Kills.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide. Saturday night's performance against LSU was the Saban-Kiffin love child's masterpiece. The Crimson Tide perfectly blended crafty artwork with suffocating strength, and the result was a dominating performance over a very good Tigers team. Alabama's run defense is without question the best in all of college football, and many would argue it's one of the best of all-time. Also, Derrick Henry has officially become what Alabama fans envisioned when they saw him torch Oklahoma's defense in the Sugar Bowl two years ago. The Alabama offensive line has been very inconsistent this year, yet Henry continues to put up monster numbers. Watching him completely wear down and kill the will of the LSU defense in the final quarter was mesmerizing.
2. LSU Tigers. LSU's offense was absolutely over-matched by Alabama's defense, and the Tiger defense eventually caved in the second half trying to keep the team upright. LSU still has a ton to play for, as their playoff chances aren't completely out of reach, but Les Miles needs to do a better job of getting his play-makers the ball in space. People will probably try to lessen Leonard Fournette's greatness because of this game, and they will be completely wrong in doing so. The LSU offensive line never gave the guy a chance.
3. Florida Gators. Jim McElwain's young group learned a hard lesson in what it takes to win a championship on Saturday morning. Nobody wins a championship of any kind without having to dig deep on a bad day and take care of business. With that being said, the Gators can't play like that again on offense if they hope to have any chance of beating whoever emerges from the West in Atlanta. For now, let's just chalk it up to a young team overlooking an over-matched opponent.
4. Mississippi State Bulldogs. While the rest of the SEC continues to beat each other up, Dak Prescott and the Bulldogs just keep winning. Sure, they haven't played the toughest schedule in the conference thus far, but State keeps taking care of business in fine fashion. Mizzou's offense is awful, of course, but 34 points in Columbia against that defense in the pouring rain is impressive. Alabama better watch out for the annual hangover match-up with the Bullies.
5. Ole Miss Rebels. It really does suck to lose a game on a fluky play doesn't it, Rebels? Ole Miss has a dynamic passing attack, but the defense just hasn't lived up to last season's standards. Regardless, this is a 7-3 team who has lost on the road to two top-twenty teams and should have won this past weekend against an Arkansas team that is once again peaking late. The Rebels would still be favored over any team below them on this list at a neutral site.
6. Arkansas Razorbacks. Razorback fans will surely be upset about being below Ole Miss in this spot, but the ugly September has to count for something, and Ole Miss would open as a favorite if they played again this weekend. Either way, Arkansas is really, really dangerous. Once again, this is not a team you want to play in November. The crazy thing is that it's not been the defense or even the run game that's elevated this team. It's been the passing attack led by Brandon Allen. He's been tearing it up all season and is making a real run at the 2nd team All-SEC quarterback spot. With LSU in a let-down spot and Mississippi State and Missouri both at home, could the Hogs finish 2nd in the West?
7. Tennessee Volunteers. Just when everyone started to give Tennessee credit they go out and lay an egg against South Carolina. If the Gamecocks were any good Butch Jones would be having to answer some tough questions right now.
8. Georgia Bulldogs. With the program apparently in shambles, Mark Richt righted the ship a bit with a dominating performance against a reeling Kentucky team. This defense is legit, and the Dawgs got back to dominating at the point of attack on offense, rushing for 300 yards even without Chubb.
9. Auburn Tigers. Will Muschamp's defense had its finest performance of the season in Kyle Field on Saturday, picking off Kyler Murray three times and holding the once-vaunted Aggie passing attack to a miserable 3.9 yards per pass. Jeremy Johnson looked solid in his return to the starting position, and Jovon Robinson is emerging as the star many thought he would be this year. This is a dangerous team right now.
10. Texas A&M Aggies. People have asked all year whether or not the Aggies would be tough enough to battle some of the better teams in the SEC West. Well, not only is this team physically soft, they are mentally soft too. As soon as they get popped in the mouth they lay down. Also, it doesn't matter how many five-star receivers are on the roster, if the quarterback play is sub-par, an Air Raid team that relies too much on finesse will get stifled. Kyler Murray has a long way to go and Jake Hubenak just isn't the answer. Kyle Allen needs to get better soon.
11. Kentucky Wildcats. How bad have the bottom three teams in the SEC been this year? Not even Kentucky's amazing free-fall has dropped them below 11th.
12. Vanderbilt Commodores. Vanderbilt's defense really is very good, and has been all season. Forget the final score against Houston, the Dores are getting better. The offense is still terrible, but Vandy has a chance to officially drag Kentucky down into the cellar while simultaneously clawing their way out this weekend.
13. South Carolina Gamecocks. Don't look now but that's two respectable road performances in a row for Zombie Carolina. Perry Orth has officially entrenched himself as the starting quarterback, and that's helped this offense finally gain a bit of an identity.