It’s the week of the Third Saturday in October, which means the temperature is dropping, the sun is setting earlier in the day, and the Crimson Tide will meet on the gridiron with the Tennessee Volunteers. The game certainly hasn’t meant as much in recent years as it used to, but this week’s top ten showdown should help reignite the flames of the SEC’s greatest rivalry.
This time of the year also marks the midway point of the season, and the SEC landscape is truly starting to solidify. After another week full of conference clashes, this week’s power poll continues to take shape. Honestly, it hasn’t changed much in a few weeks, but what can we say? That’s the kind of accurate, hard-hitting hot takes you can expect when you stumble upon this little corner of the internet.
To the polls:
- Alabama Crimson Tide. This is easily the most explosive offense Alabama has had under Nick Saban, and arguably one of the best ever to don the crimson and white. Jalen Hurts has the maturity of a seasoned veteran, despite being a true freshman. It has yet to be seen whether or not this young backfield can move the chains when trailing by a score late in the game, but they’ve not put themselves in that position yet. Defensively, the secondary has had some lapses at times, but the front seven has been feasting on the competition.
- Texas A&M Aggies. There’s a reason this team has held steady at the #2 spot since week one: they are really good. This is not the same old Aggie team. Kevin Sumlin’s group can run the ball and defend, just like any other old-school SEC power. They struggled a bit defensively on a yards per play basis against Tennessee on Saturday, but they also forced seven(!) turnovers. That game in Tuscaloosa is going to be huge.
- Ole Miss Rebels. It was good to see Chad Kelly hitting the field this past Friday, even on a bye week. That’s true dedication right there.
- Tennessee Volunteers. What a roller coaster ride this team has been on the past month. Former Alabama running back Alvin Kamara put on one of the most impressive performances of the season against a salty A&M defense, and the Vols put up some serious numbers. However, the hits keep coming on defense, as Tennessee seemed to be racking up on the body count in College Station. The loss of Jalen Reeves-Mabin cannot be overstated.
- Arkansas Razorbacks. The Hogs’ hold over the final spot in the top 5 is starting to get a bit shaky, but they will retain it for now. Austin Allen is a warrior, and the Razorbacks’ ability to toss the ball all around the field out of heavy-set formations is both beautiful and perfectly Bielema.
- Auburn Tigers. Certainly going to get some hate in the comments for this one, but Auburn is hot right now. Kamryn Pettway is a hoss, and the offensive line is finally playing at the level many expected them to before the season. The Tiger defense has been one of the biggest surprises of 2016, not because anyone thought they lacked for talent, but because the last time Kevin Steele oversaw a legitimately good defense was, well, hmmm...
- LSU Tigers. Hurricane Matthew prevented the world from getting to see what DACOACHO had in store for his second act as LSU interim coach, so LSU will remain stagnant in the middle of the rankings for now.
- Georgia Bulldogs. The good news from this past Sunday’s game against South Carolina? Georgia absolutely dominated in the trenches (326 rushing yards on 6.5 YPC compared to only 30 yards rushing for the Gamecocks), and that will win you plenty of football games. The passing game, on the other hand, was downright deplorable (29 yards on 5/17 passing). Jacob Eason is really the perfect microcosm for this young team: extremely talented, but raw. Kirby Smart will likely have them playing at a consistently high level in the near future, but that may not be until 2017.
- Florida Gators. Determined to prevent any opponent from crossing the goal-line into the endzone in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium this season, the Gators went to off-the-field measures as they outright cancelled their game with LSU. Keep in mind that every other team in the path of Matthew was able to come to a solution this past weekend. Also, Luke Del Rio should conveniently return this week! How about that?
- Missouri Tigers. Speaking of teams that were negatively affected by Florida’s cancellation, guess who doesn’t get a bye week advantage for their game with the Gators?
- Kentucky Wildcats. Don’t look now, but Kentucky is actually starting to play decent football. With wins over both South Carolina and Vandy, they are a win over Missouri away from sweeping the cellar of the SEC East clean. They may end up deeply regretting blowing that massive lead against Southern Miss, because it could be the difference between going bowling or not.
- Mississippi State Bulldogs. I mentioned last week that we should pump the brakes on the Gus Bus simply because we haven’t seen it produce against a non-Sun Belt defense yet. Let’s just say I’m sticking to that statement, and not because Auburn didn’t look good on Saturday.
- South Carolina Gamecocks. Will Muschamp is starting to make his mark at least a little bit on the defensive side of the ball.
- Vanderbilt Commodores. After having lost to both South Carolina and Kentucky, it’s hard to envision this team winning a conference game in 2016. That’s not exactly what Derek Mason needed.