With week seven of the 2016 college football season forever in the history books, the SEC has begun to structure itself into three separate tiers:
- The organized, easy-to-follow top four
- The strong, yet chaotic, middle
- The bottom six, now featuring the Georgia Bulldogs, which can be best described as what the ACC Coastal used to be.
It’s been a relatively-down year for the conference, but it certainly hasn’t lacked for intrigue. The Ole Miss-Arkansas showdown was fantastic Saturday night. With three more SEC West clashes set for this upcoming weekend (all ranked match-ups, by the way), on-lookers certainly won’t be disappointed tuning into the country’s finest college football again this Saturday. In fact, it’d be pretty surprising if there isn’t an upset between the three games, which will inevitably ruin the three tiers listed above.
To the poll:
- Alabama Crimson Tide. The Tide turned the ball over near both end zones, left points on the field a couple of times, and still beat a good, albeit depleted, Tennessee team by nearly 40 points. What more is there to be said about this group? Jalen Hurts has to be the most mature true freshman of all time. Speaking of which, he has a good chance of becoming the greatest quarterback in Alabama football history if he continues to progress. He missed a number of throws this past weekend, but his ability to hurt teams with his feet once again made up for it.
- Texas A&M Aggies. The Ags must have spent their bye week watching the Alabama-Tennessee film with mouths agape.
- Arkansas Razorbacks. This is the only logical spot for the Hogs after defeating Chad Kelly and the Rebels in a shootout yet again. If Rawleigh Williams and the Razorback offensive line can continue to impose their will on the ground, this could end up being one of the best offenses in the country.
- Ole Miss Rebels. Despite being ten point favorites going into the game, the Rebels never really looked comfortable, as they seemed to be fighting an uphill battle the whole game. Kelly had one of his lesser performances, as the Razorbacks did a nice job of taking away his primary reads, and that ultimately spelled doom for a team that relies too heavily on the passing attack to bail them out. This is still a really good team, but pretty soon these losses are going to wear on the team’s psyche. Keep an eye on the Rebels emotional state moving forward.
- Tennessee Volunteers. Now we’ve reached the muddled middle, where one can make an argument for any of the next four teams for the #5 spot. Despite the blowout loss at the hands of Alabama, I’m willing to give the Vols a bit of a pass due to the amount of attrition and the emotional roller coaster that Butch Jones’s team has gone through over the course of the last month. There isn’t a team in America that needs a bye week more than the Vols do.
- Auburn Tigers. With Arkansas coming to town this upcoming weekend, Gus Malzahn will finally get to prove whether or not they’ve truly fixed the offense since the beginning of the year.
- LSU Tigers. Another week, another Saturday night beat-down in Death Valley. Sure, the Tigers toyed around with Southern Miss for a half, but that outcome was never in doubt. The Bayou Bengals scored more points than they ran plays. This is a scary team right now. Also, don’t think Ed Orgeron forgot about the program that fired him, who just so happens to be traveling to Baton Rouge for a Saturday night tilt this week.
- Florida Gators. This spot may be too low for the Gators, who throttled Missouri 40-14 this past weekend, but the offense still has a lot to prove. Luke Del Rio had a poor outing against a mediocre defense (18/38 with 3 interceptions), and three of Florida’s touchdowns came from defense and special teams. With that being said, by God is this pass defense good. Drew Lock has had a pretty strong second season for Missouri. Against the Gators however, he completed just 4/18 passes for 39 yards and two interceptions, which were both taken back to the house. This isn’t the first, or even the second, time that an opposing quarterback has put up that kind of stat-line against Florida. It’s a refreshing sight to behold in today’s era of college football.
- Georgia Bulldogs. Yes, they just had an embarrassing loss to Vanderbilt, but there is no way this team would be an underdog to anyone else below it. It’s way too early in Kirby Smart’s tenure to make any kind of meaningful analysis of his ability as a head coach, but come on, the Dawgs chased Mark Richt out for this?
- Kentucky Wildcats. I guess? The ‘Cats are tied for 2nd in the SEC East right now, and they have a very winnable home game against Mississippi State upcoming.
- Missouri Tigers. Mizzou is the epitome of a young team playing under a new coaching staff: they are much better at home than they are on the road. They have played some pretty solid football in Columbia, but yikes they have been terrible away from Faurot Field.
- Mississippi State Bulldogs. How bad have the Bulldogs been this year? Their overtime loss at BYU may have been their best performance of the season.
- Vanderbilt Commodores. Massive win for Derek Mason and the ‘Dores. Who would have thought Mason’s first conference road victory would come at the expense of Georgia? Also, Zach Cunningham better be on the All-SEC 1st team this year.
- South Carolina Gamecocks. The worst kind of bye weeks are always the ones where your team falls in the power rankings because lowly Vandy finally got a win.