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sec power rankings.. lsu #1, auburn #2, uga #3 and the rest..


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brian golden

staff writer

in the west, lsu can effectively wrap it up with a win at 'bama this week. on the east side, tennessee and georgia are neck and neck with the vols holding the tiebreaking head-to-head win. how do they all stack up on a neutral field? let's check it out.1. lsu the tigers coast in to t-town this saturday, and hopefully their pulses have slowed after three consecutive down to the wire battles. lsu is an 8-point favorite at 'bama, and the defense has a lot at stake, after getting violated in three straight outings. they've lost their #1 spot in the nation's rankings; don't expect them to lose their top spot in the sec east.

2. auburn this tiger d is easily a top-5 unit right now; after a slow start, auburn's stoppers are 8th nationally in yards and 9th in scoring. watching them feast on ole miss this saturday was like& well& watching a tiger feast on an old rebel with a huge moustache. raise your hand if you can't wait for auburn to visit sanford.

3. georgia the bulldogs got a season-turning win over florida saturday in the cocktail party, and now it's home for at three-game sanford stand before the season ender in atlanta. knowshon moreno might finally get the national press he deserves after the huge outing vs. the gators, and let's hope he stays healthy. the depth chart looks bleak below the freshman sensation.

4. florida despite all the talent, what's obvious now is that florida has some big holes on defense and lacks the overall talent to fend off teams that are lying in wait. november 10th's spurrier bowl is an elimination game in the east; do the gators have the horses to handle the gamecocks? taking the nation's 87th best pass defense in to columbia is a big no-no.

5. alabama nick saban: time to earn your keep. this weekend's clash against lsu is the kind of game that 'bama fans are paying their multi-gazillion dollar coach to win. the tide will need a very special effort to move the ball against a rested and hungry lsu defense. lsu's weakness is their poor protection of matt flynn. at just 10th in the sec in sacks, 'bama may not be able to capitalize.

6. tennessee the vols crack me up. tennessee's squeaker win over south carolina was a classic example of why some folks in college football are absolutely insane. after ut got two chances on a last-minute field goal, and then sc's ryan succop missed his try at glory, philip fulmer pounded his chest in a post game presser, saying: "everybody who thought our season was over just doesn't know what tennessee football is all about." if either of those two unlikely events don't happen in the final seconds, both of which were totally out of his control, fulmer might be getting a pink slip.

7. south carolina the shine is off the gamecocks a little bit, now that the kentucky win doesn't look so great and the offensive struggles at lsu look even worse. seems like blake mitchell is back at qb& for now. mitchell tossed for 290 at knoxville, but this is steve spurrier and his gnat-like attention span we're talking about. chris smelley better keep the helmet on. after the 14-catch, 151-yard game at ut, maybe kenny mckinley will get some of the great press he deserves.

8. mississippi state msu got a landmark win over kentucky saturday, and now the bulldogs are a win away from going bowling. i've beat the sylvester croom drum all year long, and the bulldogs finally put it all together at commonwealth stadium, soundly beating a uk team that beat lsu just two weeks ago. could this team go 8-4? probably not, but with two weeks to prepare for alabama, and then arkansas and ole miss, the bar should definitely be set at 7-5.

9. kentucky the 'cats have fallen hard and fast after beating lsu just two weeks ago. andre woodson won't be going to new york, and the rush d is still getting handled, giving up 190+ rush yards a game (11th in sec). sometimes you don't realize until a team loses a guy just how valuable he was. woodson has gotten all the hype, but uk's offense struggled with rafael little. the defense is now 11th in the conference in scoring, and 5th in the east is looking very likely.

10. arkansas i'm sorry, but i'm singing the same tune with the hawgs week after week. when will they beat a bcs team? here are the five wins so far: troy, n. texas, chattanooga, fiu and ole miss. this late in the year, when so many other teams have played the teeth of their schedules, this disparity renders arkansas' stats almost meaningless. all we have to go on is dmac's highlight reel and the hope that maybe, just maybe, the weak schedule has arkansas more rested than its upcoming opponents, south carolina and tennessee.

11. vanderbilt the vandy d is an unheralded unit, led by senior lbs jonathan goff and marcus buggs. the unit is 14th nationally in yards allowed, and continues to pick up an offense that has been plum awful at 105th nationally in yards and 111th in passing yards. despite the big win over sc two weeks ago, the 'dores lineup with florida, kentucky and tennessee the next three weeks, before getting wake forest at, in all likelihood, 5-6. the nation will be sick of the sec, but if vandy gets one more conference win and then plays wake tough, they'll deserve a bowl bid.

12. ole miss and, trailing the pack by 25 lengths: the rebs. at 12th in the sec in the following categories: rush o, scoring o, rush d, total d, punting, punt returns and turnover margin, and without even the future to look forward to (ben jarvus green ellis and seth green are both seniors), kinko's may be expecting a work order for resume printing from head coach ed orgeron and his staff very soon.

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