Welcome to our Monday List, our weekly ranking of the SEC’s 14 football teams.
Think of the rankings as a “right here, right now” thing. Instead of a snapshot of the whole season, the rankings instead reflect how each team is playing right now; thus, in some cases teams are ranked ahead of teams that beat them earlier in the season.
14. South Carolina (3-9)
Last week: L, 37-32 to Clemson. Next: Season over.
The buzz: The Gamecocks showed some fight against their archrival. This is the Gamecocks’ worst season since they went 0-11 in 1999, Lou Holtz’s first year at the school.
13. Kentucky (5-7)
Last week: L, 38-24 to Louisville. Next: Season over.
The buzz: If the season ended in early October, Mark Stoops would have a winning record. But it doesn’t and he doesn’t. UK started 5-1 last season and finished 5-7. UK started 4-1 this season and finished 5-7. Everyone together now: Next season is important for Stoops’ job security.
12. Missouri (5-7)
Last week: L, 28-3 at Arkansas. Next: Season likely over.
The buzz: There will be a handful of 5-7 teams in the postseason, and Mizzou has a shot because of its APR numbers. But, man, do Tigers fans want to see this offense trot out on the field one more time?
11. Vanderbilt (4-8)
Last week: L, 53-28 at Tennessee. Next: Season over.
The buzz: No question Vandy made big strides on defense, the last game notwithstanding. But until the Commodores get an offensive pulse, they will continue to be an SEC bottom-feeder.
10. Auburn (6-6)
Last week: L, 29-13 to Alabama. Next: Bowl game, TBA.
The buzz: This was not a memorable season for the Tigers. There were high expectations but middling results.
9. Georgia (9-3)
Last week: W, 13-7 at Georgia Tech. Next: Bowl game, TBA.
The buzz: The Mark Richt era — all but one game of it, anyway — ended with a sort of whimper as the Bulldogs eased past Georgia Tech. While the Bulldogs won nine times this season, the only team they’ve beaten with a winning record is Georgia Southern. Every other vanquished foe is .500 or worse.
8. Texas A&M (8-4)
Last week: L, 19-7 at LSU. Next: Bowl game, TBA.
The buzz: When you make $5 million a year and you’ve lost 13 league games in three seasons, you can’t feel too comfortable. Kevin Sumlin very likely will be coaching for his job next season.
7. Florida (10-2)
Last week: L, 26-2 to Florida State. Next: Saturday, vs. Alabama in the SEC championship game.
The buzz: The defense is championship-worthy; the offense is awful — again. That Jim McElwain and his staff were able to coax 10 wins out of this group is amazing. But it seems a good bet the Gators are going to head into the offseason on a three-game losing streak. As for this Saturday’s game, if violence makes you squeamish, do not watch. It is going to be ugly.
6. Tennessee (8-4)
Last week: W, 53-28 over Vanderbilt. Next: Bowl game, TBA.
The buzz: Ahh, that old Vols refrain is ringing out again: “You know, we really are the best team in the East.” That’s probably true. Alas, you can’t give up a last-minute TD to a division rival in September if you want to wear the crown in November.
5. LSU (8-3)
Last week: W, 19-7 over Texas A&M. Next: Bowl game, TBA.
The buzz: The Tigers got some of their mojo back by shutting down Texas A&M in the regular-season finale. And Les Miles will be back. You know, it would be sort of weird not having “The Hat” in the SEC.
4. Arkansas (7-5)
Last week: W, 28-3 vs. Missouri. Next: Bowl game, TBA.
The buzz: The Hogs have won five of their past six, with the only loss in that span by one point to Mississippi State when a “gimme” field goal instead was blocked. Still, there’s a big sense of “what if?” because of early losses to Toledo and Texas Tech.
3. Mississippi State (8-4)
Last week: L, 38-27 to Ole Miss. Next: Bowl game, TBA.
The buzz: A defense that showed cracks all season fell apart in the Egg Bowl. Still, eight wins in the SEC West is an impressive total and a “good” bowl seemingly awaits.
2. Ole Miss (9-3)
Last week: W, 38-27 at Mississippi State. Next: Bowl game, TBA.
The buzz: At one point, the season appeared to be spiraling out of control. But the Rebels have won four of their last five and are a good bet to go to the Sugar Bowl. And if not for that wacky over-the-shoulder lateral against Arkansas, they would be playing for the SEC title this weekend.
1. Alabama (11-1)
Last week: W, 29-13 at Auburn. Next: Saturday, vs. Florida in SEC championship game.
The buzz: The Tide rode Derrick Henry to the Iron Bowl win over Auburn and it figures to ride him again Saturday against Florida. Then comes a playoff game.
(Follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin)
(Feature photo by JOHN DAVID MERCER/USA TODAY SPORTS)
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