What a rough day for the SEC. Four rivalry games against ACC teams ended up in losses for Georgia, South Carolina, Kentucky and Florida. Of course, this is the sad end of the regular season, so I’ll post an abbreviated power ranking after the SEC Championship game next Monday and a complete one after the bowls.
Alabama (No. 1 last week) – Saturday night’s edition of the Iron Bowl should have been renamed the Bend and Break Bowl. Both defenses struggled throughout, but Alabama proved it’s the best team in the SEC. Again. By the way, Amari Cooper is still open.
Missouri (No. 4) – The Tigers had ample opportunity to collapse, but ran the three-game SEC gauntlet to end the regular season to win the SEC East and denying Georgia the chance to play for the conference title. Missouri’s solid defense better be ready to cover Cooper.
Ole Miss (No. 7) – Talk about salvaging your season. Obviously, those three losses destroyed a promising year, but the Rebels not won the Egg Bowl, they practically crushed Mississippi State’s chances at landing a coveted spot in the College Football Playoff.
Mississippi State (No. 2) – There’s nothing like losing to your in-state rival and dropping out of the CFP on the same day. That’s what happened to the Bulldogs, who were No. 1 just three weeks ago, but lost two of their past three to Alabama and Ole Miss.
Georgia (No. 3) – What a miserable weekend for the Bulldogs. First, Missouri clinches the East title with its win over Arkansas on Friday. Second, a ridiculous pooch kickoff with 18 seconds left led to Georgia Tech’s win and dropping Georgia to a second-tier bowl.
Auburn (No. 5) – You would think 628 yards and 44 points would be enough to win a game, wouldn’t you? Sorry, not against Alabama, which scored 55 points in the Iron Bowl. Auburn’s year-long defensive problems cost coordinator Ellis Johnson his job on Sunday.
LSU (No. 8) – The highlight of LSU’s season and a glimpse into the future happened when Leonard Fournette steamrolled a Texas A&M defensive player on his way to a score on Thanksgiving. Fournette is one of many players who will be back for the Tigers next year.
Florida (No. 9) – A pick six and kicking four field goals instead of scoring touchdowns doomed the Gators in Will Muschamp’s last game. Don’t cry for Muschamp. There’s already an opening for a defensive coordinator at Auburn. More will follow.
Arkansas (No. 6) – The Dogs for Hogs fans certainly were excited when Arkansas led Missouri 14-3 early in Friday’s game. They were more disappointed in Arkansas’ terrible fourth-quarter play calling and in the result.
Tennessee (No. 11) – Merry Christmas to the Vols, who are heading to a bowl for the first time since 2010. There’s plenty of hope for the future with Josh Dobbs at QB and Jalen Hurd at RB. Now, where will the Vols go bowling? Possibly either Memphis or Nashville.
South Carolina (No. 10) – How bad is South Carolina’s defense? Deshaun Watson played with a torn ACL and still led Clemson to 491 yards of offense and 35 points in snapping a five-game losing streak to the Gamecocks. Expect changes to the defensive staff.
Texas A&M (No. 12) – Freshmen, freshmen and more freshmen played for the Aggies, who lost five of their final seven to finish 7-5. Again, like so many teams in the conference, a lack of a solid defense was problematic in so many games.
Kentucky (No. 13) – That bowl game was going to happen this year. The Wildcats just knew it. They were 5-1 on Oct. 11 and needed just one more to earn that December trip. That was before they lost six straight – five SEC games – to end another disappointing season.
Vanderbilt (No. 14) – There’s always next year. Of course, they say that a lot at Vanderbilt. There’s also plenty of room for improvement for a team that finished 0-8 in the SEC.