<
>

SEC Week 4 Power Rankings: Alabama still king, but Tennessee is climbing

play
SEC turned upside down on Saturday (1:13)

It all started with Georgia's shocking rout of Ole Miss, Tennessee's 38-0 run to stun Florida, LSU's overturned TD allowing Auburn to prevail and Texas A&M taking care of Arkansas, for a wild day in the SEC. (1:13)

Alabama took care of business against overmatched Kent State, but now has injuries to worry about.

But the two teams that now become very intriguing in the SEC are Texas A&M and Tennessee. We've been burned before, but after huge wins over the weekend, we can't just shoo these two aside. They look like real contenders.

Here's a look at our SEC power rankings after Week 3:

1. Alabama: The Crimson Tide made quick work of Kent State on Saturday, but Nick Saban’s team dealt with its fair share of injuries in the 48-0 victory. The good news was that none of the injuries -- including the one suffered by running back Damien Harris -- appeared to be terribly serious. Alabama should be in good shape when it faces Kentucky in conference play next weekend.

2. Texas A&M: We already had the Aggies at No. 2 in our SEC power rankings before this week, but now they have a firmer grip on that spot after besting previously unbeaten Arkansas 45-24. They have an elite defense and a good running game, which is typically a good formula for success. If Trevor Knight can play like he did Saturday -- mostly mistake free, being a factor with the pass and the run -- then the Aggies might have a shot to sustain their hot start and challenge the Crimson Tide. That's a big if, though.

3. Tennessee: Total jubilation on Rocky Top after a thrilling 38-28 win over Florida. Not only did the Vols snap an 11-game losing streak to the Gators, but they went on a hellacious 38-0 run to do it, gaining 200-plus more yards than Florida in the second half. Tennessee is firmly in the SEC East driver's seat.

4. Ole Miss: There was no blowing a big lead this time. Hugh Freeze’s club took control early against Georgia and kept the throttle down, handing Kirby Smart his first loss as the Bulldogs’ head coach. The 45-14 blowout win was exactly the medicine the Rebels needed after allowing double-digit leads against Florida State and Alabama slip away.

5. Arkansas: The Razorbacks' first loss revealed a flawed run defense -- they gave up 11 plays of 10 or more rushing yards and 366 rushing yards total to Texas A&M -- but there are still some elements of a good team here. Quarterback Austin Allen played well, despite a first-half injury, and showed some real toughness. The Hogs must also take care of the ball better; their three turnovers resulted in 17 points for the Aggies.

6. Florida: After taking a 21-0 lead at Tennessee with backup quarterback Austin Appleby, the Gators went conservative on offense and got shredded on defense. Jim McElwain outcoached Butch Jones in the first half, but the tables were turned in the second as Florida looked very much like last season's lackluster offense in its 38-28 loss to the Vols.

7. Georgia: This was a disaster on every level. First-year coach Kirby Smart’s team had found ways to scratch out wins in each of the first three weeks, but Saturday’s visit to Ole Miss found the Bulldogs down big right out of the gate. They trailed 31-0 at halftime and by as much as 45-0 before finally answering late. Let’s be honest: The Bulldogs simply don’t look very good thus far.

8. Auburn: Let’s not count out Gus Malzahn just yet. Auburn won another thriller Saturday, knocking off LSU thanks to a reversal on the game’s final play, and now this team has some momentum heading into October. Plus, both losses (Clemson and Texas A&M) don’t look so bad right now.

9. LSU: Les Miles was in trouble last year after he lost three games. How do you think he’s feeling this year at 2-2 after the first month? LSU struggled again Saturday, and the heartbreaking loss to Auburn might be the final nail in the coffin for the "Mad Hatter."

10. Missouri: Barry Odom’s club has destroyed its opposition from outside the Power 5 -- including Delaware State in a 79-0 laugher on Saturday -- but lost to both teams it faced from Power 5 conferences. We’ll see more of what the Tigers are made of on Saturday, when they visit a reeling LSU team on the bayou. Mizzou is scoring at an impressive clip thus far. If they can continue that trend, they might pull the upset.

11. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs needed a second-half rally to beat UMass -- a 1-3 Group of 5 team that also hung tough with Florida a couple of weeks ago. Make of that what you will. But when the Bulldogs were in rough shape Saturday, they got big plays from Fred Ross and Jamoral Graham to build a big lead entering the fourth quarter. That accounts for something.

12. Kentucky: The Wildcats outlasted New Mexico State a week ago and held off South Carolina on Saturday. Surely it’s nice to be at .500 after a disastrous start to the season, but Mark Stoops’ team will have to pull several upsets just to reach bowl eligibility. We won’t rule it out, but that seems unlikely.

13. South Carolina: The Gamecocks struggled to move the ball (268 total yards) against a Kentucky defense that previously had struggled to stop anybody. That’s a bad sign with five ranked teams plus Missouri remaining on the schedule. South Carolina isn't a bowl contender at this point. They’ll be better eventually, but it won’t be this year.

14. Vanderbilt: The Commodores lost to Western Kentucky in devastating fashion a year ago. They returned the favor Saturday, improving to .500 after a blowout loss at Georgia Tech a week earlier. This was an enormous relief after last week’s disappointment, but Vandy still needs to pull several upsets if it is to even threaten to become bowl eligible.