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By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Post-Week 10 SEC Power Rankings
Check out all of our college football rankings.
1. LSU (9-0) – Alabama owned our top spot in the SEC power rankings through the first nine weeks, but there’s a new No. 1. LSU defeated Alabama in a 9-6 defensive slugfest on Saturday night, improving to 9-0 and jumping into the driver’s seat for a spot in the national title. Although the Tigers struggled to get much going on offense, the defense held Alabama running back Trent Richardson in check and forced two timely turnovers. LSU steps out of conference for a matchup against Western Kentucky this Saturday.
2. Alabama (8-1) – For the first time this year, the Crimson Tide are no longer No. 1 in our power rankings. Alabama suffered a 9-6 loss to LSU on Saturday night, dropping it out of control for the SEC West title. Although the Crimson Tide suffered a setback in the national title race, they may get another shot at LSU if things break their way. Alabama needs a lot of help, starting with an Oregon win over Stanford this Saturday. With plenty to play for, expect an angry Crimson Tide squad on Saturday at Mississippi State.
3. Arkansas (8-1) – Most of the attention on Saturday night was focused on Tuscaloosa, but while that game was in progress, the Razorbacks scored a big win over South Carolina. Quarterback Tyler Wilson had a solid outing against the Gamecocks, throwing for 299 yards and two touchdowns. Arkansas has now won five games in a row and is still alive in the SEC West title race. The Razorbacks host Tennessee and Mississippi State on the next two Saturdays, before traveling to Baton Rouge for a matchup against LSU in the season finale.
4. Georgia (7-2) – If the Bulldogs can win their final two SEC games, you can bet coach Mark Richt will be sending a Christmas card to Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino. With the Razorbacks win over South Carolina, Georgia is now in control of the SEC East. The Bulldogs stepped out of conference for a 63-16 blowout victory over New Mexico State last Saturday, and return to SEC play with a date against Auburn this week. Georgia still has some work to do, but with Auburn and Kentucky both visiting Athens, the odds are in favor of the Bulldogs winning out.
5. South Carolina (7-2) – Without running back Marcus Lattimore, the Gamecocks knew they had an uphill battle to hold onto their lead in the SEC East. And the injuries finally caught up to South Carolina, as a 44-28 loss to Arkansas has knocked it out of the lead in the SEC East. The Gamecocks still have a chance to return to Atlanta, but need a loss by Georgia in one of its final two games – Auburn and Kentucky. South Carolina plays its final SEC game of 2011, hosting 5-5 Florida on Saturday.
6. Auburn (6-3) – The Tigers had a bye in Week 10 and return to action on Saturday at Georgia. The Tigers have struggled in the recent series against the Bulldogs, losing four out of the last five games. However, Auburn defeated Georgia 49-31 last season and will have a chance to play spoiler on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs need a win to hold onto their lead in the SEC East. Even though the Tigers aren’t as good as they were last season, Georgia will have its hands full in this rivalry matchup.
7. Florida (5-4) – The Gators got all they could handle from Vanderbilt, but eventually emerged with a 26-21 victory. Getting quarterback John Brantley back in the lineup from an ankle injury has made a difference, as Florida has scored 20 points in back-to-back games for the first time since September. The Gators still need one more win to get bowl eligible and play their final SEC game of 2011 at South Carolina this Saturday. If Florida can’t get past the Gamecocks, it should earn win No. 6 against Furman on Nov. 19.
8. Mississippi State (5-4) – The Bulldogs moved closer to bowl eligibility, thanks to a 55-17 blowout win over Tennessee-Martin last Saturday. Quarterback play has been an issue most of the year for Mississippi State, and quarterback Tyler Russell completed 9 of 18 passes for 183 yards and one touchdown, while Chris Relf threw for 61 yards and two scores. Coach Dan Mullen is expected to continue using the two-quarterback system the rest of the year. Mississippi State has a tough battle ahead, hosting Alabama in Starkville on Saturday.
9. Vanderbilt (4-5) – The Commodores suffered another close SEC loss on Saturday, losing 26-21 to Florida. Vanderbilt’s last three losses have all been by five points or less. Quarterback Jordan Rodgers has provided a spark, averaging 301.7 yards of total offense in his last three starts. First-year coach James Franklin has Vanderbilt on the door step of a bowl game, but it still needs two more victories. The Commodores should be able to get one of those needed wins, as they host Kentucky this Saturday.
10. Tennessee (4-5) – A 24-0 shutout over MTSU is just what the doctor ordered for the Volunteers. Tennessee does not have a win in SEC play, but the victory over the Blue Raiders snapped a four-game losing streak and moved it closer to bowl eligibility. Freshman quarterback Justin Worley was solid in his second start, throwing for 291 yards and one touchdown. However, the Volunteers continue to struggle to find a rushing attack. Tennessee travels to Arkansas on Saturday, before finishing out the regular season with Vanderbilt and Kentucky.
11. Kentucky (4-5) – It has been an up and down year for coach Joker Phillips, but the Wildcats appear to be building a little momentum. Freshman quarterback Maxwell Smith has jumpstarted the offense in the last two games, including 283 passing yards in the 30-13 win over Ole Miss last Saturday. The victory over the Rebels was Kentucky’s first SEC win of 2011. The Wildcats travel to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt this Saturday.
12. Ole Miss (2-7) – Rumors about Houston Nutt’s job security have been circulating for weeks and after the 30-13 loss to Kentucky, the Ole Miss administration finally had enough. Nutt will not return for the 2012 season and the search is on for a new head coach. The Rebels have been largely uncompetitive in SEC play this season, with their closest loss coming to Arkansas 29-24 on Oct. 22. Also, Ole Miss has not won a conference game since Oct. 2, 2010. It’s all about pride the next three weeks, as the Rebels have been eliminated from bowl contention.