By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Post-Week 2 SEC Power Rankings
Check out all of our college football rankings.
1. Alabama (2-0) – Although LSU has one of the best wins through the first two weeks of the season, the Crimson Tide remain Athlon’s No. 1 team in the SEC. Alabama improved to 2-0 on Saturday, defeating Penn State 27-11 in Happy Valley. The Crimson Tide has not settled on a quarterback yet, but it appears AJ McCarron has surpassed Phillip Sims in the pecking order. Alabama’s defense is one of the best in college football and opponents are averaging only 170.5 yards per game so far. The Crimson Tide take on North Texas this Saturday, before hosting Arkansas in a key SEC West showdown in Week 4.
2. LSU (2-0) – After beating Oregon in Week 1, LSU had a breather in Week 2 against Northwestern State. The Tigers easily moved to 2-0, posting a 49-3 win over the Demons. LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee left Saturday’s game due to an injury, but is expected to play against Mississippi State on Thursday night. The Tigers have dominated the Bulldogs in recent seasons, but the last matchup in Starkville was decided by only four points.
3. Arkansas (2-0) – Thanks to matchups against Missouri State and New Mexico, Razorbacks haven’t been tested so far. However, Arkansas has looked good through two weeks, allowing only 10 points and ranking No. 8 nationally in total and scoring offense. Quarterback Tyler Wilson missed time against New Mexico, but is not expected to sit out Saturday’s game against Troy. The Trojans have been a pesky opponent against BCS conference teams in the past, so this could be Arkansas’ toughest game through the first three weeks.
4. South Carolina (2-0) – Through two weeks of the season, the Gamecocks look like the class of the SEC East. South Carolina was outgained in Saturday’s win over Georgia, but found a way to win, largely due in part to defensive lineman Melvin Ingram’s two touchdowns. Running back Marcus Lattimore showed why he is one of the best in college football, rushing for 174 yards and one score. Quarterback Stephen Garcia did not have a great game against the Bulldogs, which remains South Carolina’s biggest concern going forward.
5. Florida (2-0) – The Gators have been quiet through the first two weeks, easily handling FAU and UAB. Will Muschamp’s team will get a stiff test on Saturday against Tennessee and an improving offense, led by sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray. Florida quarterback John Brantley has been solid through two weeks, but Week 3 will be a step up in competition for the offense. Chris Rainey has also emerged as the team’s go-to back, rushing for 198 yards and two scores through two games. Although the early returns have favored South Carolina in the SEC East race, the Gators are a team to watch.
6. Auburn (2-0) – Another week, another close call for Auburn. The Tigers needed a goal-line stand to hold off Mississippi State for the win, which moved Auburn’s winning streak to 17 in a row. New quarterback Barrett Trotter has been solid so far, throwing for 407 yards and five touchdowns through two starts. However, the Tigers have been steamrolled against the run, allowing 280 yards per game to opponents. If Auburn can get by Clemson this week, they should move to 4-0 with FAU ahead in Week 4.
7. Mississippi State (1-1) – The Bulldogs narrowly missed out on a key SEC West road win over Auburn in Week 2. Quarterback Chris Relf was stopped on the goal-line to preserve the victory for the Tigers. The Bulldogs won’t get a break in the schedule this week, as they host LSU on Thursday night. Mississippi State has not beat the Tigers since 1999.
8. Georgia (0-2) – Yes, the Bulldogs are 0-2 and a case could be made for Tennessee to be ranked ahead, but let’s give some credit to Georgia’s schedule. The Bulldogs had one of the most difficult two-game stretches to open the season in college football and an argument could be made they outplayed South Carolina. With Mark Richt on the hot seat, every game on the schedule the rest of the way is a must-win situation.
9. Tennessee (2-0) – Quarterback Tyler Bray has picked up where he left off last year, throwing seven touchdowns and 698 yards in his first two starts this season. However, it’s time for a step up in competition. The Volunteers travel to Gainesville to take on Florida, currently ranked No. 1 in the nation in scoring defense. The Gators haven’t played top competition either, but this defense was expected to be one of the top defenses in the SEC this year. If Tennessee can score its first win in Gainesville since 2003, the Volunteers will make a jump in the SEC power rankings.
10. Kentucky (2-0) – The Wildcats are 2-0, but there are a lot of unhappy folks in Lexington this week. Kentucky once again struggled to beat a non-conference opponent on Saturday (Central Michigan) and failed to find a passing attack. Quarterback Morgan Newton is only 16 of 36 through two contests, but also needs more help from his receivers. One positive for the offense was the play of freshman running back Josh Clemons, who rushed for 126 yards and a score in Saturday’s win over the Chippewas. The Wildcats host in-state rival Louisville this Saturday.
11. Ole Miss (1-1) – As expected, the Rebels handled Southern Illinois to earn their first win of 2011. Zack Stoudt made his first start at quarterback for Ole Miss, completing 11 of 18 passes for 118 yards and one score. Jeff Scott filled in admirably for Brandon Bolden at running back, gaining 118 yards and three scores. With few guaranteed wins remaining on the schedule, the trip to Vanderbilt on Saturday will be important for getting bowl eligible.
12. Vanderbilt (2-0) –Saturday’s win over Connecticut was another step forward for first-year coach James Franklin. The Commodores continue to struggle on offense, but got a few key plays from the defense to score a 24-21 win over the Huskies. Now, it’s on to the SEC play. With a win over Ole Miss on Saturday, Vanderbilt would escape the bottom of the power rankings.