By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Post-Week 3 SEC Power Rankings
Check out all of our college football rankings.
1. Alabama (3-0) – The Crimson Tide continue to reside atop the SEC power rankings. LSU has the best win among teams in the SEC (Oregon), but Athlon is projecting Alabama to play for the national championship. The Crimson Tide open SEC play with Arkansas this week, followed by a trip to Gainesville on Oct. 1.
2. LSU (3-0) – The Tigers aren’t the flashiest team, but just find ways to win games. Thursday night’s victory over Mississippi State was another example of that. The LSU defense kept the Bulldogs’ rushing attack in check, while the offense made timely plays through the air. The Tigers have another tough road trip ahead this week, traveling to Morgantown to take on undefeated and Big East favorite West Virginia.
3. Arkansas (3-0) – After three non-conference matchups, it’s time to see just how Arkansas stacks up in the SEC race. The Razorbacks' defense struggled with Troy on Saturday, which has to be a concern with Alabama running back Trent Richardson up next. If Arkansas wants to be a factor in the SEC West race, winning in Tuscaloosa is a must.
4. Florida (3-0) – Through three weeks, the Gators have looked like the most impressive team in the SEC East. Quarterback John Brantley isn’t posting big numbers, but turned in an efficient and effective performance against Tennessee. Running back Chris Rainey has been one of the SEC’s best players through three weeks, posting 520 total yards and four touchdowns on offense. The Gators face Kentucky on the road this Saturday, before a key two-game stretch against Alabama and LSU.
5. South Carolina (3-0) – Navy gave South Carolina all it could handle, but sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore proved to be too much to handle for the Midshipmen defense. Two concerns for the Gamecocks that continue to show up – pass defense and quarterback play. There’s a lot of time to sort out those issues, but South Carolina can’t afford to give Vanderbilt any help this Saturday.
6. Auburn (2-1) – All good things eventually come to an end. The Tigers 17-game winning streak was snapped in Saturday’s loss to Clemson. Auburn dodged a bullet with comebacks in the first two games of the year, but wasn’t able to rally in Week 3. The Tigers should get back on the winning side with a victory over FAU this week, but upcoming SEC games against South Carolina, Arkansas, Florida and LSU will be difficult.
7. Mississippi State (1-2) – The Bulldogs had a chance to score a marquee win for coach Dan Mullen on Thursday night, but fell just short, losing 19-6 to LSU. The Mississippi State offense never got on track, with quarterback Chris Relf only throwing for 96 yards and running back Vick Ballard held to 38 yards and no touchdowns. Look for Mississippi State to get back in the win column against Louisiana Tech this Saturday.
8. Georgia (1-2) – With all of the turmoil surrounding Mark Richt, Saturday’s win over Coastal Carolina provided some much-needed relief for the Bulldogs. The two-game stretch of Boise State and South Carolina was one of the most difficult starts for any team in college football, but despite the 0-2 start, Georgia could still win the SEC East. The Bulldogs should get their first conference win of the year against Ole Miss this Saturday.
9. Tennessee (2-1) – Saturday’s loss to Florida showed the Volunteers still have a lot of work to do to become a SEC East contender. Quarterback Tyler Bray tossed two picks, the rushing attack never got on track and the defense didn’t have an answer for Florida running back Chris Rainey. The Volunteers' offense suffered a huge blow in the loss, as receiver Justin Hunter suffered a torn ACL and is out for the year.
10. Vanderbilt (3-0) – Thanks to a 30-7 win over Ole Miss, the Commodores jump from No. 12 to No. 10 in this week’s power rankings. Could coach James Franklin reach a bowl in his first season in Nashville? With Army, Kentucky and Wake Forest remaining, it’s not out of the question.
11. Kentucky (2-1) – The Wildcats had a four-game winning streak to Louisville snapped on Saturday. Kentucky’s offense has struggled throughout 2011 and it finally caught up to the team against the Cardinals. The Wildcats have a tough three-game stretch upcoming, with Florida this Saturday, followed by road trips to LSU and South Carolina.
12. Ole Miss (1-2) – Losing to Vanderbilt isn’t bad, it’s just the manner in which it happened that is. The Rebels were dominated by the Commodores and a late touchdown was needed just to prevent a shutout. Coach Houston Nutt’s seat is beginning to get a little toasty, and one look at the schedule sees few guaranteed wins the rest of the way.