The Tiers and Rankings of SEC Teams after Week One
Alright fellow Volunteers, here is how I see things as of now.
This article was originally published in blog:
The Tiers and Rankings of SEC Teams after Week One
Based on the limited information of one week of college football, the perception of teams of the SEC fall into three tiers:
The gentry class teams include the perennially powdered Alabama and LSU, scandalously underachieving Georgia, and defending conference champion Auburn. Note that since there are three of these teams in the West, at least one of them is going to lose some luster by the end of the season. But remember, the West's upper crust may tear each other down but they'll still have money and you'll still be Appalachian.
Transitioning into this tier are debutantes Texas A&M and Mississippi State. We'll see if they are accepted into high society or get cast back down with the merchants and tradesmen as the season goes on.
The Professionals, Artisans, and Tradesmen
The second tier are the teams in the professional class. These teams' fortunes are decided on a razor's edge every week. The difference between each of them in talent on the field is not great, yet when the dust settles at the end of the season the perception of each team will be vastly different. South Carolina, Missouri, and Ole Miss make up the most promising members of this middle class. Florida and Tennessee are also in this group, but both could use a bath and a new suit.
The Plain Folk
The bottom tier are the "plain folk." These teams try to scratch out a living scheduling soft OOC schedules in a vain attempt to hide their SEC poverty.
Kentucky has been living in the hollers for the last few years, living off of nuts, roots, and whatever critter they can trap. Their recent meal of skyhawk may have to sustain them for some time.
Arkansas was jilted and left destitute some years ago, and is still picking up the pieces, taking whatever it can get.
Vanderbilt woke up on Lafayette Street outside the rescue mission with a huge headache and covered in vomit. Vandy still doesn't know what the hell happened, and only has fuzzy memories of how it went from bowl games and drinking beer from glasses to paying their last dollar to get sodomized by a burly spectacled man named "Cherry" from Philadelphia. It may be less painful if Vandy never clearly recalls those recent times of relative success and joy, because they are probably not coming back any time soon.
With that being said, here is how I would rank the teams, based on expectations and one week of work, as well as my own personal opinion of how they compare to their peers.
1. Georgia- Unexpectedly great defense was on display, unlocking and then smashing Clemson's allegedly formidable offense. The running game looked like a highway running through Clemson's defense. UGA has an unbelievable collection of running backs, and an offensive line that makes them almost redundant. They made a team that is supposed to contend with Florida State for the ACC look like a lower tier Big East school.
2. Alabama- Still looks like a Saban team, but some cracks and questions are there. one has to assume they'll improve as the season goes on though. They also beat a high quality opponent in WVU, who will probably win the Big East.
3. TAMU- The offense appeared unstoppable, and the defense was faster and more consistent. They went on the road as clear underdogs and all but destroyed the Gamecocks' hopes for the season in the first week. They will be stronger contenders for the West this year than they were the last.
4. Auburn- With Marshall in, they look to be right where they left off in my opinion, soundly beating an improved Arkansas team. That being said, were they not the defending champions I would have them ranked one spot lower. Something is different. They lack some of the sparkle of last year. Maybe I am wrong, but I expect the better teams in their division to have come up with some fresh schemes to contain that explosive offense.
5. Mississippi State- Don't sleep on them. They looked good in all phases. They are a legitimate challenger for the conference. Believe it. They are the nouveau riche.
6. LSU- Not as dominant as one might be used to, but still fast and lucky as sasquatch shite. If the LSU from the last 22 minutes of their game against Wisconsin plays the rest of the season, they are as much of a contender in the West as anybody. But somehow I doubt the first 38 minutes of the game were an aberration any more than the end of the game was. This will be a streaky squad that will need those lucky bounces and spurts to compensate for the malaise that seems to go hand in hand with the fortunate nature of Les Miles teams.
7. Ole Miss- They appeared formidable in taking down a Boise State team that will likely win its conference. That being said, Wallace still is not the caliber of player those rebellious grovers/black bears/fightin' seersuckers think he is. Ole Miss is solid, but has a ceiling. That ceiling is opponents that play great defense.
8. Scar- South Carolina will be known as "scar" until the wounds inflicted Thursday show signs of having healed. What a whuppin'. Still, things are usually not as good or as bad as they seem. And Spurrier has resurrected many teams in his years coaching in the SEC. So much went wrong, something is bound to improve. I won't lie though, if I only went off of the games played in Week One, Scar would be two spots further down the list.
9. Tennessee- Despite the gambling lines, one got the impression that Tennessee was not supposed to beat Utah State. But they rolled them. Worley looked serviceable and the defense looked savvy. But this team represents the opposite side of the coin for "things are usually not as good or as bad as they seem." The truth is we won't really know where Tennessee's rebuilding is at until the Oklahoma and Georgia games. But so far, so good. A bowl game seems obtainable, and there is a possibility that the rest of the division outside of Georgia falls into place for the Vols.
10. Missouri- Last year was lightning in a bottle. And this is this year. The Tigers seemed unable to pull away from the South Dakota State Jack Rabbits until well into the third quarter. Even then, so many of the plays that were the difference in the game were ones of obvious talent mismatches that just isn't going to be there against SEC opponents. If it wasn't for their favorable schedule, I don't think they'd even be a bowl team. As it is, they have 4 OOC wins built in on top of getting Arkansas as one of their West opponents. Seven automatic wins will make their final record look good, but they are really just another SEC East paper tiger.
11. Arkansas- Yes, they lost. But they gave the defending conference champions a game for 3 quarters, and did not have the same listless look in their eyes that they did the last couple of years. They are improving, and being the bottom team in the West is still better than being anywhere near the bottom in the East.
12. Kentucky- The Wildcats look much improved from last year on both sides of the ball. While they don't have the horses to really threaten anyone in the top half of the conference, they look capable of collecting one or two conference scalps this year as the Blue Stoops continues to improve the roster.
13. Vandy- They looked completely incapable of scoring offensively against Temple. While Temple doesn't suck in the context of all BCS teams, they're likely worse than any SEC team (other than Vandy) this year. The decision to play QB roulette when Robinette was 4-6 passing and Vandy was still in the game may be the most moronic personnel move we see for awhile. But hey, it is just Vandy so who cares? That's a rhetorical question.
*Florida is not included since they were too afraid of the lightning and Vandals to take the field. Honestly, they are hard to place without having seen them play anyone at all. Somewhere between Ole Miss and Missouri.