SEC Rankings Week 4: Giant showdown of the league’s last two unbeaten teams tops shortened schedule

SEC Power Rankings

Welcome to the strangest week in the SEC has seen in a long, long time. After a couple of huge upsets last week (read: Florida and LSU) and an offensive explosion that had scoreboards piling up points at a dizzying rate, everything was set up for another interesting Saturday that would be topped by the primetime matchup between No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia. But the postponement of two games — including LSU and Florida — shrunk the schedule before Alabama coach Nick Saban’s COVID-19 diagnosis knocked him out of his team’s showdown with Georgia. The Tide and Bulldogs will still play in a battle of the league’s last two unbeatens in Tuscaloosa, topping a list of some intriguing games on a five-game slate. Among them are the Kentucky-Tennessee contest to see if the Vols can bounce back from a beatdown at Georgia and the Texas A&M-Mississippi State game, in which the teams appear to be going in opposite directions following A&M’s upset of then-No. 4 Florida and State’s error-filled 24-2 loss at Kentucky.

Sheldon Mickles

1. ALABAMA

RECORD: 3-0

PRV. RANK: 1

THIS WEEK: vs. Georgia, 7 p.m. Saturday

TV: CBS

LINE: Alabama by 6

STORYLINE: Alabama was tested for more than three quarters in last week’s eventual win at Ole Miss, which should serve the Crimson Tide well as they try to stay near the top of the polls. The competition ratchets up, however, against a Georgia defense that ranks second in the FBS in fewest yards allowed (236.7 ypg).

2. GEORGIA

RECORD: 3-0

PRV. RANK: 3

THIS WEEK: at Alabama, 7 p.m. Saturday

TV: CBS

LINE: Alabama by 6

STORYLINE: After a slow start last week. Georgia asserted itself against a Tennessee team that was trying to make a national statement. The Bulldogs won going away, thanks to an offense that is starting to get its act together under former walk-on quarterback Stetson Bennett and a stifling defense.

3. TEXAS A&M

RECORD: 2-1

PRV. RANK: 8

THIS WEEK: at Mississippi State, 3 p.m. Saturday

TV: ESPN

LINE: Texas A&M by 6½

STORYLINE: You have to wonder which Texas A&M team will show up Saturday, the one that barely got past a bad Vanderbilt outfit that has lost back-to-back games by a combined score of 82-14, or the Aggies who, one week after getting crushed by Alabama, hung around and found a way to shock Florida last week.

4. FLORIDA

RECORD: 2-1

PRV. RANK: 2

THIS WEEK: vs. LSU, ppd.

TV: NA

LINE: NA

STORYLINE: It’s been a real rough week for Florida with the setback to Texas A&M still fresh in their minds when the work week started. Then, when they didn’t think it could any get worse, a COVID-19 outbreak affected 21 players and two assistant coaches that forced the postponement of the game with LSU.

5. AUBURN

RECORD: 2-1

PRV. RANK: 6

THIS WEEK: at South Carolina, 11 a.m. Saturday

TV: ESPN

LINE: Auburn by 3

STORYLINE: Auburn hasn’t really wowed anyone in the first three weeks of the season. The Tigers had to scratch to top Kentucky in its opener, were throttled by three touchdowns against Georgia and would have lost to Arkansas if not for a controversial call. Getting on track now is a must for Gus Malzahn’s team.

6. TENNESSEE

RECORD: 2-1

PRV. RANK: 4

THIS WEEK: vs. Kentucky, 11 a.m. Saturday

TV: ESPN

LINE: Tennessee by 6

STORYLINE: After finishing the 2019 season strong, Tennessee garnered a lot of attention. But the Vols, who were hammered in the second half of last week’s big game at Georgia, showed they haven’t arrived yet. They could easily be 1-2 after hanging on to beat South Carolina by four in the opener.

7. LSU

RECORD: 1-2

PRV. RANK: 5

THIS WEEK: at Florida, ppd.

TV: NA

LINE: NA

STORYLINE: After preparing for three days for an opponent, you never want to have a game postponed — especially when the scheduled foe is affected by a COVID outbreak. Still, LSU should benefit from the game being pushed back to December — when Myles Brennan and others have recovered from injury.

8. KENTUCKY

RECORD: 1-2

PRV. RANK: 11

THIS WEEK: at Tennessee, 11 a.m. Saturday

TV: SEC Network

LINE: Tennessee by 6

STORYLINE: After starting 0-2, Kentucky has a chance to get back to .500 if it can handle Tennessee in Rocky Top. A stout defensive effort in last Saturday’s 24-2 victory over Mississippi State was big and another victory over No. 18 Tennessee would be a big boost going into a huge game with Georgia next week in Lexington.

9. OLE MISS

RECORD: 1-2

PRV. RANK: 9

THIS WEEK: at Arkansas, 2:30 p.m. Saturday

TV: SEC Network

LINE: Ole Miss by 2½

STORYLINE: While Lane Kiffin had an aggressive plan going into last week’s meeting with No. 2 Alabama, Ole Miss just didn’t have the horses in the end. The Rebels have a chance to even their record this week, however, with the nation’s second-ranked offense that also is No. 1 in passing efficiency.

10. SOUTH CAROLINA

RECORD: 1-2

PRV. RANK: 12

THIS WEEK: vs. Auburn, 11 a.m. Saturday

TV: ESPN

LINE: Auburn by 3

STORYLINE: South Carolina is another one of those teams that is still trying to find its way in this anything-but-normal season. The Gamecocks took Tennessee to the limit on the road in its opener, then lost to Florida before crushing hapless Vanderbilt last week. A win in this spot would be huge for Carolina.

11. MISSOURI

RECORD: 1-2

PRV. RANK: 13

THIS WEEK: vs. Vanderbilt, ppd.

TV: NA

LINE: NA

STORYLINE: After falling to Alabama and Tennessee, Missouri had an unscheduled home game against LSU. That three-game gantlet was broken up when Mizzou’s offense found the cracks in the LSU defense, but a shot at winning two in a row went by the wayside when the Vandy game was postponed.

12. ARKANSAS

RECORD: 1-2

PRV. RANK: 10

THIS WEEK: vs. Ole Miss, 2:30 p.m. Saturday

TV: SEC Network

LINE: 

LINE: Ole Miss by 2½

STORYLINE: For a program that had lost 20 SEC games in a row, Arkansas has made a lot of noise the past two weeks. First, it took care of Mississippi State and last week had a controversial call go the other way that could have resulted in a win at Auburn. Suddenly, a win over Ole Miss isn’t that implausible.

13. MISSISSIPPI STATE

RECORD: 1-2

PRV. RANK: 7

THIS WEEK: vs. Texas A&M, 3 p.m. Saturday

TV: ESPN

LINE: Texas A&M by 6½

STORYLINE: The demise of MSU’s Air Raid Offense offense is mind-boggling when you consider the Bulldogs hung 44 points on LSU in Tiger Stadium, but has scored just 16 points since in falling to Arkansas and Kentucky. How could things have turned so sour, so fast? And it may not get better this week.

14. VANDERBILT

RECORD: 0-3

PRV. RANK: 14

THIS WEEK: at Missouri, ppd.

TV: NA

LINE: NA

STORYLINE: Like LSU, Vanderbilt needs a little break — just not because of a COVID outbreak. The Commodores have lost their last two games by an identical 41-7 score to LSU and South Carolina — both coming in Nashville. That doesn’t bode well for Derek Mason, whose team has an open date next week.


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