It might not have been a particularly competitive week of football in the SEC, but that also means that there weren't any real upsets to disturb the rankings of conference teams. One cataclysmic loss that knocked a team from the rankings, sure, but not an unforeseen loss to really shake things up. The same could not be said about other conferences -- particularly the Big 12 -- and that helped the SEC in general and the SEC West in particular to regain some of the momentum it seemed to have lost last week.
|Mississippi State (43)
|Mississippi State (36)
|Florida State (14)
|Florida State (22)
|Ole Miss (3)
|Ole Miss (4)
It's a clean victory this week for Mississippi State in the coaches poll, which gives the Bulldogs another 10 first-place votes to put Florida State even further in Mississippi State's rear-view mirror. Ole Miss actually loses a first-place vote, though it's impossible to tell whether it went to Mississippi State or the Seminoles. There will probably be some complaining from Tallahassee about the lost first-place votes, but the controversial nature of the call at the end of the game (which I think was correct) and the continuing narrow fashion of FSU's victories are probably hurting them some.
Mississippi State actually loses three first-place votes in the AP poll, with those votes apparently going to Florida State, but they still have enough of a lead to avoid it doing any real damage.
Former No. 4 Baylor and previously No. 5 Notre Dame are excised from the Top 5 after the former's loss to West Virginia and the latter's loss to FSU, though the Bears fall farther than the Irish (as you would expect). That allows Alabama to charge back into the Top 5 following its win over Texas A&M -- moving up two spots in each survey -- and Auburn to win a one-spot bye-week bump into the AP Top 5. The coaches poll goes with Michigan State instead. That means that the SEC West has either all but one of of the Top 5 spots or 60 percent of them, and neither number is bad. Auburn clocks in at No. 6 among the coaches after advancing two places.
Georgia moves up to No. 9 in both polls, though that appears to have as much to do with Baylor falling out of the Top 10 as with the Dawgs' impressive victory over Arkansas. That puts a grand total of five SEC teams in the Top 10, which as you might guess leads the nation. The only other ranked team is LSU, which checks in at No. 23 or 24, depending on the poll, after Texas A&M exits the rankings. That means its all a wash in terms of the number of conference teams in the polls -- it's still a half-dozen.
The Pac-12 is also starting to lose teams, with Stanford dropping out of both polls. That's knocks the other contender for best conference in the country down to five in the coaches poll; the Pac-12 stays at six among the sportswriters, who put UCLA back into the mix because they are apparently in denial about the Bruins having an advanced case of Jim Mora Syndrome. Fans of the Atlanta Falcons know that teams with JMS often appear to be recovering before crashing back to earth.
In any case, some of this is to be expected: We always knew that as the SEC and the Pac-12 started to play each other, they couldn't possibly sustain the number of ranked teams they had. The failures of teams like Texas A&M have perhaps been more spectacular than anticipated, but it was nonetheless inevitable.
Five Big 12 teams are now in the polls after West Virginia's upset win against Baylor. TCU moves up two spots in each poll and Kansas State advances three places after wizarding its way to victory against Oklahoma, which falls six places in the AP survey and seven places among the coaches -- which is still not as bad as the Bears, who fall eight and nine places, respectively. Oklahoma State goes from the Top 15 to unranked after getting thrashed by the Horned Frogs.
In another interesting development, Marshall gets a bit closer to East Carolina this week; ECU's lead is down to five spots in both polls after being seven or eight last week. Remember: The highest-ranked team in the Group of 5, as decided by the selection committee, will go to one of the "access" bowls. As long as there's some distance between ECU and Marshall, it's probably a safe bet that the selection committee views things the same way, but if it gets any closer, the Pirates might have cause to be nervous.