Snark and then rationale, because we're getting to the point of the season where rationale has to be explained.
1. Mississippi State
Defense wins championships, but Dak Prescott is a pretty good Plan B.
Ellis Johnson still has those games where he looks completely flustered by a play-caller who sticks with what works over and over again? Good to know.
3. Ole Miss
Yes, the thing with LSU and upsets works both ways.
The best wide receiver in the country plays for Nick Saban, and it's not even close.
It's over -- and been over, in fact. No one is catching them in the SEC East. (Note: This is not an attempted jinx; it's a statement of fact.)
Watch Les Miles turn around and win a national title with two losses and less than 2,500 yards passing.
7. Texas A&M
There's probably no good way to recover from a 59-0 shellacking, but a bye week and then a game against a Louisiana-Monroe team that's .500 in the Sun Belt is probably about as not-bad as it can be.
I'm pretty sure the Wildcats are going to a bowl at this point. Of course, I thought that about Tennessee, and they promptly went and lost to Florida at home.
9. South Carolina
You know, Steve, the games against teams other than Georgia and Auburn also count.
A solid win against UAB, and maybe you can ride that momentum to an SEC win in the next game ... at Mississippi State. Okay, so there's always next year.
We're glad that you're all on board with the "ESS EEE SEE" thing, but trying to make Vanderbilt look good really isn't necessary.
If Georgia knew what was best for it, it would throw this game and hope that allows Will Muschamp to lock up a contract extension.
Nothing between 7-5 and 4-8 would surprise me with this team. Who knows which South Carolina shows up this weekend, then the games against Kentucky and Missouri are in Knoxville, and even Tennessee can't lose on the road to Vanderbilt.
You've got to think they would prefer the quick, merciful approach that Ole Miss and Georgia took -- but they keep getting the yanking-the-ball-away-from-Charlie-Brown treatment against SEC teams. Next conference game: Florida, so yeah, same thing.
- Ole Miss / Alabama. Here's the thing that stops me from putting Ole Miss ahead of Alabama (for now): The two played a game and one of them clearly won, and arguably could have won by more than it did. The Rebels beat both of the teams that the Tide beat over the last two weeks, so unless you want to start really splitting hairs on the MOV (Ole Miss' was higher against Tennessee and Alabama's was much higher against Texas A&M), I not sure how much we can take away from those Alabama victories. Ole Miss' only loss at this point was on the road by three points to a team that Alabama hasn't played, while Alabama's loss is to Ole Miss. If the Tide can beat LSU in a couple of weeks or Ole Miss loses badly to Auburn this weekend, then I'll take a long look at moving Alabama ahead of the Rebels. But not yet.
Auburn, on the other hand, did beat LSU and beat them handily. Basically, the one-loss portion of the ballot is a mess right now, but I'm not too worried about Auburn vis a vis Ole Miss one way or the other, because we'll get all that cleared up on Saturday. I'm slightly more worried about Alabama vis a vis Auburn; I don't necessarily like moving Auburn past the Tide after the Tigers' defense looked underwhelming against South Carolina, but South Carolina is actually not a bad team on offense (the defense is another matter), and we'll have the head-to-heads against Ole Miss to compare after the weekend, so that should help clear this up as well.
- Yes, I kept Mississippi State at No. 1. It's pretty clear that Kentucky is a good-ish team this year (note the -ish), the blowout loss to LSU notwithstanding, and the Bulldogs were playing on the road as the top team in the nation for the first time in school history. That's a lot of caveats. As long as the Bulldogs keep winning, I'm not going to ding them much.
South Carolina at No. 9. The Gamecocks play up or down to whichever team they're playing on a given week. So I just kind of stick them somewhere every week. It's literally impossible to keep them below every team they lost to and ahead of every team they beat at this point.
Missouri struggled at home against Vanderbilt. If you want to know why I dropped them three spots this week, read that sentence again.