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SEC Football Power Poll: Week 11

1. LSU (9-0, 6-0 SEC, 1st last week): This is the best college football team in the country, bar none. And this LSU team may be better than the 2003 and 2007 teams that went on to win BCS National Championships. In a season where sophomore sensation Tyrann Mathieu has been the star on defense, sophomore safety Eric Reid stole the show Saturday when he took a 50/50 ball away from Alabama tight end Michael Williams at the Tigers’ one-yard line. Senior quarterback Jarrett Lee struggled and threw two interceptions, and it will be interesting to see what his role will be the rest of the season. No. 7 Arkansas looms at the end of the season for LSU.
This week: Western Kentucky (5-4), 6 p.m., ESPNU
2. Alabama (8-1, 5-1 SEC, 2nd last week): If LSU is the best college football team in the country (and it is), Alabama is arguably the second best team, or at least in the conversation with Oklahoma State and Stanford. Saturday’s game was not lost on sophomore kicker Cade Foster’s four missed field goals, including a 52-yard attempt in overtime, but when LSU safety Eric Reid wrestled a ball from junior tight end Michael Williams and when junior wide receiver Marquis Maze missed a 73-yard line drive punt that flipped field position in favor of the Tigers. Expect a hangover from Saturday’s dramatic game when the Crimson Tide roll into Starkville this weekend.
This week: at Mississippi State (5-4, 1-4 SEC), 6:45 p.m., ESPN
3. Arkansas (8-1, 4-1 SEC, 3rd last week): In Saturday’s other battle of top-10 teams, the Razorbacks pulled away late for a 44-28 win over South Carolina, keeping their hopes for a return to the Sugar Bowl alive. Junior quarterback Tyler Wilson led the offense and completed 20 of 37 passes for 299 yards with two touchdowns, both to senior wide receiver Jarius Wright. The much-maligned Arkansas defense played lights out, holding South Carolina to just 207 yards of total offense and forcing four turnovers. A sack and fumble late in the fourth quarter led to another Razorback touchdown that put the game out of reach.
This week: Tennessee (4-5, 0-5 SEC), 5 p.m., ESPN2
4. Georgia (7-2, 5-1 SEC, 4th last week): The Bulldogs not only routed New Mexico State 63-16 Saturday, but with South Carolina’s loss at Arkansas, Georgia controls its own destiny in the SEC Eastern Division with home conference games against Auburn and Kentucky left on the schedule. Even without suspended freshman Isaiah Crowell, two different players threw for touchdowns, three different players ran for touchdowns and six different players caught touchdown passes, as the Bulldogs outgained the Aggies 627-402. The second quarter proved decisive with 42 points in the frame. This Saturday is Georgia’s biggest test to wrap up the East.
This week: Auburn (6-3, 4-2 SEC), 2:30 p.m., CBS
5. South Carolina (7-2, 5-2 SEC, 5th last week): The Gamecocks failed their first true test since a 16-13 home loss to Auburn, falling 44-28 at Arkansas Saturday. In the absence of Lattimore, South Carolina managed only 79 yards on the ground while sophomore quarterback Connor Shaw threw for just 128 yards with an interception and five sacks. On the last sack, Shaw was knocked out and fumbled the ball, which led to the Razorbacks’ last score of the game. His status remains uncertain. South Carolina must hope Georgia slips against Auburn or Kentucky while avoiding Florida’s upset bid this Saturday.
This week: Florida (5-4, 3-4 SEC), 11:00 a.m., CBS
6. Auburn (6-3, 4-2 SEC, 6th last week): Coming off their bye week, the Tigers have their first of two opportunities to play spoiler for their main rivals: Georgia and Alabama. Last time out, Auburn dominated the second half and sophomore quarterback Clint Moseley threw his first four career touchdown passes in a 41-23 win over Ole Miss. Auburn is bowl-eligible with that win over the Rebels and looks to position itself for a better bowl game and momentum going into next season. With head coaching jobs, including at Ole Miss, popping up across the country, it will be interesting to see what happens with offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.
This week: at Georgia (7-2, 5-1 SEC), 2:30 p.m., CBS
7. Florida (5-4, 3-4 SEC, 7th last week): The Gators survived and held on for a hard-fought 26-21 win over Vanderbilt in the Swamp Saturday. It snapped a four-game losing streak for Florida and also their winning streak over Vanderbilt to 21 games. Senior quarterback John Brantley continues to battle injuries, leaving the game late in the fourth quarter, but completed 16 of 24 passes for 173 yards. He is expected to return and start this Saturday at South Carolina. Senior running back led the way on the ground with 158 yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns. The Gamecocks present a prime opportunity for head coach Will Muschamp to get his first signature win with the Gators.
This week: at South Carolina (7-2, 5-2 SEC), 11:00 a.m., CBS
8. Vanderbilt (4-5, 1-5 SEC, 8th last week): The margin of error is so small in the SEC and for the second straight week the Commodores found themselves on the wrong side of it, coming up short 26-21 at Florida Saturday. Vanderbilt can point to penalties (12 for 106 yards), including two that kept a drive alive that led to Jeff Demps’ 52-yard touchdown run to put Florida up 26-14. Junior quarterback Jordan Rodgers shined on offense, completing 19 of 28 passes for 297 yards with two touchdowns, but the running game managed only 80 yards on the ground and the opportunistic defense didn’t force any turnovers. A bowl game remains a realistic possibility with Kentucky, Tennessee and Wake Forest to finish out the season.
This week: Kentucky (4-5, 1-4 SEC), 11:21 a.m., SEC Network
9. Mississippi State (5-4, 1-4 SEC, 9th last week): It wasn’t impressive in the stat sheet, where the Bulldogs gave up 21 first downs and 454 yards of total offense, but it didn’t matter on the scoreboard, where Mississippi State blew out Tennessee-Martin 55-17 Saturday. Senior running back Vick Ballard got back on track with 102 yards on just 11 carries while both sophomore Tyler Russell (9-of-18, 183 yards, TD) and senior Chris Relf (5-of-6, 61 yards, 2 TD) had success at quarterback. The Bulldogs seek that elusive SEC West win over a team not named Ole Miss the next two weeks against Alabama and Arkansas, before likely playing for a bowl game against the Rebels in the season finale.
This week: Alabama (8-1, 5-1 SEC), 6:45 p.m. ESPN
10. Kentucky (4-5, 1-4 SEC, 12th last week): In his career start, freshman quarterback Maxwell Smith bombed away for 283 yards and two touchdowns on 19-of-36 passing, as the Wildcats scored 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to win 30-13 over Ole Miss. It was a balanced attack for Kentucky as junior running back CoShik Williams topped the century mark with 111 yards on 25 carries. Head coach Joker Phillips earned himself some job security while the Wildcats’ bowl chances hinge this week at Vanderbilt and the season finale against Tennessee, a team they have lost to 26 straight times.
This week: at Vanderbilt (4-5, 1-5 SEC), 11:21 a.m., SEC Network
11. Tennessee (4-5, 0-5 SEC, 10th last week): You really don’t know how good this young team is, having gone through a gauntlet of four of the conference’s best five teams before bouncing back with a 24-0 win over Middle Tennessee State Saturday. Unfortunately for the Volunteers, that fifth team (Arkansas) is on the schedule this week, so they will likely have to sweep two of their main rivals — Vanderbilt and Kentucky — to go bowling this season. In his second career start, freshman quarterback Justin Worley completed 23 of 32 passes for 291 yards with a touchdown while senior running back Tauren Poole ran for two more touchdowns.
This week: at Arkansas (8-1, 4-1 SEC), 5 p.m., ESPN2
12. Ole Miss (2-7, 0-6 SEC, 11th last week): What’s there left to say? The Rebels collapsed in the fourth quarter on the road at Kentucky as the Wildcats won 30-13. With the loss, the program’s longest SEC losing streak now stands at 12 games, with LSU and Mississippi State to finish out the SEC slate. It will be interesting to see how this team, now underdogs to Louisiana Tech, responds this week and the rest of the season. With the Houston Nutt era drawing to a close at end of the season, the football on the field will take a backseat to the athletics director and coach search.
This week: Louisiana Tech (5-4), 6:30 p.m., CSS