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SEC Football Power Poll: Week 9

1. LSU (8-0, 5-0 SEC, 1st last week): Even without star sophomore cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and two other suspended players, LSU continues to march toward next week’s “Game of the Century” at Alabama with a 45-10 blowout of Auburn. Sophomore running back Michael Ford (82 yards) and freshman running back Kenny Hilliard (65 yards and two touchdowns) led the way on the ground, and senior quarterbacks Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson threw for a combined 219 yards and three touchdowns. The defense had six sacks and two turnovers, including senior cornerback Ron Brooks’ 28-yard interception return for a touchdown.

This week: Bye, Next week: at Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC), 7 p.m., CBS

2. Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC, 2nd last week): For the third straight week, the Crimson Tide overcame a lackluster first half with a dominant second-half performance as Alabama overwhelmed Tennessee 37-6 on Saturday. After going into halftime tied at 6-6, the Crimson Tide scored on their next five possessions. Coming off a career-high 183 yards and four touchdowns against Ole Miss, junior running back Trent Richardson could not make it seven straight 100-yard games, finishing with 77 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. Through the air, Sophomore quarterback AJ McCarron completed 17 of 26 passes for 284 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown pass.

This week: Bye, Next week: LSU (8-0, 5-0 SEC), 7 p.m., CBS

3. Arkansas (6-1, 2-1 SEC, 3rd last week): The Razorbacks got off to another slow start Saturday, falling behind Ole Miss 17-0 in the first half, but scored 29 unanswered points and held off a late fourth-quarter rally to win 29-24 in Oxford. At some point, perhaps this week at Vanderbilt, Arkansas will not have the luxury of coming back after a slow start. Junior quarterback Tyler Wilson was held in check for much of the game, completing just 13 of 28 passes for 232 yards and no touchdowns. Junior running back Dennis Johnson had a breakout game on the ground, going for 160 yards on 15 carries, including a 52-yard touchdown run.

This week: at Vanderbilt (4-3, 1-3 SEC), 11:21 a.m., SEC Network

4. Georgia (5-2, 4-1 SEC, 5th last week): Like last week, I think South Carolina has the better body of work for the season but I think Georgia will win the SEC Eastern Division. However, that prediction starts and ends with the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” this Saturday in Jacksonville against Florida. From there, it’s a home game with Auburn and a road trip to Kentucky while the Bulldogs need help in the way of a South Carolina loss to win the division. At Vanderbilt two weeks ago, sophomore quarterback Aaron Murray threw for a career-high 326 as Georgia held off a furious comeback in a 33-28 win.

This week vs. Florida (4-3, 2-3 SEC), 2:30 p.m., CBS

5. South Carolina (6-1, 4-1 SEC, 6th last week): The Gamecocks control their own destiny in the SEC Eastern Division race, but it starts a difficult three-game stretch to end conference play at Tennessee, followed by Arkansas on the road and then Florida at home. South Carolina will do so without star sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore, who is out for the season with a knee injury. At running back, the starter is now freshman Brandon Wilds with the possible return of junior Kenny Miles, who led the team in rushing two years ago. There is also more pressure than ever on sophomore quarterback Connor Shaw and junior wide receiver Alson Jeffery to make plays in the passing game and on the defense to carry the team the rest of the way.

This week: at Tennessee (3-4, 0-4 SEC), 6:15 p.m., ESPN2

6. Auburn (5-3, 3-2 SEC, 4th last week): It was ugly and it was bad for first-time starting quarterback Clint Moseley and Auburn in Death Valley Saturday, as LSU dominated 45-10, including a stretch of 38 unanswered points. Moseley completed 12 of 20 passes for 145 yards but was also sacked six times and threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. The running game also struggled, going for 87 yards on 34 carries. The defense could not stop LSU on the ground (174 yards and two touchdowns) or through the air (219 yards and three touchdowns). After Ole Miss, Auburn gets a bye week heading into a road game at rival Georgia.

This week: Ole Miss (2-5, 0-4 SEC), 6 p.m., ESPNU

7. Florida (4-3, 2-3 SEC, 7th last week): Two weeks ago, the Gators were in all sorts of disarray, particularly on special teams, in a 17-6 loss at Auburn. After a bye week, senior quarterback John Brantley and senior running back Jeff Demps are expected to return from injury. Florida still has an outside shot in the SEC Eastern Division because of remaining games with Georgia and South Carolina, but without a doubt they will have a say in who wins the division. The Gators have dominated the series with the Bulldogs, having won 18 of the last 21 games, and with Georgia alum Will Muschamp roaming the Florida sidelines, there’s even more at stake.

This week: vs. Georgia (5-2, 4-1 SEC), 2:30 p.m., CBS

8. Tennessee (3-4, 0-4 SEC, 8th last week): The Volunteers played Alabama even for a half before the Alabama Crimson Tide rolled to a 37-6 win, in which they dominated the second half. Tennessee converted two fourth downs to set up each of their first-half field goal drives. However, on a fourth-and-one play, senior quarterback Matt Simms was stopped short, and then Alabama scored on the next play to go up 20-6 and it was off to the races for the Crimson Tide. Senior running back Tauren Poole rushed for 67 yards on 19 carries, but the offense only gained 155 yards of total offense, while Alabama finished with 437.

This week: South Carolina (6-1, 4-1 SEC), 6:15 p.m., ESPN2

9. Vanderbilt (4-3, 1-3 SEC, 9th last week): Don’t look now, but the Commodores are above .500 and have a bowl game firmly in their sights after a 44-21 win over Army Saturday. In his first career start, junior quarterback Jordan Rodgers completed 10 of 27 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown. It was also Vanderbilt, and not Army, the nation’s leading rushing attack, that dominated on the ground. Junior Zac Stacy ran for a career-high 198 yards and three touchdowns, while Rodgers added 96 yards and a touchdown. The Commodores are two wins from bowl eligibility, their first postseason appearance since 2008.

This week: Arkansas (6-1, 2-1 SEC), 11:21 a.m., SEC Network

10. Mississippi State (3-4, 0-4 SEC, 10th last week): Two weeks ago, the Bulldogs outgained and led South Carolina for much of the game, but came up short in a 14-12 loss. Sophomore quarterback Tyler Russell started in place of benched senior quarterback Chris Relf, but for this Saturday’s game at Kentucky, it remains unsettled who will get the start. Since close losses to Auburn and LSU early in the season, Mississippi State has been a disappointment and the bye week came at a good time to regroup and figure things out. The Bulldogs still have to play Alabama and Arkansas, so Kentucky this Saturday is a must-win for bowl eligibility.

This week: at Kentucky (3-4, 0-3 SEC), 6 p.m., Fox Sports Net

11. Ole Miss (2-4, 0-3 SEC, 11th last week): The Rebels jumped out to a 17-0 lead on the Arkansas Razorbacks but 29 unanswered points, including a 52-yard touchdown run before the half, was too much to overcome in a 29-24 loss Saturday. Junior quarterback Randall Mackey completed 18 of 30 passes for 219 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, while freshman wide receivers Donte Moncrief and Nickolas Brassell combined for 13 catches and 143 yards. On the ground, the difference in the game, Arkansas outgained Ole Miss 206-151. Like Mississippi State, four wins and bowl eligibility starts this Saturday at Auburn.

This week: at Auburn (5-3, 3-2 SEC), 6 p.m., ESPNU

12. Kentucky (3-4, 0-3 SEC, 12th last week): After a slow start, the Wildcats avoided the upset and broke out with a season-high 445 yards of total offense in a 38-14 win over Jacksonville State. The offense, which ranks 118th in total offense and 111th in scoring offense, shows signs of life heading into back-to-back home games with Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Junior quarterback Morgan Newton completed 10 of 16 passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 75 yards and another touchdown. Carrying the load on the ground was CoShik Williams, who ran for a career-high 148 yards on 22 carries.

This week: Mississippi State (3-4, 0-4 SEC), 6 p.m., Fox Sports Net