1. Alabama (8-0)
The Crimson Tide are not only far better than any team in the SEC, but far better than any team in the country. In a matchup this past Saturday against #6 Texas A&M, Alabama walked away with a 33-14 victory. Defense is their strength as they rank 3rd in the nation in scoring defense, but their offense is flourishing as well under true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts. The gunslinger from Channelview, Texas has greatly enhanced the Tide’s offense, throwing for over 1500 yards through 8 games and rushing for another 521 while accounting for 20 touchdowns. The Crimson Tide have outscored their opponents 351-119, proving that they are the best in the country.
2. Texas A&M (6-1)
Though the Aggies were handed their first loss Saturday, they are still having a strong season. With 4 of their 6 wins against teams that have been ranked this season, Texas A&M has a very impressive résumé. While graduate transfer quarterback Trevor Knight has been solid this year with 20 touchdowns, freshman running back Trayveon Williams has been the Aggies’ most productive player on offense, averaging over 100 rushing yards per game. The Aggies’ defense this season has been led by junior defensive end Myles Garrett. The 2015 All-American from Arlington, Texas is 11th in the nation in tackles for loss and had 3.5 sacks this past Saturday against Alabama.
3. Tennessee (5-2)
I struggled deciding whether Tennessee or Florida should be ranked at 3. While Florida has the better record, the Volunteers gave Florida their sole loss, leading to them getting the #3 spot. After starting off the season 5-0 with several thrilling finishes, Tennessee has dropped 2 straight. Their overtime loss on the road to Texas A&M was not bad by any means. However, getting blown out 49-10 at home by Alabama proved that Tennessee is not a national contender this season. Though the Vols will likely finish undefeated in the SEC East, they do not control their own destiny to win the division, as Florida needs to lose another game for them to have a shot at going to Atlanta. The Volunteers have been led by senior quarterback Joshua Dobbs, totaling for 19 touchdowns on the season. Tennessee also has a strong duo at running back formed by Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara. The juniors have combined for 748 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on the season.
4. Florida (5-1)
The Gators have likely been the conference’s most inconsistent team. Their offense has been on and off all season, largely influenced by the performance of the offensive line and the health of sophomore quarterback Luke Del Rio. Though the Gators have only given up 6 sacks this year, it is evident that their young offensive line has struggled mightily. Del Rio, who missed the Vanderbilt and Tennessee games, has been decent this season when healthy. He has relied heavily on sophomore receiver Antonio Callaway, who is 2nd in the conference with 79.8 receiving yards per game. The Gators have used a running backs by committee approach, with four running backs getting significant carries every game. Sophomore Jordan Scarlett and Freshman Lamichal Perine have looked the strongest this fall and will likely get the bulk of the carries the rest of the year. The Gators defense has been stellar as usual, ranking second in the country in total defense. With possibly the best two corners in the country in Quincy Wilson and Teez Tabor, it has been near impossible to have success throwing on Florida. In order to win the East, the Gators likely need to win out. This will only be possible if their offense can become more consistent.
5. Auburn (5-2)
Auburn has been one of the surprises of the SEC this season, as the Tigers were predicted to finish 6th in the SEC West at the SEC Media days. The Tigers’ two losses have come against top ten teams with a 6 point loss against Clemson and a loss at home against Texas A&M. The Tigers’ offense has improved since going with Sean White as the starting quarterback after shuffling through a 3 man competition in the first few games. The sophomore out of Boca Raton, Florida has not put up eye popping numbers, but has done a stellar job managing the Tigers’ run first offense that ranks 3rd in the country in rushing offense. Their strong running game has been led by Kamryn Pittway and Kerryon Johnson, who have combined for 1,238 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. The Tigers’ defense has been stellar as well, giving up more than 2 scores just once as they gave up 29 points to Texas A&M. After demolishing #17 Arkansas this past Saturday 56-3, the Tigers are one of the hottest teams in the conference. They still control their own destiny to Atlanta as well, as the Tigers would win the west if they can win out and pull off a remarkable upset against Alabama in the final week of the regular season.
6. LSU (5-2)
LSU has had one of the most interesting seasons so far. After starting the season 2-2, the Tigers fired their 11 year head coach Les Miles. The Tigers are 3-0 since his firing under interim head coach Ed Orgeron, but are facing a daunting stretch at the end of the season, as the Tigers face Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, and Texas A&M in their last 4 games. As usual, LSU’s defense has been their strength, ranking 14th in the country in total defense. The Tigers have missed Heisman candidate Leonard Fournette heavily this season, as he has only played in 4 of their 7 games this season. Fournette has been extremely effective when he has played, gaining over 100 rushing yards in each game, including 284 yards on just 16 carries this past Saturday against Ole Miss. Backup running back Derrius Guice has done a great job replacing Fournette, rushing for over 100 yards in all 3 games that Fournette missed. The offense has appeared to improve as graduate transfer quarterback Danny Etling has gotten more comfortable with the offense. If Etling can continue to improve and Fournette stays healthy, the Tigers have a chance at finishing their intimating schedule strong.
7. Arkansas (5-3)
The Razorbacks have had somewhat of an underwhelming season thus far. After starting out 3-0 with a victory over #15 TCU, the Razorbacks have lost 3 out of their last 5. Arkansas not only has lost 3 games, but have lost them by an average of 31 points, including a 53 point loss to Auburn this past Saturday. The offense has been led by quarterback Austin Allen and running back Rawleigh Williams III. Allen, a junior out of Fayetteville, Arkansas, has put up stellar numbers this season with 2048 yards passing and 18 touchdowns. Williams III has been impressive as well, averaging over 100 yards a game with 5 touchdowns behind the Razorbacks’ talented offensive line. On the contrary, the Arkansas defense has struggled this season, giving up more than 40 points in their losses to Alabama, Auburn, and Texas A&M and 38 in their overtime win against TCU. The Razorbacks have a difficult two weeks ahead of them after their bye week with matchups at home against Florida and LSU. Those two games will likely tell if they have a respectful season, as losing both would drop the Razorbacks to 5-5 on the year.
8. Ole Miss (3-4)
Ole Miss has been the biggest disappointment in the SEC this season. The Rebels opened the season ranked 11th in the nation, but have only had wins against Memphis, Georgia, and Wofford. Though all 4 losses have been to ranked teams, including a 48-43 loss to #1 Alabama, the Rebels have struggled to meet expectations once again. Though quarterback Chad Kelly ranks 17th in the nation in passing yards, the senior has been wildly inconsistent. Kelly has thrown for over 2,000 yards, but has thrown for 7 interceptions, most of them being in key moments of games. Ole Miss has struggled using a running game by committee, utilizing 3 running backs heavily while ranking 94th in the country in rushing offense. The Rebels defense has struggled mightily this season as well, ranking 89th in the nation in scoring defense. At this point in the season, Ole Miss is in a battle to become bowl eligible. To get to 6 wins, the Rebels need to win 3 out of their 5 remaining games, with 2 of the games being against Auburn and Texas A&M.
9. Georgia (4-3)
Georgia started off the season hot with a victory in Atlanta over #22 North Carolina and winning their next 2 games to start out 3-0. However, the Dawgs have cooled off significantly, losing 3 out of their last 4, including a homecoming loss to Vanderbilt. Fans in Athens understand that this season is a rebuilding year under first year head coach Kirby Smart, but the loss to Vanderbilt have Dawg fans anxious. Freshman Quarterback Jacob Eason has shown he has more than enough talent to compete in the SEC, but it is obvious that he has a lot of growing up to do before he is fully capable of leading Georgia’s offense. The Bulldogs offensive line has struggled mightily this season, hindering the production of star running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Chubb, coming off of a season ending ACL injury in 2015, was seen as a possible Heisman candidate before the season. However, Chubb has rushed for just 83 yards a game, a significant drop off from his 150 yards a game before he was injured last year. Aside from giving up 45 points to Ole Miss, the defense has been solid this season. Defensive end Lorenzo Carter is having a strong season, tallying 4 sacks and 4 tackles for loss on the year. While the Dawgs likely will not win the SEC East, it is pivotal that they finish the season strong to gain some momentum going into next season. Georgia has a key matchup this upcoming Saturday against Florida in a rivalry clash that is always a can’t miss game.
10. Kentucky (4-3)
Kentucky is in familiar territory at the bottom of the SEC. While the Wildcats have a winning record, their best win has been over Vanderbilt. After their opening week 44-35 loss to Southern Miss, it became evident that the Wildcats were going to have another subpar season. A bright spot on the Kentucky team has been running back Stanley “Boom” Williams. The junior out of Monroe, Georgia has averaged 7 yards a carry in a one dimensional offense. While Boom has had some success, the Wildcat passing game has struggled drastically, as they completed as many passes as interceptions in a loss against Florida. Stephen Johnson and Drew Barker have split snaps this season, both struggling as they have combined to throw just 9 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Kentucky also will be in a battle to become bowl eligible, as they need to win 2 out of their 5 next games that include matchups against Tennessee, Georgia, and #5 Louisville.
11. Vanderbilt (4-4)
There was talk that head coach Derek Mason was on the hot seat until upsetting Georgia on the road two weeks ago. The talk has cooled, and Vanderbilt has put together a somewhat decent season considering the talent difference between their roster and the rest of the SEC. Running back Ralph Webb has carried the Commodores, averaging over 100 rushing yards per game and tallying for 6 touchdowns on the season. The junior out of Gainesville, Florida has been one of the best backs in the country, ranking 11th in the country in rushing yards. Vanderbilt has struggled at quarterback under Kyle Shurmur, who has thrown just 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. The Commodore defense has been decent, ranking 62nd in the country in total defense. They have held their opponents to low scoring in most of their games, including holding #14 Florida to just 13 points. The Commodores will need to win 2 out of their 4 remaining games this to be bowl eligible. This might be difficult, as they face #15 Auburn, Missouri, Ole Miss, and #18 Tennessee.
12. Mississippi State (2-5)
Mississppi State has drastically struggled this season after losing star quarterback Dak Prescott to the NFL. It appeared under Prescott that Mississippi State was up and coming, as they were even briefly ranked #1 in the country in 2014. However, much has changed and the Bulldogs are 2-5 so far this season, with ugly losses to South Alabama and BYU. The Bulldog offense has struggled in their first season without Prescott, ranking 77th in the country in total offense. However, sophomore quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has done a decent job this season, throwing for over 1,000 yards on the year while rushing for over 500. While Fitzgerald has had success running the football, Mississippi State has struggled at finding a consistent running back, as their second leading rusher is Brandon Holloway with just 208 yards on the year. The Bulldog defense hasn’t had much success this season, as they rank 73rd in the country in total defense. That ranking likely will not improve as they face Texas A&M and Alabama in the next couple of weeks. While Mississippi State likely won’t make a bowl, it would help to win a couple more games and gain some momentum going into next season.
13. South Carolina (3-4)
The Gamecocks have had a bad season under Will Muschamp in his first season as South Carolina’s head coach. Perry Orth and Brandon Mcilwain split the bulk of the snaps at quarterback for the Gamecocks through the first 6 games and both struggled to find success. The two have combined for just 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Freshman Jake Bentley started this past Saturday and threw for 201 yards and 2 touchdowns, but was going up against 1-7 Massachusetts. Gamecock fans are hoping that Bentley could be the answer at quarterback this season and provide some consistency. The Gamecocks’ running game has been abysmal this season, ranking 122nd out of 128 teams in the country in rushing offense. That ranking will have to change if South Carolina wants to become bowl eligible. The defense has been stellar like most Muschamp coached teams, ranking 28th in the country in scoring defense. While the defense has been good enough this year to keep the Gamecocks in most ball games, their offense has drastically held back their team.
14. Missouri (2-5)
Just as Tiger fans thought that this season couldn’t get any worse, Missouri went ahead and lost their homecoming game to Middle Tennessee State. The Tigers have struggled in all facets of the game this year, as they have been blown out by conference foes Florida and LSU. One bright spot on the Missouri offense has been quarterback Drew Lock. The sophomore ranks 22nd in the nation in passing yards per game and has thrown 26 touchdowns on the season. The running game has been split by Damarea Crockett and Ish Witter as the duo has combined for over 1,000 yards. The Tiger defense has struggled this season, ranking 80th in the nation in scoring defense. Luckily for the Tigers their schedule is not too difficult for the rest of the season, facing just one ranked team as they face Tennessee in Knoxville.