This week's polls have been released. Here's how the SEC fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.
1/1. Alabama. Search us as to why the Crimson Tide's 42-10 victory at Missouri and Oregon's first bye week of the season were enough to finally convince the lone holdout in the Coaches Poll to shift his No. 1 vote from the Ducks to the Tide --it's not as if either the Alabama blowout or Oregon's off-week (of course) were anything surprising. But if the timing feels unusual, the end result feels inevitable; with all 60 first-place votes in the AP and now all 59 in the Coaches, Alabama is now a unanimous No. 1 in college football.
Well, as long as you don't count those meddling BCS computers.
3/4. Florida. South Carolina's and West Virginia's losses are the Gators' gain, with Will Muschamp's team surging into the top five of both polls. It's quite the accomplishment for a team that started the season 23rd in both, but it's entirely deserved when looking at the Gators' list of victims. But given Kansas State's rather impressive resume as well -- at Oklahoma, at Iowa State, vs. Miami -- a split between the polls with the Gators third in one and the Wildcats third in the other seems fair.
The next question: could the Gators move even higher? A win Saturday over the Gamecocks would make their overall resume dramatically more beefy than the Ducks', who'll be facing Arizona State. Combine a Florida victory with a K-State loss, ending the No. 3 vote-splitting, and the Gators will likely come close to (if not fully succeed in) making the top two an all-SEC affair.
6/6. LSU. Well, that didn't take long, did it? One massive home victory over the top-3 Gamecocks was all it took to bump the Tigers up two spots in the Coaches and three in the AP, returning them directly to the national championship conversation as the highest-ranked team with a loss. (Given how ugly the Tiger offense has looked at times, the AP arguably should have opted for unbeaten Ohio State instead. But the Buckeyes also don't have any win remotely as valuable as LSU's victory over the Gamecocks, either.)
There's currently a sizable gap between the Tigers and the all-undefeated top five, but the schedule -- headlined, of course, by Alabama's visit on Nov. 3 -- will give them opportunities to go even higher. Of course, this weekend's immensely dangerous trip to Texas A&M also gives them a chance to drop right back out of the top 10 even before the Tide come calling.
9/8. South Carolina. As with LSU the week before, voters offered the Gamecocks the benefit of the doubt after their road loss, keeping them comfortably in the top 10 and ahead of several other comparable one-loss teams like Oklahoma (in the AP), Florida State and USC. The voters have this one right, though -- between the Gamecocks' 35-7 trucking of Georgia (better than anything the Sooners have accomplished) and competitive loss at LSU (far better than losses by either the Trojans or Seminoles), Carolina deserves to be at the head of this particular one-loss pack.
Still, it's interesting to see the voters' treatment of the Gamecocks contrasted with that of West Virginia, which plummeted all the way from fifth to 17th in the AP and from fourth to 15th in the Coaches. The margin of victory in the Mountaineers' loss has something to do with it, no doubt, but it is still good, as they say, to be the king.
13/12. Georgia. The Bulldogs took the week off and appropriately moved up a single spot in the AP (thanks to the WVU loss). They stayed put in the Coaches, where voters finally realized Oregon State's perfect record and string of BCS-level scalps were worth more than Georgia's wins over struggling Tennessee, struggling-even-worse Missouri, and Vanderbilt.
15/16. Mississippi State. And speaking of both Georgia and teams that should have leapfrogged them, no one in Starkville is likely complaining about their Bulldogs' highest ranking in years and four-spot bump in the AP. But shouldn't they get the edge over the SEC East Bulldogs? Both teams' best wins are at home over Tennessee, with the rest of the schedule mostly coming against various types of in- and out-of-conference detritus. State's win over the Volunteers was equally as convincing and, of course, they don't have a 28-point loss on the resume. (Also, Coaches, do you have any explanation for you still have West Virginia ranked higher? The Mountaineers also have a hideous loss, and their two "big" wins, Texas and Baylor, aren't looking so hot these days.)
There's still not enough bulk on State's resume to move them ahead of the likes of Louisville, Florida State, etc. But head-to-head, as of this week, we'll take the Starkville Bulldogs over the Athens version.
20/19. Texas A&M. The Aggies gain two spots in both polls after escaping Louisiana Tech and seeing Texas and Stanford tumble. But despite the quality of the Ruston Bulldogs, it's hard to argue that jump should be any larger. The Aggies don't have a win over a team in the poll, and their defense has looked wobbly-and-then-some the past two weeks vs. Ole Miss and Tech. In short, the Aggies haven't played like a top-tier SEC team since their hatchet job on Arkansas.
All of which means the low end of the top 20 is just-about-right for A&M, at least until this Saturday's massive home game vs. traditional rival LSU.
Also receiving votes: How wide is the gap between the seven SEC teams above and the rest of the league? No other conference team received even one vote in either poll.