SEC Poll Reactions, Week 4

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

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.

(AP/Coaches)

1/1. Alabama. LSU didn't actually lose to Auburn, but the Tigers' 12-10 escape was close enough to a loss in the pollsters' eyes to be Alabama's gain all the same -- the Tide came this close to becoming a unanimous No. 1, collecting 59 of the AP's 60 No. 1 votes and 57 of the coaches' 59. (The AP had one holdout who stuck with the Tigers, while one coach opted for Florida State over either SEC school.)

No matter; after Alabama's no-more-effort-than-absolutely-necessary 40-7 win over FAU, the gap between the Tide and No. 2 Oregon is now wide enough that only an Alabama loss can conceivably drop Nick Saban's team out of the top spot this season.

3/3. LSU. So the Tigers' latest stay at No. 2 lasted only a week, thanks to pollsters deciding Oregon's 49-0 bludgeoning of Arizona was reason enough to anoint a different Pac-12 squad the nation's No. 2 team this week. Frankly, we're not sure that's fair. LSU already has its own lopsided home win over a Pac-12 team on its resume (a 41-3 Week 3 whipping of Washington,) and whatever the merits of the Tigers' narrow victory at Auburn, that win should nonetheless count for more than the Ducks' three home wins over the non-BCS likes of Arkansas State, Fresno State, and Tennessee Tech. Top-to-bottom, LSU's resume currently outweighs that of the Ducks.

That said, there's also little question LSU's offense did not look like the offense of the No. 2 team in the country for the great majority of Saturday night's game, and that was against a porous Auburn defense the likes of Clemson, Mississippi State, and ULM had already shredded. Until the Tigers' attack shows a little more life against better competition, they can't complain too loudly about still residing in the top three.

5/5. Georgia. Even the Bulldogs' 48-3 rip job on Vanderbilt wasn't enough to vault them past No. 4 Florida State -- not surprising, given that the Seminoles were busy beating then-No. 10 Clemson by two touchdowns on national TV -- but that doesn't mean the victory didn't come with a reward in the polls. The coaches took advantage of Oklahoma's demise to bump the Bulldogs up a spot and into the top five in both ballots, and even after South Carolina's impressive win over Missouri, Georgia remains comfortably ahead of the sixth-ranked Gamecocks in both polls. With two decisive SEC wins under their belts and the Todd Gurley-Keith Marshall tailback tag team looking more and more explosive by the week, fifth seems right where the Bulldogs belong.

6/6. South Carolina. Like Georgia, the Gamecocks don't have any single victory as valuable as AP No. 7 Kansas State's win at Oklahoma in the slot just behind them, but there's no doubting the overall level of play reached by Steve Spurrier's team the last few weeks. Since grinding out their Week 1 win at Vandy, the Gamecocks have slaughtered East Carolina and UAB (the latter most recently seen pushing Ohio State for 50-55 minutes) and now throttled Missouri even more comprehensively than the Bulldogs did (albeit at home).

Yes, Georgia and Carolina's ascension into the top six of both polls means the SEC is hogging four of those six spots. But until any of the four looks less convincing than they have been, there's no reason that shouldn't be the case.

11/12. Florida. And hey, to anyone who thinks the SEC is getting too much respect from the pollsters, look at the comparison between the Gators and West Virginia and/or Texas. Florida trails the Mountaineers by two spots in the AP poll and five in the coaches poll, despite the fact that West Virginia's best win to date is a 10-point wheeze past Maryland at home; the Gators also trail the Longhorns by two spots in the Coaches, even though no one would argue Texas's lone road win at Ole Miss is somehow more impressive than the Gators' two road wins at Texas A&M and Tennessee.

With a bye week on tap, the Gators likely won't see that status change by this time next week. Beat LSU Oct. 6, though, and we'd like to think even the coaches could get things straight after that.

21/19. Mississippi State. Another week, another uninspiring slog past overmatched Sun Belt opposition for the West Division Bulldogs. Which makes the coaches' decision to keep Mississippi State ahead of Oregon State -- which now has two victories over ranked teams, or two more than Mississippi State does -- all the more inexplicable. The lack of other qualified candidates means the AP's No. 21 ranking isn't all that out of whack, but when your best victory is a home triumph over a team whose only win in four tries is an overtime escape vs. ULM, even that might be a little too much credit.

Also receiving votes: Fellow Gators victims Texas A&M and Tennessee are each receiving a handful of votes in both polls, but neither's particularly close to cracking the Top 25; the Aggies are "No. 32" in the coaches poll after walloping FCS South Carolina State.

 
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