College football rankings: Florida, Georgia, LSU battle for No. 2 among all 14 SEC teams

There's a chill in the air, the leaves are changing colors, the season is in full swing, and the SEC has again solidified itself as the best conference in college football. Four teams are entrenched in the top 10, and two more have made brief appearances before falling back. 

Alabama has picked up right where it left off with star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.. LSU's offense has -- at long last -- become a weapon and not a liability. Georgia doesn't appear to have any flaws. Florida's pass rush is more terrifying than actual alligators.

The rest of the SEC behind those four heavyweights leaves plenty to be desired. Auburn's offense has been one-dimensional save for one outing, Missouri has an inexplicable loss to Wyoming on its resume, Texas A&M has struggled, and the back end of the conference is as messy as a slab of ribs covered in barbecue sauce.

But who's the best? Who's the worst? Let's break down the SEC with some early-October Power Rankings.


To the surprise of nobody, the Crimson Tide are cruising along with no sign of slowing down anytime in the near future. Tua Tagovailoa has tossed 23 touchdowns (no interceptions) and has been spreading the ball around to his four receivers who could probably qualify for the Olympics. The defense hasn't been consistent, but what do you expect considering both middle linebackers -- including All-American Dylan Moses -- were lost in fall camp?

The Tigers have been frauds ever since the final years of the Les Miles era thanks to a remarkable unwillingness to evolve on offense. That changed this year thanks to quarterback Joe Burrow and passing game coordinator Joe Brady. The two, combined with star receivers Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase, have transformed LSU to an offensive force. LSU has always had the players to be actual contenders, but was unprepared to win outside of its comfort zone. It changed that comfort zone, and now has a legit chance to make noise on the national scene.
The Bulldogs are as solid as can be. The wide receiver question has been answered thanks to Lawrence Cager and George Pickens, the defense is getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and they've already notched a signature win over Notre Dame. The question for Georgia is its top end. Quarterback Jake Fromm is a superstar but has yet to show that he can go score-for-score with a high-octane offense. On the flip side, the fact that he hasn't had to speaks volumes about where Georgia is as a program.
If there was a doubt on how worthy the Gators were of top-10 status, they answered that Saturday in The Swamp with a defensive masterpiece against Auburn. They have navigated through the injury to quarterback Feleipe Franks and several key defenders to find themselves 6-0 and heading straight into a massive test in Baton Rouge against LSU. Now that cornerback CJ Henderson and defensive lineman Jabari Zuniga have rejoined corner Marco Wilson and defensive lineman Jonathan Greenard in the starting lineup, the sky's the limit.  
The Tigers' defensive front led by Derrick Brown is nasty and will keep them in every game they play. The offense, however, leaves plenty to be desired. True freshman Bo Nix has had some great moments -- including the game-winner in the closing seconds in the opener vs. Oregon -- but looked lost in the loss to Florida on Saturday. They're not a CFP team but have the upside to make a New Year's Six bowl. 
A opening season loss to Wyoming made the Tigers an afterthought, but you should be thinking about them. They entered Saturday with the SEC's best defense and throttled a solid Troy team on Saturday. Quarterback Kelly Bryant, who left Saturday's victory vs. Troy with a leg injury, has been solid, and the running game led by Larry Rountree III has come on strong.
The Aggies entered the season with a ton of hype but have fallen flat when it mattered most. The running game hasn't broke the 100-yard mark in any of their three SEC games, and quarterback Kellen Mond hasn't been able to do it all by himself. There's no shame in getting worked by Clemson and Auburn's defenses. But Arkansas took Texas A&M to the wire last month, and that's inexcusable.
The Gamecocks dropped their first two SEC games of the season to Alabama and Missouri, respectively. They cleared the Kentucky hurdle last time out, and true freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski has tossed five touchdowns and three interceptions after being thrust into action in place of Jake Bentley. Running backs Rico Dowdle and Tavien Feaster have provided a nice one-two punch to help Hilinski make the transition. 
Mississippi State was bound to take a step back defensively after losing three stars to the NFL, but it has fallen off a cliff. They are giving up 401.4 yards per game and a whopping 6.2 yards per play. Luckily for coach Joe Moorhead, running back Kylin Hill has ascended to superstar status. 
The Rebels have found a spark with talented running backs Scottie Phillips and Jerrion Ealy, and wide receiver Elijah Moore has provided much-needed balance. But the defense is as porous as it has ever been, and the quarterback situation is still a little uneasy -- although John Rhys Plumlee has looked good the last two weeks in place of the injured Matt Corral.
My how the mighty have fallen. Kentucky has gone from having a dream season to a total nightmare, complete with a season-ending injury to starting quarterback Terry Wilson and a defense that hasn't been able to make up for the loss of edge threat Josh Allen. 
Coach Jeremy Pruitt's second year on Rocky Top hit rock bottom early with losses to Georgia State and BYU. Pruitt was forced to replace quarterback Jarrett Guarantano with Brian Maurer prior to the Georgia game, and the Vols haven't been able to find any consistency. 
The Commodores sit at 1-4 with their lone win coming over NIU. But running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn has still been a monster and they did rack up 38 points against LSU. That has to count for something, right? At least they didn't lose to San Jose State.
The Hogs lost to San Jose State, struggled with Portland State and their only win is over a below-average Colorado State team. Quarterback Ben Hicks was replaced by Nick Starkel, who threw six picks in his last two games before an injury put Hicks back in the lineup. It's fair to say that Year Two for coach Chad Morris has been a disaster. 
College Football Writer

Barrett Sallee has been a member of the sports media in various aspects since 2001. He is currently a college football writer for CBS Sports, analyst for CBS Sports HQ and host for the SiriusXM college... Full Bio

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