With the Southeastern Conference championship game already set, the two teams in the College Football Playoff race handled their business on Saturday, but one looked way better. That and a major upset against another team lead our SEC Power Rankings following Week 12 of the 2023 season. Let’s dive in on what happened.
They had another week off, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Commodores are the worst team in the league. Even with a bad loss by another team, Clark Lea’s team has simply been awful all year long, so it’s not enough to move Vandy up any spots. If they can shock the Vols this weekend, that changes everything, but it doesn’t seem likely.
Talk about a bad loss! Clearly, Hugh Freeze’s Tigers were looking ahead to the Alabama Crimson Tide, so it was fair to not expect them to cover against the New Mexico State Aggies. Even an upset loss with this inconsistent team looked possible. However, losing 31-10 was embarrassing. They don’t deserve to not be last in our SEC Power Rankings, but they’re here by default.
12. Mississippi State
With Zach Arnett fired, this team can thank Auburn for keeping it from being one of the worst teams in the league. Blowing out the Southern Miss Golden Eagles the way they did, actually covering, was a pleasant shock for this program, so they deserve to move up a spot after the horrendous game Auburn played over the weekend.
Billy Napier’s Gators did put up a fight, but at the end of that day, nearly beating the Missouri Tigers in one week on the road doesn’t undo weeks of poor play. They still are a bad program right now, and they have major issues to work out. In-game coaching is one of them. At this point, everything about Florida comes down to hopes for them on the recruiting trail.
Sam Pittman may not be going to a bowl, but he’s got the Hogs playing okay as of late. Beating the FIU Panthers the way they did is commendable, and you have to respect the Razorbacks for still wanting to play hard for their coach, who is likely to be fired. Despite that loss to Auburn, they still beat Florida, putting them up here in our SEC Power Rankings.
Once again, Mark Stoops’ Wildcats were exposed as frauds. They had a red-hot start to the season, there was hope that they could compete for championships, and then they got blown out by everybody who matters. Losing a close one on the road to the South Carolina Gamecocks is no shame given what’s expected of the program, but it proves where it’s at.
8. South Carolina
Don’t look now, but Shane Beamer and the Gamecocks are now one win away from a bowl game after a disastrous season. Spencer Rattler has no help and didn’t have the type of year he wanted to have, but he can do a lot for himself and the program if his team can pull off a very possible upset at home over the Clemson Tigers this weekend.
7. Texas A&M
With or without Jimbo Fisher, the Aggies were naturally going to dominate the Abilene Christian Wildcats to get to 7-4 on the year. That blowout win over Mississippi State last week keeps them in the top half of our SEC Power Rankings for now, but to be fair, it’s a very mediocre mid-tier. Still, this team is loaded with talent, so a top 25 finish is still possible.
Only by default did the Vols not fall to the bottom half of the league. A blowout loss to the Georgia Bulldogs by itself wouldn’t hurt them, but back to back blowout losses, one of which was to a team that barely won this past weekend, didn’t do them any favors. However, in a down year for the league, they remain in the upper-echelon.
Eli Drinkwitz’s Tigers maybe could have fallen more dramatically in our SEC Power Rankings after nearly losing to Florida, but Mizzou’s blowout win over Tennessee still holds weight. Also, you could say that there was a hangover in this game and that it was a fluke. As a result, we’re not going to punish them too much for an ugly win, even at home.
4. Ole Miss
Lane Kiffin’s Rebels are in the same tier as Mizzou right now. Both programs are likely going to finish 10-2 in what are better than average seasons but years in which they still aren’t on par with the elite of the league. Still, this team has a New Years Six bowl game in play if it wins the Egg Bowl Thursday, and this is the second time in three years Kiffin had one of the better teams in the league.
Okay, so Brian Kelly and the Tigers lost to Ole Miss earlier in the year. This is still a better team, and it’s playing much better right now. That Alabama loss is nothing to be ashamed of. Jayden Daniels would be a Heisman frontrunner if this team only had one loss. He is playing like the best quarterback in the nation, and LSU is one of the three best teams in the league.
For a while, despite a loss, Alabama was looking like the best team in the league and maybe even the nation. Jalen Milroe has turned into a Heisman candidate. Blowing out the Chattanooga Mocs did nothing to hurt them, but it didn’t help them, as Nick Saban’s team can’t stay No. 1 given what other teams are doing. They still don’t control their own destiny.
Over the course of three weeks, Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs have won three two-score games against top 25 opponents. They were 30-21, 52-17 and 38-10. With an undefeated record, that’s more than enough to put Georgia firmly atop our SEC Power Rankings now, and Carson Beck has played his way into a Heisman contender.