Week 5 wasn’t the most eventful slate in the SEC.
In the best game of the week, LSU fell in a 55-49 shootout against Ole Miss that featured more than 100 combined points and 1,300 yards of offense, handing the Tigers their second loss of the season and likely ending their College Football Playoff hopes.
Several teams were on a bye, and there weren’t many marquee matchups. Still, our SEC power rankings saw quite a bit of shakeup this week. Here’s how things stand as we prepare for Week 6.
Vanderbilt Commodores (2-4, 0-2 SEC)
Even playing at home, the Commodores couldn’t keep it close against Missouri in a 38-21 loss. Quarterback AJ Swann was injured, allowing veteran Ken Seals to make the start. Swann is the most dangerous part of this team, and his health will be important to monitor moving forward. Right now, the Commodores’ best chance of avoiding a winless SEC slate seems to be a contest against Florida in Gainesville this weekend, where Vandy has won just once since 1945.
Mississippi State Bulldogs (2-3, 0-3 SEC)
The Bulldogs were just never going to keep it close against Alabama, which eventually pulled away to a 40-17 win. Mississippi State still hasn’t quite figured out its offensive identity in the post-Mike Leach era, and a game against a stout Alabama defense didn’t really present much of an opportunity to do so.
Arkansas Razorbacks (2-3, 0-2 SEC)
The promising signs Arkansas showed on offense against LSU may have been more of an indictment of the Tigers’ defense than anything else. Even with Raheim Sanders back in the fold, the Hogs couldn’t get anything going against a Texas A&M defense that played very well in a 34-22 win. The Razorbacks have now lost three in a row after giving up more than 30 points to a team led by a backup quarterback, and pressure could be mounting for Sam Pittman.
South Carolina Gamecocks (2-3, 1-2 SEC)
South Carolina just couldn’t recapture the lightning in a bottle it found against the Volunteers in 2022. Despite two Joe Milton interceptions, the Vols won 41-20 thanks to a stellar rushing attack from Jaylen Wright. Spencer Rattler was having a very nice start to the season, but this was not his best game as he had just 169 yards and threw a pick-six. The Gamecocks have seemingly regressed this fall.
Auburn Tigers (3-2, 0-2 SEC)
Auburn gave Georgia a much better game than many expected, and the Tigers had a real chance to win. This team has limitations, but Hugh Freeze has made it punchy in Year 1 if nothing else. Auburn may have one of the better defenses in the league right now, and while the offense is, unfortunately, a mess, Freeze could have this team competitive sooner rather than later if he can find a quarterback.
Florida Gators (3-2, 1-1 SEC)
Florida’s offense had its typical struggles against Kentucky, which was to be expected. What was less expected was the fact that a Gators defense that had been the best in the SEC heading into the game was gashed for a career day from running back Ray Davis, who had 280 yards on the ground. This team can’t score easily, and when the defense isn’t playing at a very high level, it just doesn’t really have a path to win games.
Missouri Tigers (5-0, 1-0 SEC)
Missouri hasn’t faced a particularly difficult test, but they’re still one of the league’s biggest surprises as they’re one of just three remaining unbeaten teams. The passing offense is very efficient led by Brady Cook and one of the league’s top offensive weapons in receiver Luther Burden. The Tigers face a major test this weekend when they host LSU. If they win that game, this could be a team ready to make some noise in the East in what is a crucial year for coach Eli Drinkwitz.
Kentucky Wildcats (5-0, 2-0 SEC)
The Devin Leary experiment hasn’t had particularly encouraging early returns, but it doesn’t matter when Kentucky runs the ball like it did on Saturday. We don’t really know how good this team is defensively or if a one-dimensional offense will prove to be costly, but we will have answers to these questions and more when the Wildcats face Georgia between the hedges on Saturday.
Tennessee Volunteers (4-1, 1-1 SEC)
The Volunteers responded well from a loss to Florida two weeks ago against South Carolina at home on Saturday. Tennessee was able to establish the run much more effectively than against the Gators, and its defense looked much improved, as well. Milton still doesn’t seem to command the passing offense with as much poise as Hendon Hooker did, though, so I can’t escape the feeling that this year’s squad has a much lower ceiling.
Texas A&M Aggies (4-1, 2-0 SEC)
Losing quarterback Conner Weigman for the year was brutal for this team, but the Aggies have an experienced backup in Max Johnson who was played well over the last two weeks. Texas A&M’s defense seems to have improved a bit since the loss to Miami, and the offense may be taking strides under Bobby Petrino. Still, it will take more than wins over SEC West bottomfeeders to prove that the Aggies are a real threat to win the division.
LSU Tigers (3-2, 2-1 SEC)
LSU is currently in the process of wasting the most prolific offense the program has seen since the 2019 season. Jayden Daniels is having a Heisman-caliber season, and the whole unit is loaded with experienced and talented weapons. But the defense is a massive problem, and it’s been torched in losses to the two most talented offenses it has faced. LSU can score enough points to be in any game, but it’s going to struggle to win games against the most explosive offenses if things don’t change.
Ole Miss Rebels (4-1, 1-1 SEC)
Ole Miss responded very well to a gut-wrenching loss to Alabama, absolutely lighting up the Tigers on Saturday thanks to one of the best outings of Jaxson Dart’s career to this point. It’s clear that LSU doesn’t pose the same threat as Alabama up front, and it’s fair to have concerns about the Rebels’ defense. This team may be volatile, but it’s fun, dangerous and may still be a threat to win the West.
Alabama Crimson Tide (4-1, 2-0 SEC)
Alabama still looks like a very limited team on offense, but the defense may be one of the best units in the entire country. Mississippi State found something on offense in Week 4 against South Carolina, but Kevin Steele’s defense didn’t allow that trend to continue this week. This still looks like the team to beat in the SEC, but it faces a very real test on the road in College Station on Saturday.
Georgia Bulldogs (5-0, 2-0 SEC)
The Bulldogs maintained the nation’s longest active winning streak on Saturday, but it’s fair to say this team doesn’t look as dominant as Georgia teams from the last couple of seasons. It had some sloppy play and had to dig out of a hole for the second-straight conference matchup. If a bad Auburn offense gave Georgia all it could handle, this team may have more struggles during the regular season than we anticipated. Still, Brock Bowers remains unguardable, so good luck with that.