SEC Power Rankings: Mullen fails at Florida, Georgia to face Alabama in championship

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Saturday’s game against Missouri was Florida’s last chance to get out of the conference cellar. The Gators failed in overtime and said goodbye to head coach Dan Mullen. With the regular season coming to a close next week, it looks like the only team worse than Florida in the SEC is Vanderbilt.

Georgia is, of course, the best team in the conference and in the country. The Bulldogs and several other SEC teams faced fairly weak opposition this week in preparation for rivalry week. Florida did struggle a week ago against Samford, though, so many of these games served as a reminder for what is supposed to happen in an SEC-FCS matchup.

No. 2 Alabama and No. 21 Arkansas faced off, and the Razorbacks tested the Tide’s defense late. ‘Bama was able to stave off Arkansas and secure its spot in the SEC Championship regardless of the Iron Bowl outcome. Speaking of Auburn, the Tigers fell to South Carolina without Bo Nix in the final thriller of the week.

Vanderbilt did its best to play spoiler against Ole Miss, but Matt Corral and the Rebels were not going to be denied on the team’s senior night. Here’s how all 14 SEC teams stack up following Week 12.

Vanderbilt (2-9, 0-7 SEC)

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Last week’s rank: 14

This week’s game: Ole Miss 31, Vanderbilt 17

Next week: Tennessee (6-5, 3-4 SEC)

I’m not sure Vanderbilt deserves to be ranked last in the conference anymore with what’s going on in Gainesville, but a decisive 42-0 victory for the Gators over the Commodores way back in Week 6 is the tiebreaker here.

Vandy has scored 28, 17 and 17 points in its last three games against SEC opponents. Maybe today’s Vanderbilt squad would put up a better fight against a floundering Florida team.

Florida (5-6, 2-6 SEC)

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Last week’s rank: 13

This week’s game: Missouri 24, Florida 23

Next week: Florida State (5-6)

It’s all gone bad in Gainesville. Dan Mullen is out as coach, the team is nowhere where it needs to be on the field or in recruitment and the Gators will finish with their worst conference record in about 30 years.

Mullen had a chance to save his job with a final stretch of South Carolina, Samford, Missouri and Florida State. Losses against SCAR and Mizzou ended his tenure before he could ever lose to FSU.

LSU (5-6, 2-5 SEC)

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Last week’s rank: 10

This week’s game: LSU 27, UL Monroe 14

Next week: Texas A&M (8-3, 4-3 SEC)

LSU falls a few spots this week thanks to Missouri and South Carolina getting the job done against conference opponents. Beating Texas A&M seems like a long shot, meaning the Tigers should finish the year 2-6 in the conference. It’s fitting that Florida and LSU finish at the bottom together after each team bought out their expensive head coach this year.

Missouri (6-5, 3-4 SEC)

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Last week’s rank: 11

This week’s game: Missouri 24, Florida 23

Next week: Arkansas (7-4, 3-4 SEC)

Missouri may have beaten Florida, but that’s like kicking the kid at the bottom of the dogpile in the schoolyard. Tyler Badie didn’t get things going until after halftime against a bad Gators defense, and Connor Bazelak looked far from impressive.

The Tigers stay put this week thanks to South Carolina’s comeback win over Auburn.

South Carolina (6-5, 3-4 SEC)

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Last week’s rank: 12

This week’s game: South Carolina 21, Auburn 17

Next week: Clemson (8-3)

South Carolina’s comeback win against Auburn and margin of victory over Florida makes up for a narrow loss at Missouri a week ago. Had the game been in South Carolina, I think the Gamecocks come out on top. Sure, Auburn was without Bo Nix after his season ended early due to injury, but the Tigers proved they could score early in the game.

South Carolina deserves credit for taking the momentum and running with it against Auburn just as it did against Florida.

Auburn (6-5, 3-4 SEC)

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Last week’s rank: 7

This week’s game: South Carolina 21, Auburn 17

Next week: Alabama (10-1, 6-1 SEC)

Things change fast in the SEC. Auburn was in the top five just a few weeks ago but losses to Texas A&M, Mississippi State and now South Carolina have the Tigers far from the top of the conference. What could have been a meaningful Iron Bowl next week will likely be another walk in the park for Alabama.

It would’ve been nice to have Bo Nix as Auburn was outscored 21-3 by South Carolina through the final three quarters. At least the team is already bowl eligible.

Tennessee (6-5, 3-4 SEC)

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Last week’s rank: 9

This week’s game: Tennessee 60, South Alabama 14

Next week: Vanderbilt (2-9, 0-7 SEC)

Tennessee has really come along in the second half of the season, and the Vols would likely fare better against Florida now than they did in Week 4. Josh Heupel has the team scoring at will against lesser teams and hanging in there against better ones. A potential third-place finish in the SEC East is only good enough for eighth on the power rankings this week, largely due to the West being so dominant this year.

Kentucky (8-3, 5-2 SEC)

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Last week’s rank: 8

This week’s game: Kentucky 56, New Mexico State 16

Next week: Louisville (6-5)

Kentucky finally looked like it was back to its old ways against New Mexico State this weekend. The Wildcats put up 56 points en route to comfortably winning the game. Whatever bowl game Kentucky plays in should be a fun one, but it’s a shame that mid-season slipups will cost the Wildcats a better spot.

Mississippi State (7-4, 4-3 SEC)

AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Last week’s rank: 5

This week’s game: No. 25 Mississippi State 55, Tennessee State 10

Next week: Ole Miss (9-2, 5-2 SEC)

The Bulldogs have pulled off some impressive wins this year against conference foes, but the one-spot drop this week is all because of a lopsided loss to Alabama. Arkansas played better against ‘Bama this week, and a cupcake game against Tennessee State isn’t going to save Mississippi State.

Beating Ole Miss would be a great win for this team, but I think their luck as run out.

Arkansas (7-4, 3-4 SEC)

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Last week’s rank: 6

This week’s game: No. 2 Alabama 42, No. 21 Arkansas 35

Next week: Missouri (6-5, 3-4 SEC)

K.J. Jefferson is really something. He threw for 326 yards against Alabama’s defense and brought the Razorbacks within a touchdown of going to overtime against the Tide. Bryce Young had the better day and came away with the win, but Jefferson and company can leave Tuscaloosa with their heads held high after a tough battle.

Texas A&M (8-3, 4-3 SEC)

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Last week’s rank: 4

This week’s game: No. 16 Texas A&M 52, Prairie View 3

Next week: LSU (5-6, 2-5 SEC)

The Aggies had an easy week against Prairie View, and the score says everything you need to know about this one. Assuming Texas A&M handles LSU next week without issue, the Aggies will have salvaged what looked like a lost season early on.

Ole Miss (9-2, 5-2 SEC)

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Last week’s rank: 3

This week’s game: No. 12 Ole Miss 31, Vanderbilt 17

Next week: Mississippi State (7-4, 4-3 SEC)

Matt Corral said goodbye to Ole Miss in his last home game for the Rebels on Saturday, but the season is far from over. Mississippi State is up next week, and the performance given against Vanderbilt by Ole Miss this week won’t cut it. Corral knows that and ripped into his offense after the game, sparing Lane Kiffin the dirty work.

An angry Heisman candidate in his last regular-season game sounds like a lot to handle. The Bulldogs may be in for some trouble next week.

Alabama (10-1, 6-1 SEC)

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Last week’s rank: 2

This week’s game: No. 2 Alabama 42, No. 21 Arkansas 35

Next week: Auburn (6-5, 3-4 SEC)

Nick Saban and Alabama clinched the SEC West for the third time in four years on Saturday after beating Arkansas. The game everyone wanted to see will now take place in Atlanta on Dec. 4: No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 1 Alabama.

The Crimson Tide have looked more vulnerable than the Bulldogs this year, but anything can happen in a big game and Saban has been there plenty of times.

Georgia (11-0, 8-0 SEC)

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Last week’s rank: 1

This week’s game: No. 1 Georgia 56, Charleston Southern 7

Next week: Georgia Tech (3-8)

While Nick Saban may have the experience advantage, Georgia’s team is downright scary. Kirby Smart has assembled what’s being described as a once-in-a-decade defense, and no one has been able to crack the code so far.

Bryce Young may be the first to do it, but Georgia is No. 1 for a reason. The ‘Dawgs don’t slip up and will punish you if they catch you.

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