I’m probably a little too reliant on teams’ recent histories to do these power rankings in a manner that’s going to cause uproar. Despite what I see from a team in a certain year, I just need more than half the season to go by before I buy into the hype or elevated performance of a specific team. To wit, look at the minor shuffling I made this week:
All of these teams can still make it to the Playoff; yes, even Auburn. If Auburn wins every game going forward, they’ll have pelts of LSU, Georgia, Alabama, whoever makes it from the East, plus the Oregon pelt from earlier in the season: that is a Playoff caliber resume. And even with a loss, Auburn is playing at a Playoff caliber level against a typically brutal schedule. Alabama, LSU, and Georgia are all still Playoff contenders as well, so this tier only features Auburn dropping one spot with everything else staying the same.
Second case in point to my slow-to-react tendencies: Florida. Did they just beat Auburn? Heck, yeah. Do I think they have a serious case for the Playoff? Absolutely not. If they win every game— sure, but between LSU, South Carolina, Georgia, and Missouri... that’s two losses at least, right? If they beat LSU this week I’ll probably move them up to Tier I, but they haven’t done anything in the past 10 years to show that they’re capable of such consistent performance. And while they certainly have performed at a higher level than Auburn so far this season, they’re barely above Missouri currently, and I don’t even think that we view Missouri as a Tier I team this year.
A&M and State were off and Missouri just lost their best defensive player and possibly won’t have their starting quarterback for awhile. These three stay put for now.
South Carolina, Ole Miss, and Tennessee have found their quarterbacks of the future, but they’re all freshmen, so it’ll be a rough road for this season. Kentucky had to dip into their third quarterback this past week and will be pressing a banged up Sawyer Smith back into action this week. Bowl games are still the goal and (mostly) feasible, especially if Tennessee can play every week like they did in the first half against Georgia, but the Vols and ‘Cats are close to moving down another tier.
Vanderbilt is, somehow, looking worse every week. Arkansas might nab one more win or two, but this is totally a “sim to end of season” scenario for both of these teams.