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SEC Power Rankings - Week 9

Alabama’s (not) favored for the first time in 98 years, Mississippi State has a tough week on the ‘cruiting trail, LSU & Florida score big, and Vandy’s backing up the Brinks trucks

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NCAA Football: Missouri at Arkansas
The blind squirrel found the nut this year ... big deal. Just wait until you have to deal with Sam Horn the next four years!

GEORGIA - How good are the Dawgs this season? They’re giving up 6.5 points Saturday in Atlanta, breaking a streak of 92 games in which the Tide entered as the favorite. That streak started a week after Alabama was a one-point road underdog in October of 2015 to, yep, at none other than Georgia.

ALABAMA - Um, yeah, Alabama won that aforementioned game in Athens, 38-10, so take that any way you will.

OLE MISS - You knew what you were getting into when you hired Lane Kiffin. Never mind that no other regular season in program history has been this successful; the dude was going to be linked to a number of prominent job openings even if he had won three games.

ARKANSAS - At least offensively, the future is rosy in Fayetteville — maybe even defensively if our good friend Barry continues to progress (97th in scoring defense nationally in 2020; 46th in 2021) — but time will tell whether Sam Pittman’s supremely impressive exploits to date have laid the foundation for a legitimate SEC West run.

KENTUCKY - University officials and Mark Stoops this week agreed in principle to extend the coach’s contract through the 2027 season. The deal would make Stoops the second-longest tenured head coach in the SEC, behind only Saban, and serve as a fitting acknowledgement of a decade-long commitment to a program that, despite the lack of a divisional title, has made immeasurable strides under his watch.

TEXAS A&M - Tweets nearly a week old are like the Dead Sea scrolls, but the shade thrown by Rittenberg could very well be applicable on its anniversary for who knows how long. A 10-win season may come along here and there, but how do you justify moving on from Jimbo Fisher, whose four-year contract extension prior to the season entitles him to the largest buyout the amateur football world has ever seen?

TENNESSEE - After a historically successful first season in Knoxville, Josh Heupel this week turned a cold shoulder to the possibility of him coming to the rescue of his alma mater to fulfill the sudden void left by Lincoln Riley, and that’s what makes the Vols an early dark horse to challenge Georgia in 2022.

MISSISSIPPI STATE - The program lost two 2022 commits at safety Wednesday. Exactly two weeks before the early signing period commences. Surely, a harmless combination of residue from the Egg Bowl loss (maybe) and 18-year-olds changing their minds as often as the wind blows (probably), but the opinion mill — not to be confused with its trustworthy cousin, rumor — never, ever stops working.

AUBURN - Bryan Harsin was an easy target on Twitter following the Iron Bowl, but the usual trolls showed some unexpected sympathy. Still, questions abound: If offensive coordinator Mike Bobo was already on a short leash — as evidenced by his firing 48 hours after the Alabama loss — why not cash in all of your chips while you’re already playing with house money and go for two after the first OT?

LSU - If you saw Brian Kelly coming, you’re a diabolical liar, but dammit, I love the hire! The SEC West might be home to most intriguing lineup of head coaches in the country.

MISSOURI - Grateful for a bowl appearance in the second year of Eli, but 2022 will tell us much more things — one way or the other.

SOUTH CAROLINA - Talk about a crawl to the finish line. USC lost its seventh consecutive to Clemson thanks to 206 total yards from the offense, including 43 rushing yards on 20 attempts. The lone bright spot was the pass D, which limited D.J. Uiagalelei to a season-low 99 yards through the air. The tradeoff was that he got to hand off to Clemson backs 38 times for more than 230 yards.

FLORIDA - It pains me to say, but Billy Napier is a home-run hire. The guy has bided his time the last few off-seasons, turning down other Power Five jobs — including several SEC vacancies — for an opportunity at a place like Gainesville, where he’ll be able to exercise the full extent of his recruiting prowess and lessons learned from his former Jedi master, Nick Saban.

VANDERBILT - Let’s puts this abysmal campaign to bed. If the ‘Dores continue to bring up the rear in the East, it sure as hell won’t be for lack of trying, apparently. Vandy will never pony up the athletics bucks needed to close the gap between it and the blue bloods, but investing a combined $300 million through the Vandy United initiative — which earmarks a significant portion towards improving both ends of Vanderbilt Stadium, including a new indoor facility — should imbue a smile on Clark Lea’s face.