Posted by Jerry Hinnen
This week's polls have been released. Here's how the SEC fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.
You start the week as a unanimous No. 1, you beat a conference opponent (such as Ole Miss is these days) 52-3, you finish the week a unanimous No. 1.
We noted last week that even if Oklahoma State lost to Oklahoma in Week 13, the Tide had enough of a cushion over the Sooners and Oregon that they'd likely ascend to the No. 2 slot in both polls no matter how impressive OU or UO might be. So what hapens when the Cowboys, Sooners, and Ducks all lose? Not only do the Tide move up to No. 2, they have a 24-point head-to-head win over the No. 3 team and the teams ranked No. 4 in either poll (Stanford in the AP, Virginia Tech in the Coaches) both have 20-point losses at home.
In other words: barring a loss to Auburn this week, the Crimson Tde are as safe at No. 2 as LSU is at No. 1.
Let's be honest: with all due respect to the Hogs, the 2011 season isn't always as much about how you play as who you play. Arkansas's faced only two opponents all season ranked in the current polls, and one of those opponents (the aforementioned Tide) smashed the Razorbacks 38-14. Is one home victory over a top-25 caliber team all season really enough to justify the team's highest ranking since 1978? This year, it is; Stanford and Virginia Tech's schedules aren't any better (both are also sporting 1-1 records vs. currently ranked teams), and Oklahoma State's lone loss is so inexplicable there's no benefit of the doubt there, either.
It's weird to say a team with Arkansas's resume deserves to be the No. 3 team in the nation, but ... Arkansas deserves to be the No. 3 team in the nation.
The Bulldogs move up after ... wait, sorry, our mistake:
Just got a little carried away there. Anyways: the Bulldogs move up one spot in the Coaches after Clemson's tumble, but hold steady in the AP after beging leapfrogged by USC. Despite Georgia's freshly-minted SEC East title, the Trojans deserve the love; despite the gaudy 9-2 overall record, the Bulldogs still have yet to beat a team ranked in the current top 25 (they're 0-2 in such games). As we've said for the past couple of weeks, East crown or not, we're still not sure why the AP continues to rank Georgia over a South Carolina team that has the same record and beat the Dawgs head-to-head on Georgia's own field.
14/13. SOUTH CAROLINA
As with Georgia, the Gamecocks get a Clemson-based one-spot bump in the Coaches (where USC is ineligible) but stay put in the AP. We think Kansas State deserves to move up a few notches for their outstanding road record, but otherwise, 14th/13th is about right for the Gamecocks.
And once again, those are the only five SEC teams in the poll, with Auburn in the first three of the "also receiving votes." All four of the Tigers' losses have come on the road to top 20 teams -- the Tigers have played a full quarter of the top 20 on the road, collecting a win at Carolina to go with the four defeats -- but no four-loss team makes the polls.