1. ALABAMA (Last week: No. 1)
Alabama has pounded the good (No. 18 Penn State) and the bad (San Jose State) in the first two weeks. Now it’s time for the ugly: The Tide have been the most impressive team in the league without arguably their best offensive and defensive players. Well, running back Mark Ingram and defensive lineman Marcell Darues are expected to make their returns this week.
SATURDAY: at Duke, 3:30, ABC
2. FLORIDA (Last week: No. 2)
“That’s one of the most difficult environments in the country to play in,” Florida coach Urban Meyer told reporters Monday. “We’re going to have a bunch of new players get on that plane and head to Knoxville.” Coach-speak? Maybe. But the Gators are certainly young — 27 freshmen (11 true, 16 redshirts) have played, and 29 of the 69 players who have played in the first two games are freshmen or sophomores.
SATURDAY: at Tennessee, 3:30, CBS
3. SOUTH CAROLINA (Last week: No. 5)
“I see them as a contender. Right now, they might be the best team in the East,” former Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer said during a teleconference with reporters earlier this week. “When [Steve Spurrier] has a great back, they’re hard to beat.” That great back would be freshman Marcus Lattimore, who carried 37 times for more than 180 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win over Georgia.
SATURDAY: vs. Furman, 7, PPV
4. AUBURN (Last week: No. 4)
ESPN’s pregame show, “College GameDay,” will be in Auburn on Saturday for the first time since the Tigers’ game against LSU in September 2008.
SATURDAY: vs. Clemson, 7, ESPN
5. ARKANSAS (Last week: No. 6)
Ah, cupcakes. They sure are delicious. The Razorbacks have some gaudy numbers — fifth nationally at 361.5 passing yards and fourth nationally allowing 5.0 points per game — in home blowouts against Louisiana-Monroe and Tennessee Tech. If those numbers are anywhere close to that lofty status this time next week, we’ll be impressed — and it will also mean an 0-2 SEC start for the Georgia Bulldogs, who host the Hogs on Saturday.
SATURDAY: at Georgia, noon, ESPN
6. LSU (Last week: No. 8)
Jordan Jefferson’s line against Vandy — 8-of-20 for 96 yards and an interception — drew less than praise from coach Les Miles: “Our quarterback play — we have to get better. I think everybody knows that,” Miles said. “I think Jordan Jefferson has run this team and can run this team, and whatever we can do to make him more aggressive playing at quarterback for us is what we’re going to do.”
SATURDAY: vs. Mississippi State, 7, ESPNU
7. GEORGIA (Last week: No. 3)
Bobby Bowden told the AJC on Monday that “I don’t know of any coach in the country that does a better job of trying to keep his boys out of trouble than Mark [Richt].” Considering the recent troubles of the Bulldogs off the field — and Bobby’s long and checkered history — I’m kind of at loss for words. Let’s just move on.
SATURDAY: vs. Arkansas, noon, ESPN
8. KENTUCKY (Last week: No. 10)
Randall Cobb may be the Rankings and Rantings’ favorite player. He’s certainly the most versatile. Two games in, Cobb has run for, passed for, caught and returned a punt for touchdowns. SATURDAY: vs. Akron, 7, FSS
9. Mississippi State (Last week: No.7)
LSU — MSU’s opponent Saturday — is thinking about a two-quarterback system. The Bulldogs are looking to refine their two-QB set when they invade Death Valley. “They have a guy (Chris Relf) that’s a runner and a passer, and then they have a really, pretty strong passer (Tyler Russell), and they use the duality to benefit their offense,” LSU coach Les Miles told the AP on Monday. “It seems to be working.”
SATURDAY: at LSU, 7, ESPNU
10. TENNESSEE (Last week: No. 9)
A day after coach Derek Dooley questioned the Vols’ fight, questions about the Vols’ summer fight were resolved. I believe that’s called irony, but maybe not.
SATURDAY: vs. Florida, 3:30, CBS
11. OLE MISS (Last week: No. 12)
Injuries are mounting for the Rebels’ offensive line. “I think there is going to be a bit of a learning curve when you break in someone brand new,” coach Houston Nutt said this week. “Their eyes were wide open... That was the first time Josh Tatum had ever played outside of Friday night ball. Now that [Tatum] is out, our brand new starters will be Michael Brown, Jared Duke or Patrick Junen.” Duke is a freshman who this time last year was at Walker Valley High School.
SATURDAY: vs. Vandy, 12:21, WDSI
12. VANDERBILT (Last week: No. 11)
New coach, same Commodores — the week two edition. Robbie Caldwell is 0-1 in SEC games, but in the last 10 league games, Vandy has scored 10 points or fewer eight times. Yuck. Yes, quarterback Larry Smith has been less than good, but struggles that mighty can not be the responsiblity of one player. That’s a team yuckiness right there.
SATURDAY: at Ole Miss, 12:21, WDSI
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...