published Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

SEC rankings, rantings for Oct. 17

1. Alabama

After losing four defensive players in the first 35 picks of last April's NFL draft, the Alabama defense has not missed a beat. Or a beatdown. Linebacker LaMichael Fanning unloaded a Ric Flair-level suplex in the Tide's whipping of Missouri. Fanning and Tide coach Nick Saban apologized for the move. If he was still alive, Randy "Macho Man" Savage would have said "Ohhh yeah."

Saturday: at Tennessee, 7 (ESPN)

2. Florida

When asked about the legacy cast by former Gators great Steve Spurrier, who will coach South Carolina against Florida on Saturday, quarterback Jeff Driskel knows his UF history. Driskel said he is well aware of Spurrier's legacy and told the Orlando Sentinel: "I drive by his statue every day."

Saturday: vs. South Carolina, 3:30 (CBS)

3. LSU

The Tigers head to College Station to face Texas A&M, and at least one LSU defender is excited to face Aggies freshman quarterback sensation Johnny Manziel. "I love quarterbacks that try to get out of the pocket, because they let their guard down," LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo said. Pssst, Johnny, don't let your guard down; Mingo is more than a pawn in the game of life.

Saturday: at Texas A&M, noon (ESPN)

4. South Carolina

Sophomore Jadeveon Clowney is the league's best defensive player. That is all.

Saturday: at Florida, 3:30 (CBS)

5. Georgia

Anyone else think Georgia may show up in Lexington in a foul mood Saturday night? After getting pounded by South Carolina, the Bulldogs have had an off week to think about it. Suddenly that 28-point line doesn't seem high.

Saturday: at Kentucky, 7 (FSS)

6. texas A&M

The legend of redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny "Football" Manziel continues to grow. Picture this: Manziel leads the SEC in rushing and total yards, is among the pass ratings leaders and is the runaway leader for player of the year in the SEC. Yes, a kid who did not earn the starting job until August has been the best player in a league that has six of the 12 best teams in the country. Johhny Football indeed.

Saturday: vs. LSU, noon (ESPN)

7. Mississippi State

Want a not-so-hidden stat behind the Bulldogs' 6-0 start? MSU leads the nation in turnover margin at plus-15 after two fumbles were changed to on-side kick recoveries in recent weeks.

Saturday: vs. MTSU, 7 (ESPN2)

8. Tennessee

Despite being the starter in parts of each of his three years in Knoxville, this will be junior quarterback Tyler Bray's first start against Alabama. Lamichael Fanning may have a couple of moves he wants to show him.

Saturday: vs. Alabama, 7 (ESPN)

9. Ole Miss

The Rebels ended the SEC's longest conference losing streak at 16 by beating hapless Auburn 41-20 Saturday. The Rebels pulled away with a 17-0 fourth quarter for their first league win since 2010.

Saturday: off

10. Arkansas

That was a little more like it. Tyler Wilson looked good and the Hogs thumped Kentucky last week. The dumpster fire that was September is gone and Arkansas has bowl hopes again.

Saturday: off

11. Vanderbilt

Strength vs. weakness: Vandy has one of the SEC's best pass defenses; Auburn has the SEC's worst pass offense.

Saturday: vs. Auburn, 12:21 (WDSI)

12. Missouri

Injuries and frustration are mounting in Columbia, but at least one of those will be alleviated a bit this week. After a bye this weekend, the Tigers are expecting starting quarterback James Franklin back for the Oct. 27 game against Kentucky.

Saturday: Off

13. Auburn

The math for Gene Chizik is unpleasant. In his three-plus years as the Tigers head coach, he's 31-15, which actually is pretty good. But since going 14-0 and winning the 2010 BCS title with Cam Newton at quarterback, the Tigers are 9-10. Auburn heads to Vandy this week at 1-5, and if the Tigers stumble in Nashville, an 0-8 league mark is a very likely possibility. The last time the Tigers were blanked in SEC play was 1980 in Doug Barfield's final year. When the Tigers were 0-6.

Saturday: at Vandy, 12:21 (WDSI)

14. Kentucky

After rain stopped the 49-7 loss at Arkansas, maybe UK's hoops fans are right and God does favor the Wildcats.

Saturday: vs. Georgia, 7 (FSS)

about Jay Greeson...

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 ...

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