Wednesday, April 16, 2014 · 10:14 a.m.

The SEC roundup: Week 4

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Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel (Photo: Billy Weeks)

Welcome to the SEC roundup. Nooga.com will look back, look ahead and rank all the SEC teams each Thursday as they prepare for the upcoming week of SEC action. 

1. Alabama (2-0)

It was a far cry from the dominating defensive performances Alabama has become famous for, but nobody in Tuscaloosa is complaining about the Tide’s 49-42 victory at Texas A&M last Saturday. It was the second straight year Alabama fell behind the Aggies early. It was also the second consecutive dominating performance by A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. But, unlike last year, it was the Tide coming out on top in this one. That’s all that matters to coach Nick Saban at this point.

Last week: Alabama 49, Texas A&M 42

This week: vs. Colorado State

2. LSU (3-0)

After a Week 1 challenge against TCU, the Tigers have cruised past UAB and Kent State. The offense continues to click. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger needed to complete just 13 passes to pile up 264 yards and three touchdowns in a dominating win over Kent State last Saturday. Running back Jeremy Hill, who missed the opener due to suspension, is becoming a bigger part of the offense. He added 117 yards and two touchdowns against Kent State. The Tigers begin SEC play by hosting Auburn next week.

Last week: LSU 45, Kent State 13

This week: vs. Auburn

3. Texas A&M (2-1) 

The Aggies allowed an early 14-0 lead to evaporate against the defending national champs, Alabama. That doesn’t take away from Manziel’s afternoon, though. Last year’s Heisman winner threw for 464 yards, five touchdowns, two interceptions and added 98 yards rushing. Receiver Mike Evans was brilliant as well, hauling in seven passes for 279 yards and a score – an average of just under 40 yards a catch. They’ll have a chance to run the rest of the table and should the Tide slip up twice, they could easily get back into the SEC title conversation. The defense doesn't have to be great, but the Aggies will need to show some improvement there as the season progresses.

Last week: Alabama 49, Texas A&M 42

This week: vs. SMU

4. Georgia (1-1)

The Bulldogs enjoyed a bye last week after opening the season against back-to-back ranked opponents, Clemson and South Carolina. They’ll face North Texas this week before diving into four straight weeks of SEC play. The challenge for coach Mark Richt this week will be keeping his team focused on the Mean Green as opposed to looking ahead to its showdown against LSU the following week.

Last week: BYE

This week: vs. North Texas

5. South Carolina (2-1)

The Gamecocks and Vanderbilt are the only two teams to have played two SEC games to this point. South Carolina has split them, losing to Georgia in Week 2 and knocking off the Commodores in Week 3. The Gamecocks held a commanding 28-0 lead over Vanderbilt, but that didn’t last. The ‘Dores had scratched their way back in the game by early in the fourth quarter. Vandy was driving with a chance to pull the game within one score when USC cornerback Jimmy Legree intercepted a pass that essentially sealed the win for the Gamecocks. The schedule turns in their favor now. They are off this week and they don’t play a team that is currently in the top 25 until facing off against Florida on Nov. 16.

Last week: South Carolina 35, Vanderbilt 25

This week: BYE

6. Ole Miss (3-0)

The Rebels keep on rolling. Texas undoubtedly has issues right now, especially on defense, but Ole Miss exposed the Longhorns even more last week, piling up 28 first downs, 449 yards of offense and, most importantly, 44 points in a win at Texas. Bo Wallace’s arm and feet are both weapons for Ole Miss, while running back Jeff Scott (164 yards vs. Texas) is one of the most underrated players in the league. The young defense continues to improve too. The SEC West powers – Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU – won’t look forward to playing the Rebels this year or any time soon.

Last week: Ole Miss 44, Texas 23

This week: BYE

7. Florida (1-1)

The Gators got a week off to help recover from their Week 2 loss at Miami. Several players, including quarterback Jeff Driskel, have been banged up, but they hope to have virtually everybody back when Tennessee comes to The Swamp this Saturday. Though the Gators have been up and down the last few years, beating Tennessee has been one of the few constants. They have knocked off the Vols eight straight times heading into this weekend’s game. Their defense is likely good enough to carry them to nine straight in the series.

Last week: BYE

This week: vs. Tennessee

8. Vanderbilt (1-2)

The Commodores might not be the most talented team in the league, but they’re tough to get rid of. Just ask South Carolina. Vanderbilt came within a few plays of erasing a four-touchdown lead in its game against the Gamecocks last week before eventually falling 35-25. They have winnable games against Massachusetts and UAB the next two weeks before returning to conference play with an important game against Missouri.

Last week: South Carolina 35, Vanderbilt 25

This week: at Massachusetts

9. Auburn (3-0)

It wasn’t always pretty, but the Tigers got their first SEC win in over a year when they knocked off Mississippi State last Saturday. It’ll take a few years for coach Gus Malzahn to rebuild this squad, but with a soft out-of-conference schedule and winnable SEC games against Tennessee and Arkansas still to come, the Tigers should put together enough wins to return to a bowl this year. They’ll get a huge test at LSU this week in a battle of unbeaten SEC West opponents.

Last week: Auburn 24, Mississippi State 20

This week: at LSU

10. Missouri (2-0)

The Tigers enjoyed a week off last week and now they are preparing to travel to Indiana to take on Big 10 foe Indiana. The Hoosiers are off to a 2-1 start with wins over Bowling Green and Indiana State and a loss to Navy. The Tigers are relatively untested after early-season wins over Murray State and Toledo. After bouts with Indiana and Arkansas State, it will be all SEC the rest of the way for Mizzou.

Last week: BYE

This week: at Indiana

11. Arkansas (3-0)

Surprisingly, the Hogs are one of just four SEC teams with three wins already. However, level of competition has a lot to do with that. Arkansas has feasted on lesser opponents, but this week the Hogs will get a slightly tougher challenge when they travel to Rutgers, a squad that has started the year 2-1. They’ll be looking for some revenge after the Scarlet Knights came to Fayetteville and knocked them off 35-26 last year.

Last week: Arkansas 24, Southern Miss 3

This week: at Rutgers

12. Tennessee (2-1)

The trip to Oregon was every bit as bad, and perhaps worse, than most predicted. The No. 2 Ducks dominated in all three phases on their way to a 59-14 win. It doesn’t get a ton easier for the Vols, who, after their cross-country trip, must travel to Florida this week to face a Gators squad that was off last week. Tennessee hasn’t won in this series since 2004. It doesn’t look like 2013 will be the year that changes.

Last week: Oregon 59, Tennessee 14

This week: at Florida

13. Mississippi State (1-2)

Will coach Dan Mullen end up on the hot seat before too long? Dating back to last year, the Bulldogs have lost seven of their last nine games. They let a winnable contest at Auburn slip through their grasp last week. One positive has been the emergence of quarterback Dak Prescott, who impressed while filling in for the injured Tyler Russell. Prescott may be the long-term solution at that spot. The Bulldogs host Troy this week, a team that came within one score of upsetting them in 2012.

Last week: Auburn 24, Mississippi State 20

This week: vs. Troy

14. Kentucky (1-2)

The Wildcats lost to No. 7 Louisville in Lexington on Saturday, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as many predicted. They hung tight through the first half before the Cardinals snuck away in the second half. Still, that’s a positive step for a Kentucky team looking for any confidence under first-year head coach Mark Stoops. The Wildcats have a week off before beginning a brutal three-week stretch against Florida, South Carolina and Alabama.

Last week: Louisville 27, Kentucky 13

This week: BYE

Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielNooga

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