Friday, October 24, 2014 · 7:19 a.m.

The SEC roundup: Week 5

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Missouri quarterback James Franklin (Photo: Missouri Athletics)

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 (3-0)

Despite a 3-0 start and a win over Texas A&M, it still feels like this Alabama team can reach another level. Defense and the run game – two Nick Saban specialties – haven’t quite been up to their normal standards yet. The Tide are only averaging 132 yards per game on the ground, good for 90th nationally. Though extremely tough, they do seem somewhat beatable as well moving forward. However, the schedule turns in their favor. This weekend’s matchup against Ole Miss is one of just two currently-ranked teams that remain on the slate for the Tide.

Last week: Alabama 49, Texas A&M 42

This week: vs. Colorado State

2. LSU (4-0)

The Tigers have been one of the most impressive teams in the league thus far. It wasn’t always pretty, but they’ll gladly take their two-touchdown win over Auburn last weekend, a victory that propelled them to a perfect 4-0 start. The true test comes this weekend with a trip to Georgia. It’s a game the Tigers need to win if they hope to contend in the SEC. It’ll also be a matchup of two of the league’s best quarterbacks, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger and Georgia’s Aaron Murray.

Last week: LSU 35, Auburn 21

This week: at Georgia

3. Texas A&M (3-1) 

It was another “normal” performance for quarterback Johnny Manziel, who threw for 244 yards and a touchdown and added 102 yards and two more scores on the ground in A&M’s blowout win over SMU. Arkansas’ defense has improved thus far this season, but the Razorbacks haven’t seen anything like Manziel yet. The Aggies should have no problem getting their first SEC win this weekend.

Last week: Texas A&M 42, SMU 13

This week: @ Arkansas

4. Georgia (2-1)

The Bulldogs struggled against North Texas early, but found a way to put away the Mean Green by the fourth quarter. It’s understandable if they slightly overlooked them with LSU coming to town this week. It should be one of the best games in the nation when the Tigers and Bulldogs square off. Will Georgia be able to stop LSU’s newfound offensive proficiency? If the Bulldogs can, expect them to have a good shot at knocking off the Tigers in Athens.

Last week: Georgia 45, North Texas 21

This week: vs. LSU

5. South Carolina (2-1)

After a bye, the Gamecocks find themselves in the somewhat unusual position of travelling to Central Florida, an American Athletic Conference team. The Knights are off to a fast start after knocking off Akron, Florida International and Penn State in their first three games. Despite the early-season success for UCF, this should be a relatively comfortable win for the Gamecocks, who will be led by running back Mike Davis, quarterback Connor Shaw and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

Last week: BYE

This week: at Central Florida

6. Ole Miss (3-0)

It’s been a great start to the season for the Rebels, who have knocked off Vanderbilt and Texas on the road. The degree of difficulty increases significantly this week, though, with a trip to Alabama on the horizon. The Rebels played the Tide tough enough last year (lost 33-14) that they should have some confidence going into this matchup. The Tide gave up 42 points in a win over Texas A&M two weeks ago, so there’s at least some evidence that teams can move the ball and score on them.

Last week: BYE

This week: at Alabama

7. Florida (2-1)

It’s been a tough week for the Gators. Yes, they beat rival Tennessee, but it was a costly win. Quarterback Jeff Driskel (ankle) was lost for the year. To make matters worse, star defensive lineman Dominique Easley (knee) went down in practice this week and is expected to be out all season as well. The Gators should be able to get past Kentucky and Arkansas in the next couple of weeks, but their chances of contending in the SEC are slipping.

Last week: Florida 31, Tennessee 17

This week: at Kentucky

8. Vanderbilt (2-2)

The Commodores received few style points for their sloppy win at Massachusetts. The now 0-4 Minutemen kept the game within one score into the fourth quarter before a fantastic 11-yard catch and run by Vandy wide receiver Jordan Matthews gave the ‘Dores some breathing room late. They host UAB this week and will hope to straighten out some of their issues before continuing in SEC play.

Last week: Vanderbilt 24, UMass 7

This week: vs. UAB

9. Missouri (3-0)

Missouri played and beat its first BCS-conference opponent last week, Indiana. A 49-yard pick-6 from defensive end Kony Ealy certainly helped, but the offense had a good night itself. Quarterback James Franklin accounted for over 400 yards of total offense and three touchdowns. A total of four players had 10 carries or more, leading to a total of 280 yards rushing and three scores on the ground. The Tigers should move to 4-0 after a contest with Arkansas State this week. It’s all SEC after that, however.

Last week: Missouri 45, Indiana 28

This week: vs. Arkansas State

10. Auburn (3-1)

It was LSU that came out on top over Auburn in the battle of the Tigers in a rain-soaked contest. Still, the Auburn Tigers can feel pretty good about their effort. They were close to making it a one-touchdown game late before being stopped just short of the end zone. The offense is progressing, but fixing the defense remains a work-in-progress for the new coaching staff on The Plains. Auburn will enjoy a week off before hosting Ole Miss the following week.

Last week: LSU 35, Auburn 21

This week: BYE

11. Arkansas (3-1)

Rutgers outscored the Razorbacks 14-0 in the fourth quarter to complete a come-from-behind win over previously unbeaten Arkansas. Normally a prolific rushing team, the Hogs only managed 101 yards on the ground in Saturday’s loss. Quarterback Brandon Allen missed the game with an injured shoulder. He’s questionable for this week’s tilt against the Aggies, but it probably won’t matter who’s behind center with Texas A&M’s high-powered offensive attack coming to town.

Last week: Rutgers 28, Arkansas 24

This week: vs. Texas A&M

12. Mississippi State (2-2)

The Bulldogs got back in the win column with an easy triumph over Troy last week. Quarterback Dak Prescott continues to impress. The sophomore led the team in passing (233 yards) and was second in rushing (53 yards). He also accounted for four touchdowns – two rushing, one throwing and even one receiving. Oddly enough, the Bulldogs had two players – Prescott and receiver Jameon Lewis – both score via run, pass and reception against Troy.

Last week: Mississippi State 62, Troy 7

This week: BYE

13. Tennessee (2-2)

Tennessee had opportunities to make it interesting in The Swamp last week, but the Vols couldn’t capitalize on the Gators’ sloppy play. Instead, they turned it over six times themselves and couldn’t hold an early lead against the favored Gators. Tennessee will return to former starting quarterback Justin Worley after Nathan Peterman struggled and broke his hand in his first career start last week. They can’t take South Alabama lightly, but, if they play up to their potential, they should get back in the win column this week.

Last week: Florida 31, Tennessee 17

This week: vs. South Alabama

14. Kentucky (1-2)

The Wildcats got a week off to prepare for their brutal upcoming stretch that includes games against Florida, South Carolina and Alabama – all teams currently in the top 20. They’ll just hope to survive that stretch before the schedule lightens up a little later in the year. There's a slight chance they can hang with the beat-up Gators, but don't expect too much of a game.

Last week: BYE

This week: vs. Florida

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

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