Wednesday, April 23, 2014 · 10:02 p.m.

The SEC Roundup: Week 9

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South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. (Photo: David Johnston)

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 (7-0, 4-0 SEC)

While madness broke out everywhere else in the SEC, Alabama remains steady at No. 1 after dismantling Arkansas by a final of 52-0. Since the Tide’s 49-42 shootout win over Texas A&M in Week 3, Alabama has given up just 16 total points in the last five games. A confident Tennessee team should be more of a test than Alabama’s seen the past few weeks, but, as long it doesn’t get caught peeking ahead to LSU next week, Alabama should win its seventh straight over the Vols.

Last week: Alabama 52, Arkansas 0

This week: vs. Tennessee

2. Missouri (7-0, 3-0)

The Tigers have moved from near the bottom to the middle and now find themselves near the top of the SEC after their 7-0 start. They have gained more and more believers with each SEC win. The most recent, a 36-17 win over Florida, puts Missouri in the driver’s seat in the SEC East. Some might point to the fact that Florida has suffered a lot of injuries this year, but Mizzou was also playing with backup quarterback Maty Mauk, who filled in admirably for the injured James Franklin, with 295 passing yards and two touchdowns – one throwing and one rushing. The Tigers now turn their attention to a two-game home stand against South Carolina and Tennessee. Win both of those and the SEC East will be virtually clinched.

Last week: Missouri 36, Florida 17

This week: vs.  South Carolina

3. Auburn (6-1, 3-1)

These Tigers have also jumped up from the back of the SEC to near the front. First-year head coach Gus Malzahn has done a fantastic job rejuvenating a squad that won just three games in 2012. They had a huge statement win at Texas A&M on Saturday. The biggest key to their success? Clearly the run game – which leads the SEC with an astounding average of over 300 yards per contest. The Tigers don’t play another currently ranked team until squaring off with Alabama in the season finale on Nov. 30.

Last week: Auburn 45, Texas A&M 41

This week: vs. Florida Atlantic

4. LSU (6-2, 3-2)

LSU dug itself into a pretty deep hole in the SEC West after falling to underdog Ole Miss on Saturday. It’s certainly not a horrible loss – Ole Miss is a decent squad that was playing at home – but if LSU had championship aspirations this season, they were all but lost on Saturday. Still, the Tigers have a chance to redeem themselves soon. They get SoCon opponent Furman this week before taking on Alabama and Texas A&M in the next two games.

Last week: Ole Miss 27, LSU 24

This week: vs. Furman

5. Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2) 

Like LSU, the Aggies might’ve played themselves out of championship consideration on Saturday after a heartbreaking loss to Auburn. Quarterback Johnny Manziel left the game briefly with an injured shoulder, but returned late to try and rally the Aggies to the last-second win. He was eventually sacked on fourth down before he could get a final heave to the end zone. The defense has been disappointing for A&M. It has now given up at least 33 points in the past three conference games and is ranked 104th nationally with an average of 33.9 points given up per contest. The Aggies are hoping Manziel will be close to 100 percent when Vanderbilt, a team that upset Georgia last week, comes to town this week.

Last week: Auburn 45, Texas A&M 41

This week: vs. Vanderbilt

6. Ole Miss (4-3, 2-3)

Its record isn’t great, but Ole Miss has faced as tough of a schedule as anybody. A three-game losing streak to Alabama, Auburn and Texas A&M could’ve broken this young squad, but the Rebels fought back and pulled out an impressive win over LSU last week. The schedule gets considerably easier now. The Rebels should be the heavy favorite in every game for the rest of the season with the exception of Missouri on Nov. 23. An eight-win season is looking very possible for coach Hugh Freeze in just his second year in Oxford.

Last week: Ole Miss 27, LSU 24

This week: vs. Idaho

7. Georgia (4-3, 3-2)

Even with a rash of injuries, it seemed that Georgia would be able to travel to Nashville and pull out a win over a struggling Vanderbilt squad. That wasn’t the case. Vanderbilt bounced back and played one of its best game of the year, while Georgia’s defense, now ranked 100th nationally in scoring D, couldn’t get enough stops. Though the past two weeks have been particularly frustrating for the Bulldogs, this team still has some upside. Running back Todd Gurley and receiver Michael Bennett are both on track to return from injury after the bye week against Florida. They are likely out of SEC contention now, but getting to eight wins is still very feasible.

Last week: Vanderbilt 31, Georgia 27

This week: BYE

8. Florida (4-3, 3-2)

Injuries have piled up and recently, so have the losses. The Gators were in good position to make a move in the SEC East with a win over Missouri last week, but even with backup quarterback Maty Mauk making his first collegiate start for Mizzou, it was all Tigers. The good news for Florida is that its three losses have come to teams with a combined two losses. The bad news is that its injured players aren’t coming back and there are still plenty of challenging games against the likes of Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State.

Last week: Missouri 36, Florida 17

This week: BYE

Tennessee defensive end Marlon Walls. (Photo: David Johnston)

9. Tennessee (4-3, 1-2)

There was a giant exhale on Rocky Top after the Vols finally knocked off a ranked team, ending a 19-game skid against AP Top 25 opponents. The Vols are clearly playing better. An overtime loss to Georgia followed by the win against South Carolina has given the team confidence and coach Butch Jones some credibility. That will all be tested at the highest level when the Vols travel to Alabama this weekend. Obviously coaches and players hate talking about moral victories, but staying within a couple scores of the Tide this weekend could go a ways in keeping UT’s newfound confidence high.

Last week: Tennessee 23, South Carolina 21

This week: at Alabama

10. South Carolina (5-2, 3-2)

This team is difficult to figure out. After a loss and three sloppy wins, the Gamecocks played their best game of the year two weeks ago at Arkansas. They followed that up with a 23-21 loss to Tennessee last week – a team that hadn’t defeated a ranked opponent since 2009. Coach Steve Spurrier will need to come up with the solution to finding consistency in a hurry with a trip to Missouri up next. South Carolina will likely be without starting quarterback Connor Shaw against the Tigers after he injured his knee at Tennessee.

Last week: Tennessee 23, South Carolina 21

This week: at Missouri

11. Vanderbilt (4-3, 1-3)

Just when it looked like the Commodores would fall into obscurity in the SEC East, they scraped out a win against Georgia on Saturday. There was some collateral damage with quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels leaving the game with an injury. He’s questionable this week, so the ‘Dores may have to turn to redshirt freshman quarterback Patton Robinette, who has played sparingly. Vanderbilt will prove if the win over Georgia was a sign of things to come or a fluke with contests against Texas A&M and Florida next on the schedule.

Last week: Vanderbilt 31, Georgia 27

This week: at Texas A&M

12. Mississippi State (3-3, 0-2)

The Bulldogs are coming off of a bye after barely escaping in a 21-20 win over Bowling Green a couple weeks ago. They’ll return to action on Thursday night against Kentucky, one of the other two squads in the SEC without a conference win thus far. There might not be too much on the line in that matchup, but it’s a win both programs will desperately be looking for. If MSU has any hope of making a bowl, it’s a game it’ll likely need to win.

Last week: BYE

This week: vs. Kentucky (Thursday night)

13. Arkansas (3-5, 0-4)

It’s turned ugly in Fayetteville over the past few weeks. Arkansas’ three-game winning streak to open the season is a distant memory now that reality of life in the SEC has set in. The Hogs have lost five straight, with the last two losses to South Carolina and Alabama coming by a combined total of 104-7. It doesn’t get much easier either with Auburn, Ole Miss and LSU among the teams left on the schedule for first-year coach Bret Bielema. At least they have a bye this week to regroup after the past two weeks.

Last week: Alabama 52, Arkansas 0

This week: BYE

14. Kentucky (1-5, 0-3)

Also coming off a bye, Kentucky travels to Starkville on Thursday night with what could be its best chance of the season to get an SEC win. It’s been a brutal road for the Wildcats thus far this season, but at least it should be a touch easier down the stretch. They should have at least a shot against the Bulldogs and the following week they get a visit from Alabama State, an FCS opponent.

Last week: BYE

This week: at Mississippi State (Thursday night)

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

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