Sea of Blue SEC Power Rankings: Week 3

If there were any illusions freshmen around the SEC had that games in the conference were just another game, those were surely shattered this week, as mild upsets and last second heroics mashed together the SEC West and tightened things up in the East as well.

Vanderbilt gave its NCAA hopes a huge boost, while an ankle injury damaged Tennessee's. The week ahead should be more of the same, with road tests for Kentucky, Florida and LSU, plus a revenge game for Bama.

The balance of power swings this week as we examine the SEC Power Rankings for Week 3 (Ending Sunday, Jan. 21).

January 23 SEC Power Rankings
(1) #1, 17-2 (4-0 SEC): It wasn't exactly how they'd have drawn it up, but thanks to a big night from Joakim Noah (24 points), the Florida Gators held off a second-half charge from a determined Ole Miss. The champs have a pair of winnable games this week, though don't be that surprised if a game Miss. St. amps up the defense with a chance for a statement game. Time for that hype to kick into action.
Up Next: Miss. St. (Road, Wed.), Auburn (Road, Sat.)
(2) #25, 15-4, (4-1): Riding high on an 11-game win streak, the Kentucky Wildcats had the rug pulled out from under them by a fiesty, good shooting veteran Vanderbilt. Things don't get easier in the coming week as the Cats try to shake off their first conference and home loss and regroup. Fans hope a powerful win earlier in the week was the real UK, not the uninspired group vs. Vandy.
Up Next: Georgia (R, Wed.), Tennessee (Home, Sun.)
(3) NR, 13-6 (3-2): Quick, name the only SEC team that won two games this past week. If you said Vanderbilt you get a shiny penny. Shaking off the road woes that had plagued it in losses at Georgia and Auburn, the 'Dores now own wins over Bama, Tennessee and Kentucky. This slot might seem too high, but who else can claim the early resume Vanderbilt can?
Up Next: LSU (R, Wed.), Ole Miss (H, Sat.)
(4) NR, 11-6 (3-2): Only a late miracle finish and some referee shenanigans keep Georgia Bulldogs from a dominant conference start. Ron Steele's bucket at the buzzer hurt, but UGA gets another shot at the league's marquee teams when Kentucky and LSU visit. Despite the narrow road loss, a road win at Arkansas earlier in the week puts the Dawgs above Bama, for now.
Up Next: Kentucky (H, Wed.), LSU (H, Sun.)
(5) #12, 15-3 (1-1): Frankly, the Crimson Tide are gasping for air. Maybe Steele's miracle, capping a furious comeback, will awaken Alabama from their slumber. A rout at the hands of Vandy is ugly, even if the 'Dores are improved. Still, at break even and now can avenge their other conference defeat when the Razorbacks come calling, just don't sleep on the Auburn Tigers.
Up Next: Auburn (R, Tue.), Arkansas (H, Sat.)
(6) #21, 13-5 (2-2): Unimpressively, the LSU Tigers are hanging in there. While a narrow home win over a miserable Ole Miss is not much, it's a whole lot better than a 20-point blowout loss on national TV (Arkansas). Simply put, Glen Davis is getting no help, especially from much ballyhoo'd Marquette transfer Dameon Mason, who is MIA. A pair of tough games this week bode poorly.
Up Next: Vandy (H, Wed.), Georgia (R, Sun.)
(7) NR, 13-6 (2-3): No West team has won on the road in the conference, a staggering note. The Arkansas Razorbacks try to undo that this week and make up some of the ground they lost early on. Only a desperation shot from Georgia's center kept the 'Backs from a perfect week, and a rout of LSU means UA can now point to a pair of wins over ranked foes.
Up Next: South Carolina (R, Wed.), Alabama (R, Sat.)
(8) NR, 14-5 (2-2): A loss to Auburn wasn't half as big as the loss the Tennessee Volunteers suffered in a win over South Carolina. Chris Lofton -- the SEC's and team's leading scorer -- will sit for at least a week after a nasty ankle sprain. Three losses in four games only add to the pressure facing new "it" coach Bruce Pearl. We'll find out what he's made of in a pair of road games.
Up Next: Ole Miss (R, Wed.), Kentucky (R, Sat.)
(9) NR, 11-6 (2-2): The Bulldogs had only one game this week, but they made it count, pasting visiting Auburn. The defense has been holding MSU afloat while the offense waits for the kids to grow up. The Delk twins are starting to find their legs, and an SEC power comes calling this week. The SEC West is up for grabs, and a talented, efficient Bulldogs could make a push.
Up Next: Florida (H, Sat.), South Carolina (H, Sat.)
(10) NR, 12-8 (2-3): Home is where the wins are for the Auburn Tigers. After taking down unsuspecting Tennessee, the Tigers couldn't steal one in Starkville. Things get considerably harder this week, with a pair of ranked SEC foes. The Tigers have pluck, just no muscle to speak of.
Up Next: Alabama (H, Wed.), Florida (H, Sat.)
(11) NR, 12-7 (1-2): The Ole Miss Rebels are scrappy, if nothing else. Hanging in there with LSU and Florida on the road was nice, but it's still a couple more L's. Head coach Andy Kennedy is gaining a foothold and has to hope his young guys can start to learn how to finish a game, though the comeback at Gainsville was a good start. A reeling and gimpy Vols squad could be ripe for the picking.
Up Next: Tennessee (H, Wed.), Vanderbilt (R, Sat.)
(12) NR, 10-7 (0-4): It's beginning to get hot in Dave Odom's seat. The South Carolina Gamecocks coach suffered back-to-back historic home blowouts before coming up empty in a tussle at UT. The truth is that the 'Cocks are in moral victory mode awfully early, and with little help in sight. Road wins are hard to come by, but at this point, any win would be a huge help to the defending NIT champions.
Up Next: Arkansas (H, Tue.), Mississippi St. (R, Sat.)
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