Sea of Blue SEC Power Rankings: Week 4

What's going on in the West?

No West team currently sports a winning or even .500 record, and the mighty Arkansas Razorbacks -- Kentucky's opponent on Saturday -- currently lead the "also-ran" division of the SEC with a 3-4 mark. The West has been particularly brutal in conference road games, with a mind-blowing 1-18 combined road record.

Supposed national contenders Alabama and LSU are among the worst offenders, underchieving for a third straight week.

The strength of the East division shows this week as we again dip into the SEC Power Rankings for Week 4 (Ending Sunday, Jan. 28).

January 30 SEC Power Rankings
(1) #1, 19-2 (6-0 SEC): It's feeling more and more like the early injuries and illnesses the Florida Gators went through were cause for their stumbles far more than a lack of ability. While the meat of the SEC still awaits, the number one Gators have built an early cushion in the conference. But before they start fitting for rings, tough road games remain, not to mention tilts vs. Vanderbilt and Georgia.
Up Next: Vanderbilt (Home, Wed.), Tennessee (Home, Sat.)
(2) #24 (AP), 15-6 (5-2): A return to the rankings reflects just how well the Vanderbilt Commodores have played in recent weeks. Their reward? A road date with No. 1 Florida and a game with Georgia. Win and suddenly the term "surprise team" has to be retired for "conference contender." Return dates with UK, UT and others are still out there, but for now the 'Dores have put themselves firmly in the NCAA picture.
Up Next: Florida (Road, Wed.), Georgia (H, Sat.)
(3) #24 (ESPN), 16-5, (5-2): With Big Blue Nation hyperventilating, a home rout of rival Tennessee was just what the doctor ordered for the Kentucky Wildcats. While the Cats lost in OT at Georgia last week, the nod here goes to the team with the better overall profile. With an unholy February approaching, there is no wiggle room for UK. A home date vs. Florida on ESPN in two weeks could be a season-changer, in more ways than one.
Up Next: Arkansas (R, Sat.)
(4) NR, 13-6 (5-2): A handful of bounces seperate the Georgia Bulldogs from conference contention or irrelevance. As with much of life, hard work and hustle sure make for better luck. Taking care of business in home games against Kentucky and LSU were boosts for Dennis Felton's program, and help take the sting out of that last second debacle at Bama. The Dawgs hit the road this week, and dropping two would hurt at the wrong time.
Up Next: Tennessee (R, Wed.), Vanderbilt (R, Sat.)
(5) NR, 14-7 (3-4): The Arkansas Razorbacks did the unthinkable on Saturday -- won an SEC road game. Well, an accomplishment for any West team, anyway. A season sweep of the Tide is sweet, indeed, and it helps the 'Backs to the top of the division. Stan Heath got great play from big man Steven Hill, and it proved essential. While they still lack punch on the resume, there are enough good SEC teams to help UA overcome a slow start.
Up Next: Kentucky (H, Sat.)
(6) NR, 13-9 (3-4): Jeff Lebo has his Auburn Tigers on the verge of something special. A blowout loss to Florida shows they have a ways to go, but a rout of even a struggling Alabama is huge. Wins on the road have been hard to come by for West teams, and Auburn is no exception. Frank Tolbert is as entertaining as any guard in the SEC.
Up Next: South Carolina (R, Wed.), Ole Miss (H, Sat.)
(7) NR, 14-7 (2-4): How badly does Bruce Pearl wish he was playing in the West, huh? Absent All-American Chris Lofton, the Tennessee Volunteers dumped a pair of games this week to continue a tailspin. Lofton's status is still unknown, but he's unlikely to be at full strength for some time. Without him, the Orange just don't have enough firepower. Things don't get easier, with a hot Georgia team and No. 1 Florida on the road.
Up Next: Georgia (H, Wed.), Florida (R, Sat.)
(8) #19 (ESPN)/20 (AP), 15-5 (2-4): Upperclassmen with talent, youngsters with skills, national hype and all they got is this? Things are ugly for the Alabama Crimson Tide right now. Only a dicey Ronald Steele bucket keeps the Tide from a three-loss streak. They are running out of time with February on deck, and there's no reason for this team to be as bad as it currently is. The question arises: Does Nick Saban do hoops?
Up Next: LSU (R, Wed.), South Carolina (H, Sat.)
(9) #NR, 13-7 (2-4): So what exactly do the LSU Tigers have that South Carolina or Auburn does not? Glen Davis is the only logical answer. The Tigers can defend, they have size and athletic talent. But they just can't score points. Davis was outstanding vs. Georgia, but his teammates continue to fold. Teams continue to key on Davis, who tires noticeably late in games. A make-or-break home game this week vs. Bama.
Up Next: Alabama (H, Wed.), Mississippi St. (R, Sat.)
(10) NR, 12-7 (2-4): It may have taken Tre' Kelley willing his team to victory on a bum leg, but the South Carolina Gamecocks put together an impressive week. Back-to-back wins, including a gutsy one at Starkville, means the 'Cocks are suddenly a team you don't want to play. Brandon Wallace showed the talent we all knew he had, and the supporting cast came through. For his heroics, Kelley was deservedly named SEC Player of the Week.
Up Next: Arkansas (H, Tue.), Mississippi St. (R, Sat.)
(11) NR, 11-8 (2-4): Turning the corner has been tough for the young teams of the SEC West. Days after a moral victory vs. mighty Florida, the Mississippi St. Bulldogs laid an egg at home against USC. Rick Stansbury has talent, but lacks will in his frontcourt. Jamont Gordon is versatile and effective, he is not a go-to scorer because of his size. Defense can win you games, but not if you cannot muster enough offense at crunch time.
Up Next: Ole Miss (R, Tue.), LSU (H, Sat.)
(12) NR, 13-8 (2-5): I almost hate to slot the scrappy Ole Miss Rebels here, since they did pick up a win over Tennessee last week. But the Vols are teetering on collapse, and the win still leaves the Rebs in the conference cellar. Andy Kennedy has his guys playing hard, and Ole Miss will pick off some better team in the next few weeks. A rivalry game on national TV this week could be a chance to prove naysayers like me wrong.
Up Next: Tennessee (H, Wed.), Vanderbilt (R, Sat.)
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