As predicted, the conference season always shakes up preconceived notions of who is further along the road to March. Teams with more to prove scrap and claw, while some of the haves take the have-nots for granted.
Arkansas' rout of top-10 Alabama was the biggest surprise, while Georgia, Mississippi State and Ole Miss all fell short after spirited efforts. LSU took care of business out of conference, thought the Gamecocks of South Carolina did not.
This week offers some outstanding matchups, including Florida-Arkansas and LSU-Bama on Tuesday. Kentucky continues its more favorable early schedule, while Georgia tries to avoid digging a deeper hole.
With warts and all, here are the SEC Power Rankings for Week 1 (Ending Sunday, Jan. 7).
|January 8 SEC Power Rankings|
|(1) #2, 14-2 (1-0 SEC): Things got dicey for the Florida Gators in the first half of their SEc opener against Georgia. But true to form -- and the reason they are No. 1 until proven otherwise in the SoB SEC Rankings -- is the surge they used in the second half to bury the Bulldogs. Corey Brewer was outstanding in both games this week for the powerful, experienced Gators. Up Next: Arkansas (Home, Tue.), South Carolina (Road, Sat.)|
|(2) #16, 13-2 (1-0): Chris Lofton's 21 points helped Tennessee fend off Mississipppi St. at home, and kept the Vols at the No. 2 spot in our Power Rankings. Duke Crews added 18 for UT, who cannot overlook a pesky Vanderbilt at Memorial Gym on Wed. looking forward to a huge game against Ohio St. in Columbus. Up Next: Vandy (R, Wed.), Ohio St. (R, Sat.)|
|(3) NR, 12-3, (1-0): Joe Crawford snapped a string of subpar outings with 23 points as Kentucky topped Ole Miss in Oxford, not as easy a place to play as you might think. The SEC schedule is kind to the Wildcats over the next few weeks, a perfect opportunity to get more playing time for the key freshmen. Up Next: Auburn (H, Wed.), Miss. St. (H, Sat.)|
|(4) NR, 12-3 (1-0): What did I tell you? Arkansas has athletes, shooters and moxie, despite the loss of some key players over the summer. Alabama was not prepared for the Razorbacks, and got mauled. Stan Heath's bunch have shown flashes before, so building off this win will be key. Things don't get easier, with a game with the defending champs on the road immediately. Up Next: Florida (R, Tue.), Ole Miss (R, Sat.)|
|(5) #13, 11-3 (0-0): Normally, a win over UConn might be enough to push the Tigers up the Rankings, but in addition to Arkansas' impressive win, we doubt whether UConn is ready for prime-time. Still, a ranked opponent plus an ESPN crew in town were lots to deal with. The SEC opener is no cupcake -- a pissed-off Bama. Up Next: Alabama (R, Tue.), Auburn (H, Sat.)|
|(6) #14, 13-2 (0-1): It didn't take long for the banged-up, untested Crimson Tide to take a fall. Underestimating a good Arkansas team was a bad idea, as Bama was hardly ever in that game. None of the team's big three (Davidson, Steele, Hendrix) showed up to play. Luckily (or unluckily), the Tide get a chance to redeem themselves. Up Next: LSU (H, Tue.)|
|(7) NR, 11-5 (1-0): I'm not sold that Auburn is much better than the other teams down this list, but they did something none of the others did: win their SEC opener. The Tigers are in need of positive momentum, and a win over Vandy helps. Things get tougher this week, with two powerhouses on the road. Up Next: Kentucky (R, Wed.), LSU (R, Sat.)|
|(8) NR, 8-5 (0-1): Traveling to Gainesville is not the best remedy for breaking a slump. While the Georgia Bulldogs have dropped four straight, they are good enough to put a scare into the Gators for a half. Less intimidating teams await this week, as we wait to see if our pre-selling of UGA is warranted. Up Next: South Carolina (H, Wed.), Vandy (H, Sat.)|
|(9) NR, 10-3 (0-0): A big opportunity was wasted when the South Carolina Gamecocks couldn't keep up with Kansas. Now the conference season beckons, and we'll see if USC learned from its non-conference slate. Up Next: Georgia (R, Wed.), Florida (H, Sat.)|
|(10) NR, 11-4 (0-1): While it may not yet be the heavyweight contender it has been most of the time, Kentucky is still a tough draw for the conference opener. Despite hanging with the Wildcats for much of the game, the Ole Miss Rebels simply ran out of juice at crunch time. Still, a good effort vs. a solid team. Up Next: Miss. St. (R, Tue.), Arkansas (H, Sat.)|
|(11) NR, 10-5 (0-1): Dropping a game to Auburn is not a good way to start your season, even if you are the Vanderbilt Commodores. Still, the 'Dores return home to Memorial Gym looking to rebound. A mid-week out-of-conference win over Rice helps ease the pain of the weekend loss. Up Next: Tennessee (H, Wed.), Georgia (R, Sat.)|
|(12) NR, 9-5 (0-1): Even Jamont Gordon's near triple-double wasn't enough to power a young Miss. St. Bulldogs past Tennessee. It was a good effort in the conference on the road, but it still added up to a fourth straight loss. In-state rival Mississippi awaits, before a trip to Rupp. Up Next: Ole Miss (H, Tue.), Kentucky (R, Sat.)|