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SEC Power Poll: A Sea of Blue's Ballot for Week 1

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So here it is, my much anticipated ballot for the SEC Power Poll for week 1 of the college football season.  Below, you will have my rankings, rationale and comments.  The full power poll will be published in the next day or so at Garnet and Black Attack as always.  You can find links to the participating blogs down on the left sidebar near the bottom, or by going to the SEC Power Poll website.

Now, to my ballot.  Here we go:

  1. Florida -- Despite the fact that Hawai'i is a WAC team and Georgia put the beat-down on them when they were good last year, they are a FBS team, unlike Georgia Southern (see below).  The Gates hung 56 points on them, so they get the nod for #1 in my first ballot.

  2. Georgia -- The Bulldogs beat Georgia Southern handily between the hedges, but when you allow a Southern Conference team to put up 21 points, you have to say that there might be a chink or three in the Classic City Canines' armor.  Too early to say for sure, but this was a far less impressive performance than Florida.

  3. LSU -- LSU is not Michigan, and does not surrender losses (or even competitive games) to FCS teams.  LSU looks very fast, very strong in the lines and hits like a Mack truck at 100 MPH on defense.  Quarterback is a big question mark, though.

  4. Alabama -- Alabama took Clemson, ranked #9 in the pre-season, to the woodshed in Tuscaloosa the Georgia Dome.  The Tide dominated the Palmetto State Pussycats so thoroughly, they didn't have a single positive rushing yard.  This has the entire SEC wondering if the Sabanator has turned the Elephants around in only his second year at the Capstone.

  5. Auburn -- Only the stunning blitzkrieg of Clemson by Alabama could force me to rank Tubby's Tigers this low.  They are a powerful team and Louisiana Monroe is not a total cupcake.  Still, they don't deserve to be higher based on this week's performance, but don't count on them staying down here in the mid-pack.  They face a much more impressive Troy next week, and we should get a good measure of where they belong from that.

  6. Tennessee -- Many will wonder why I have ranked the Offensive Orange so high -- after all, they surrendered a loss to the Bruins in the Rose Bowl, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.  But this is my pean to a team that marches out, not just on the road, but to one of the best conferences in the land every year and takes their best shot.  UCLA is much, much better than many thought, and Rick Neuheisel looks like the second coming of Steve Spurrier with the way he coached up his young QB.  Despite the scoreboard, there is no doubt that the Vols are a much better team than the Bruins, so call this a "benefit of the doubt" vote.

  7. Kentucky -- Yes, I ranked them above South Carolina, even though I'm not sure they belong.  The Gridiron Felines stepped on the necks of their most bitter rival for the second year in a row, and did it with a defensive unit that outscored the offense.  Despite that, there are an awful lot of questions yet to be answered about UK's offense, which looked very shaky and netted only 210 yards, a thoroughly anemic total.  Much of that was due to a coaching decision to manage the field and let the defense win, but we are going to have to see the 'Cats a few more times before we can take their measure, and they don't face another FBS school until they open SEC play in Tuscaloosa.

  8. South Carolina -- The 'Cocks of Columbia did not play an impressive game on offense, but they did hold a very weak FBS team scoreless.  Unfortunately, their starting quarterback threw four interceptions in the first half, and had to be replaced in the second half by his backup.  Despite the score, this was not an encouraging outing by the Gamecocks, and The Visor must be wondering what he has to do to find a quarterback.  Next week, the Gamecocks take on Vanderbilt (who beat Spurrier in Columbia last year) in Nashville, and that game will tell a lot more about where they are.

  9. Vanderbilt -- The Nautical Nashvillians put on a bit of an offensive outburst against the Miami (OH) Redhawks, and beat them for the second year in a row, this time on the road.  Chris Nickson was an offensive force for the 'Dores, racking up 257 combined yards (71% of the Commodore's offense) and scoring 3 touchdowns -- 1 running and 2 passing.  But the Commodore defense allowed 340 opponent yards, and does not look SEC-worthy based on that performance.

  10. Ole Miss -- The Nutty One's team jacked up an impressive 41 points against the Little Debbies of Memphis, whom the Rebs have owned lock, stock and barrel 8 times out of the last 10 years.  Much was made of Ole Miss intercepting two passes, but it's defense surrendered over 400 yards to a Conference USA opponent.  It's usually closer than this, though, so maybe Houston's Hellions are going to make some noise this year.  Color me unconvinced at this point, but the Rebs do deserve watching.

  11. Arkansas -- Barely squeaking by the FCS Western Illinois Leathernecks is not the way to impress an SEC fan, or for that matter, an Arkansas fan.  About the best you can say about this win is that Bobby Petrino's debut did not result in an embarrassing loss to an FCS school, so at least he didn't totally drag the honor of the SEC through the muck.  But at this point, the Hawgs look like pigskin doormats in the West.

  12. Mississippi State -- Sylvester Croom put the surprise hurt on several SEC schools last year and got the Bulldogs to a bowl game.  For that, he got an awful lot of love in the SEC Power Poll pre-season coach's rankings.  But I suspect after a) traveling to a school like Louisiana Tech,  b) losing to them and c) putting up only 14 points against them, many are thinking that love may have been badly misplaced.

So there you have it -- the good and bad of SEC football according to the not-so-expert opinion of a basketball school blogger.  But self-deprecation aside, it looks to me at this point that the fight for the mid-pack spots in the SEC is going to be every bit as heated as the fight for the top.

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Kenny Colston of UK Wildcat Country has also submitted his ballot.

John Clay has his own power poll up at Sidelines.