The regular season is officially in the books. South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi State, Arkansas, and Vanderbilt have put all the pigskins in the crates and the pads on the shelves for the winter, calling it a season and being grateful for the wins they got, even though there were fewer of them than the losses. Everybody else is getting ready for a bowl trip over the holidays, and Georgia and Alabama are squaring off to fight for a potential berth in the College Football Playoff.
There was a lot more parity in the league this year compared to previous years. Two years ago every single SEC team except for Vanderbilt finished 6-6 or better to hit bowl eligibility, and last year 11 did, but this year only nine teams hit .500. Of those nine teams, however, only Auburn hit it exactly—everyone else finished 7-5 or better, and four teams won ten games. Missouri was one of the league’s biggest winners, and Vanderbilt was unable to build off of any of last season’s momentum and lost all eight conference games. Georgia won every single game just like the two years before for back-to-back-to-back perfect SEC regular seasons, and Alabama recovered from a home loss to Texas for an 8-0 SEC record and still has a chance to make the College Football Playoff. And of course, the Kentucky Wildcats posted another solid season under Mark Stoops, defeating Florida for the third straight year, winning at Mississippi State for the first time since 2008, and winning at #10 Louisville for their fifth straight win in the series.
Let’s dive into the final rankings:
Final SEC Football Power Rankings
Win of the Week: Kentucky
The Governor’s Cup is staying in Lexington! Just like back in 2016, Kentucky came into Cardinal Stadium 6-5 against a Louisville team in the middle of a dream season and emerged with a signature road victory in a thrilling, down-to-the-wire rivalry football game. Going from 5-0 to 6-5 is no fun, even if all five of those losses were part of a really difficult schedule, but beating that Louisville team in their own building on the final day of the season releases a whole lot of that frustration and makes everyone five times more excited about the bowl game.
Gold Stars: Missouri
A 34-point road win in Fayetteville closed the Tigers’ season and added to their extensive collection of impressive blowout victories. They will almost certainly be playing in the New Year’s Six, and with luck might win that one in blowout fashion too.
Rotten Eggs: Auburn
I didn’t think things could get worse than losing by 21 at home to New Mexico State, but the pain of that gut-punch must’ve felt like nothing compared to Jalen Milroe’s 4th & 31 pass. After all the underwhelming play they’d posted all season, Auburn was one play away from erasing it all, and after a couple of hours standing in the pocket, Alabama QB found Alabama WR for Alabama TD. That’s the way it goes when you don’t give it absolutely everything against Nick Saban. That’s why they win championships.
Achievement Unlocked: Road Warriors
An incredible five teams won on the road to close out their seasons: Georgia, Alabama, Missouri, Ole Miss, and Kentucky. Not only that, but Kentucky won as an underdog against a top-10 foe, while the other four entered their games with far superior records than those of their opponents.
That’s it for this season’s SEC power rankings. Georgia once again finishes as the top dawg, and Vanderbilt once again brings up the rear, and everyone else once again spent 13 weeks completely taking their fans by surprise in ways that were either pleasant or horrifying. Just another season in the Southeastern Conference. We will be back next fall with two new faces in our power rankings as Texas and Oklahoma join the league and make things even more chaotic. Till then, Go Big Blue!