SEC football rankings heading into Week 15 of the 2016 season. Alabama took care of business in the SEC Championship Game and moves one game closer to the ultimate goal.
Cue up Denny Green: They are who we thought they were.
Whether discussing Alabama or Florida, the words ring true for both.
The Crimson Tide were a force of nature in the SEC Championship Game. Take away their opening drive on defense and Adam Griffith’s placekicking issues, and Alabama was near dominant everywhere else. How about allowing a grand total of zero rushing yards? That’s an SEC title game record, and that’s something special.
As for the Gators, well, the offense proved about as ineffective as expected. Austin Appleby constantly mistook Alabama’s crimson for his own team’s orange. Florida’s defense did its part, but was, again, undone by the other side of the ball. Ultimately, Florida made Alabama look like the second coming of the 1985 Bears.
With the SEC football season now in the books take a look at the conference rankings heading into Week 15.
Week 15 SEC Football Rankings
14. Missouri (Last Week – 14)
The SEC’s version of Texas Tech, Missouri was first in the conference in total offense (500.5 yards per game) and dead last total defense (479.7 yards allowed). It was a rough first season for Barry Odom, though beating Arkansas to close things out ended it on a high note.
13. Ole Miss (11)
Hugh Freeze will be more than happy to flush the past 12 months of his life. NCAA investigations, pay for play scandals, unmet expectations, late game collapses: it has been a trying year for Ole Miss.
12. Mississippi State (12)
What a difference between Mississippi State’s season-opener and season-closer – from losing to South Alabama to throttling Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl. Defense will be a point of emphasis in the offseason, after finishing No. 13 in the SEC in points allowed (33.1) and tied for 12th in yards allowed (461.3 per game).
11. South Carolina (10)
Will Muschamp has his quarterback of the future, now can he develop Jake Bentley into the next great SEC passer? Such was a problem during Coach Boom’s stint at Florida. Bentley is a wonderful piece to build around; thankfully MRIs on his knee after the Clemson loss showed no structural damage.
10. Vanderbilt (13)
Helluva year for Derek Mason. Vandy had a top-five scoring defense within the conference, and pulled off the comeback against Tennessee to reach bowl eligibility. If Mason can construct some semblance of an offense in Nashville his team could very well shake up some of the establishment in the East.
9. Arkansas (6)
A season of inconsistency, that’s what this was for Bret Bielema’s team. After opening with three consecutive victories, the Hogs traded wins and losses for the duration of the season. They looked hapless against Auburn, only to beat the heck out of Florida, and then roll over against LSU. No doubt, Arkansas was expecting more out of its rushing game this season.
8. Georgia (8)
Would Georgia have done better with Mark Richt at the helm than Kirby Smart? Probably. But UGA administration and fans wanted a fresh start, and they’ve got it. Smart is an excellent defensive mind who will mature as a head coach alongside his young team. The Dawgs need to learn how to close out tight games – the Tennessee, Vandy and Georgia Tech losses came by a combined five points.
7. Tennessee (5)
According to Butch Jones, the Volunteers are the Champions of Life. Last year Tennessee couldn’t close out games, and that was an edict heading into 2016. The Vols aced that test, but were undone by a rash of injuries. All the hurt players afford Jones a mulligan, but expect to see him near the top of hot seat lists come next season.
6. Kentucky (7)
Have a season, Mark Stoops. From falling short year after year, to reaching a bowl and defeating Louisville for good measure. Benny Snell figures to be something special, and should Boom Williams return, look out. There’s a certain amount of unrest in the East, and Kentucky could position itself to make a run for the division.
5. Texas A&M (6)
Another late-season collapse for Kevin Sumlin at A&M has fans feeling antsy. Should they really get the five-year itch somebody please plug in tape of the Mike Sherman era for them. The season would have likely ended much differently if Trevor Knight had stayed healthy.
4. LSU (4)
Coach O is the man in charge now. Time to see if he can be a viable long-term option, or if his motivational tactics are better served for galvanizing a team in turmoil. Whatever the case, Orgeron should continue to recruit the daylights out of LSU.
3. Florida (3)
The defense was great and they made it to the conference title game. There are clear signs of discontent from the Florida fan base, but Jim McElwain is two-for-two in winning the East. Coach Mac has won with guys he didn’t recruit; next year we see if the offense improves with his own players in place.
2. Auburn (2)
Heads-up and completely healthy, who would you take: Florida or Auburn? Both have stout defenses and excellent running games. Auburn’s line is better; Florida’s secondary has the edge. The quarterback position tilts a little in Auburn’s favor. Auburn wins a close one. That’s the reason for the No. 2 ranking.
1. Alabama (1)
Alabama needs to shore up its kicking game. Adam Griffith has been shaky for the better part of the season. It hasn’t really mattered thus far, but an automatic kicker makes all the difference when it’s win or go home. Picking nits? Yes. But such is the case with what might be Nick Saban’s most talented roster to date.