Les Miles' unbeaten Tigers had to score a touchdown with 1:09 left to subdue visiting Florida 28-24. Despite the scare, LSU still appears to be the class of the conference.
Tennessee made the biggest jump this week, zooming from eighth to fifth after pounding No. 12 Georgia 35-14 over the weekend. Meanwhile, Kentucky and Vanderbilt suffered lopsided losses, returning some sense of normalcy to the SEC standings.
That said, here are this week's ratings, based on the usual 1-10 scale, with 10 being national-championship caliber:
1.LSU (9.6): The Tigers (6-0 overall, 3-0 SEC) needed 106 rushing yards and a late touchdown plunge from tailback Jacob Hester to overcome Florida 28-24. Colt David missed field goal tries of 36 and 43 yards for LSU, which was down by 10 points twice.
2.FLORIDA (8.2): The Gators (5-1, 3-1) outplayed top-ranked LSU for 58 minutes before succumbing 28-24. Tim Tebow continues to be a one-man offense for Florida, rushing for 75 yards and passing for another 158.
3.SOUTH CAROLINA (8.0): The Gamecocks (5-1, 3-1) got a good performance from freshman Chris Smelley, who completed 17 of 30 passes for 256 yards and two TDs in his second career start as Carolina dumped Kentucky 38-23.
4.AUBURN (7.6): The Tigers (4-2, 2-1) got 96 rushing yards from Ben Tate and 77 more from Brad Lester, who missed the first five games under academic suspension, in a 35-7 pasting of Vanderbilt. Brandon Cox connected on 14 of 17 passes for 165 yards.
5.TENNESSEE (7.5): The Vols (3-2, 1-1) finally exhibited a rushing offense (gaining 190 yards) and a rushing defense (allowing just 69 yards) in a 35-14 spanking of No. 12 Georgia.
6.KENTUCKY (7.5): The Wildcats (5-1, 1-1) looked like the Big Blue of old in a 38-23 loss at South Carolina, giving away cheap touchdowns on fumble returns and blowing a crucial scoring opportunity with an end-zone interception. Still, Andre Woodson hit on 23 of 40 passes for 227 yards and underrated running back Rafael Little rushed for 135 yards.
7.GEORGIA (7.2): The Dawgs (4-2, 2-2) saw their offensive line exposed for what it is – young and inexperienced – in a 35-14 loss at Tennessee. With no support from his ground attack, Matthew Stafford completed just 16 of 33 passes for 174 yards.
8.ALABAMA (7.0): The Tide (4-2, 2-1) blew most of a 23-0 first-quarter lead before subduing visiting Houston 30-24. John Parker-Wilson completed 15 of 27 passes for 157 yards, while Glen Coffee (filling in for the injured Terry Grant) rushed for 122 yards. Even so, Houston outgained the Tide 404 yards to 347.
9.ARKANSAS (7.0): The Razorbacks (3-2, 0-2) gradually pulled away from a 17-9 halftime lead en route to a lackluster 34-15 defeat of UT-Chattanooga. Felix Jones (141) and Darren McFadden (122) combined for 263 rushing yards but head coach Houston Nutt's seat is getting hot. A plane flew by War Memorial Stadium carrying a banner that read: “There's Nuttin' like being 0-2 in the SEC!”
10.VANDERBILT (5.7): The Commodores (4-2, 1-2) were hammered 35-7 by Auburn as Vandy quarterback Chris Nickson completed just 5 of 16 passes for 38 yards. A native of Brundidge, Ala., Nickson tends to struggle against his home-state schools. He completed just 5 of 18 for 67 yards in an earlier loss to Alabama.
11.MISSISSIPPI STATE (5.3): The Bulldogs (4-2, 1-2) used two quarterbacks in their 30-13 defeat of Alabama Birmingham. Former starter Michael Henig, back from a broken hand, completed just 2 of 8 passes for 26 yards with two interceptions. Wes Carroll bailed him out by completing 9 of 12 for 94 yards. Tailback Anthony Dixon bailed them both out by rushing for 152 yards. MSU managed just 50 yards of total offense in the first half.
12.OLE MISS (5.0): The Rebels (1-4, 0-3) beat Louisiana Tech 23-0, even though star tailback BenJarvus Green-Ellils was limited to 54 rushing yards. Seth Adams also struggled, completing 16 of 32 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns but throwing three interceptions.