As usual, some SEC teams showed their mettle in bowl play, while others showed next to nothing. A few distinguished themselves and a few embarrassed themselves. That said, here are my final SEC Ratings of the 2009 season:
1. ALABAMA (9.5): The Tide (14-0 overall, 8-0 SEC) won the national championship by beating Texas 37-21 in the BCS championship game. Bama wasn't always impressive but it beat every team put in front of it, and that's all a team can do.
2. FLORIDA (9.5): The Gators (13-1, 8-0) lost to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game since my previous ratings came out but bounced back to hammer an unbeaten Cincinnati team 51-10 in the Sugar Bowl. I believe Florida is the second-best team in the land, behind Bama.
3. LSU (7.5): The Tigers (9-4, 5-3) had as much talent as anyone in the SEC but struggled offensively on several occasions. That was the case in a 19-17 loss to Penn State in the Capital One Bowl.
4. ARKANSAS (7.5): The Razorbacks (8-5, 3-5) played some uninspired football on their way to beating East Carolina 20-17 in the Liberty Bowl but, as that great philosopher Johnny Majors once said, "A win is a win."
5. OLE MISS (7.5): The enigmatic Rebels (9-4, 4-4) bounced back from a 41-27 loss to Mississippi State in the regular-season final to dump a good Oklahoma State team 20-7 in the Cotton Bowl.
6. AUBURN (7.0): Gene Chizik's Tigers (8-5, 3-5) needed an overtime and an injury to Northwestern's kicker to subdue an outmanned but scrappy Wildcats squad 38-35 in the Outback Bowl.
7. TENNESSEE (7.0): The Vols (7-6, 4-4) finished on a sour note, losing 37-14 in the Chick fil-A Bowl to a Virginia Tech team that was better but not 23 points better.
8. GEORGIA (7.0): Mark Richt's Bulldogs (8-5, 4-4) followed their upset of Georgia Tech in the regular-season finale with another good win in the Independence Bowl, trouncing Texas A&M 44-20.
9. SOUTH CAROLINA (7.0): The Gamecocks (7-6, 3-5), coming off a big win over Clemson in the regular-season finale, gave a pitiful showing in a 20-7 loss to UConn in the Papajohns.com Bowl.
10. KENTUCKY (7.0): The Wildcats (7-6, 3-5) closed the Rich Brooks era on a disappointing note, bowing 21-13 to Clemson in the Music City Bowl.
11. MISSISSIPPI STATE (7.0): Dan Mullen's Bulldogs (5-7, 3-5) did not qualify for postseason play, but they'll spend the offseason reliving their 41-27 pasting of Ole Miss in the regular-season finale.
12. VANDERBILT (5.5): The Commodores (2-10, 0-8) have the next six months to figure out what went wrong in 2009.