Don’t look now, but maybe we have a race in the SEC West after all. If Alabama is to defend its division title, the Crimson Tide will at least have to fight for it.
Nick Saban’s juggernaut kept rolling Saturday by plowing over previously unbeaten Texas A&M, scoring the game’s final 20 points in a 33-14 victory. Auburn and LSU also beat ranked division opponents, however, potentially turning their upcoming games with the Tide into winner-take-all showdowns.
Alabama is still an easy pick to sit atop the SEC Power Rankings, but we could enter November with four West teams boasting one loss or fewer in conference play. That would make the regular season’s final month awfully interesting.
Here’s where things sit after Week 8:
1. Alabama: There was maybe a 10-minute stretch where the No. 1-ranked team in the country was on the ropes, but that ended quickly when Alabama's defense asserted itself. Trevor Knight's big game against the Tide in early 2014 was the big story all week, but he was held in check with a completion percentage below 50 and under 200 yards passing. -- Alex Scarborough
2. Texas A&M: Don't jump off the bandwagon yet. Although the loss hurts, remember that the Aggies had opportunities to score more than the 14 points they managed. Meanwhile, the defense held Alabama to its fewest points all season, and seven of those were the result of a fumble by Keith Ford. -- A.S.
3. Auburn: Who wants to play Auburn right now? The answer should be nobody. Not after Saturday’s 56-3 thrashing of Arkansas. The offense rushed for 543 yards while the defense held the Razorbacks to just 25. This might be the most dangerous team in the SEC, and the Tigers continue to get better every week. -- Greg Ostendorf
4. Tennessee: A much-needed off week arrived for the beat-up Volunteers, who at least get the benefit of a much more manageable schedule in the season's final five weeks. They have to win out and hope Florida slips up in order to get to Atlanta. -- Sam Khan Jr.
5. LSU: The Tigers’ hot streak continued Saturday when they ran away from Ole Miss behind 284 rushing yards from Leonard Fournette in his return from a month-long injury absence. LSU is now off for a week before its Nov. 5 showdown with Alabama at Tiger Stadium. -- David Ching
6. Florida: The Gators were off this week, resting up for their annual showdown with Georgia coming up in Week 9. At the moment, they control their own destiny as the only SEC East team with one conference lost. -- S.K.
7. Arkansas: It’s one thing to lose. It’s another to get run from the stadium like Arkansas did Saturday at Auburn. The good news is that the Razorbacks have an open week coming up to regroup and get healthy again. But there’s a lot of work to be done. -- G.O.
8. Ole Miss: The Rebels hung with LSU for a half, but got shut out after intermission in their 38-21 loss. They have now lost two in a row and are out of contention in the SEC West with a 1-3 conference mark. -- D.C.
9. Georgia: The Bulldogs were off this weekend and take on Florida on Saturday in Jacksonville. They'll try to regroup and get back to the .500 mark in conference play. -- S.K.
10. Kentucky: A nice win for Stoops' troops as the Wildcats came from behind late to edge Mississippi State 40-38 on a last-second field goal. Now sitting at over .500 overall (4-3) and in SEC play (3-2), they are in good shape to make a run at a bowl bid. The past two seasons they haven't been able to finish the deal after getting to five victories; will this be the year they break through? -- S.K.
11. Vanderbilt:Things are looking up for the Commodores, who beat Tennessee State 35-17 to notch consecutive wins for the first time in the Derek Mason era. They're now two wins away from bowl eligibility and have held their past four opponents to 20 points or fewer. -- S.K.
12. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs were in position to get a victory at Kentucky but weren't able to hold on. It's the team's first loss in Lexington since 2005, and MSU is 2-5 for the first time since 2008. Outsiders expected this might be a tough season for the Bulldogs, and it seems to be shaping up that way. -- S.K.
13. South Carolina: The Gamecocks' offense finally showed some life (albeit vs. UMass) and they might have a new quarterback: True freshman Jake Bentley was impressive in his collegiate debut, playing a virtually mistake-free game and making several impressive throws. After scoring more than two offensive touchdowns for the first time all season, there's reason for at least a little bit of optimism. -- S.K.
14. Missouri:The Tigers couldn't get a stop to save themselves in a 51-45 loss to Middle Tennessee. They allowed 584 yards, including 300 rushing yards and four touchdown passes. After showing signs of real progress early in the season, Mizzou has now lost three straight. -- S.K.