Final SEC power rankings for 2010

Here’s a look at the final SEC power rankings for the 2010 season.

After Monday night’s Tostitos BCS National Championship Game, there’s not much drama at the top spot:

1. Auburn: The Tigers (14-0) completed a perfect season with their first national championship since 1957. Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton was the story for most of the season, both on and off the field, but the Tigers proved in their 22-19 win over Oregon on Monday that they could win even when Newton doesn’t play his best football.

2. LSU: After winning 11 games or more for the fourth time in six seasons under Les Miles, LSU (11-2) must now stave off Michigan’s run at Miles. The Mad Hatter is going to listen to what his alma mater has to say. His Tigers beat four teams that finished in the Top 25 of the final BCS standings this season and were 5-2 against nationally ranked foes. They were extremely impressive in their AT&T Cotton Bowl win over Texas A&M.

3. Alabama: As pleasing as it had to be for Alabama fans to see the Crimson Tide (10-3) destroy Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl, they’re probably wondering where that team was all season long. Nobody in the league was more talented than Alabama, but the Tide didn’t always play that way.

4. Arkansas: If only the Hogs (10-3) could have capitalized in the fourth quarter against Ohio State in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, what was a very good season could have been a great season. Arkansas beat four teams that finished in the Top 25 of the final BCS standings and was 3-3 against nationally ranked teams.

5. Mississippi State: The award for the most-improved team in the league goes to the Bulldogs (9-4). They routed Michigan in the Progressive Gator Bowl and promptly sweetened Dan Mullen’s deal. The downer was that defensive coordinator Manny Diaz got away and went to Texas.

6. South Carolina: Once again, the Gamecocks (9-5) bombed pretty badly at the end. And in doing so, Steve Spurrier finished with his sixth straight season of at least five losses or more at South Carolina. All in all, though, getting to the SEC championship game for the first time was a coup.

7. Florida: The Gators (8-5) made sure Urban Meyer went out a winner by taking care of business in the Outback Bowl against Penn State. Otherwise, this was not a season they will remember fondly in Gainesville. The offense hit rock bottom. The Gators finished 10th in the league in total offense and tried to make a spread quarterback out of pocket passer John Brantley.

8. Georgia: What a pitiful performance by the Bulldogs (6-7) in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. The only reason they’re not ranked even lower is because they routed Tennessee 41-14 head-to-head this season. Mark Richt is down to one last chance to get this program turned around. If the Bulldogs are not back among the SEC’s elite next year, Richt will be gone.

9. Tennessee: The Vols (6-7) were another one of those Eastern Division teams that finished with a losing record. Four of the six teams in the East had losing seasons. Tennessee didn’t get any help from the officials in its overtime loss to North Carolina in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, but the Vols did win four in a row to get to the postseason.

10. Kentucky: Kentucky (6-7) managed to stink it up even more in its bowl game than Georgia did, if that’s possible. The Wildcats were inept offensively in the 27-10 loss to Pittsburgh without starting quarterback Mike Hartline and weren’t good enough everywhere else to make up the difference. Other than the second-half comeback against South Carolina, it’s a season that fell short of expectations.

11. Ole Miss: About the only thing the Rebels (4-8) won all year was the appeal with the NCAA for quarterback transfer Jeremiah Masoli to be able to play prior to the first week of the season. After that, it was all downhill. The Rebels lost at home to FCS foe Jacksonville State in the opener and also lost by two touchdowns at home to Vanderbilt. Defensive struggles persisted all season long.

12. Vanderbilt: The Commodores (2-10) at least won an SEC game this season after going winless in the league the previous season. Robbie Caldwell was already in a tough spot from the outset, and then the injuries set in. The Commodores struggled at quarterback, couldn’t finish drives and also saw their normally reliable defense suffer. Caldwell stepped down at the end of the season, giving way to former Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin as Vanderbilt’s head coach.