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Alabama holds firm, still the class of the SEC

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

There's no question this week about the top spot, and that's despite dominant performances from Florida and Georgia. Alabama played what coach Nick Saban called the Crimson Tide's most complete game since the opener against Clemson in burying Tennessee 29-9 last Saturday at Neyland Stadium, which took on a distinctive shade of crimson late in the fourth quarter. By some estimates, there were more than 25,000 Alabama fans in the stands. Think the Tide Nation is fired up about this football team? Here's a look at this week's SEC power rankings:

1. Alabama: Even without injured nose tackle Terrence Cody, the Alabama defense was dominant and held Tennessee to a meaningless touchdown in the fourth quarter and 36 rushing yards. His numbers aren't staggering, but senior quarterback John Parker Wilson has done a fabulous job of managing this offense. He's playing exactly the way Saban wants him to play and has made very few poor decisions this season.

2. Florida: The Gators have it going on in all three phases right now. They're always going to generate a few plays on special teams under Urban Meyer. But the key to their success has been figuring out how to incorporate Jeffrey Demps and Chris Rainey into the offense. That's made all the difference in the world. You could make a case that Florida is playing better than anyone in the league right now. The Gators get a chance to prove that this Saturday against Georgia.

3. Georgia: After doing just enough to get by offensively and leaving a bunch of points on the field the last few weeks, Georgia had that breakout game last weekend the Bulldog Nation has been eagerly awaiting. The Bulldogs blasted LSU, 52-38, with Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno and A.J. Green all having big days. The unsung hero of this team right now, though, is the offensive line. The Bulldogs, playing with three freshmen, have weathered injuries and constant shuffling to become a solid unit up front.

4. LSU: The Tigers stay No. 4 by default. Everybody else right behind them lost. And even though they've been blown out by Georgia and Florida and given up an embarrassing 103 points along the way, they're still one of the most talented teams in the league. Mistakes at the quarterback position cost the Tigers big time against the Bulldogs, and what has happened to their defense?

5. South Carolina: I'm breaking one of my rules by moving South Carolina ahead of Vanderbilt, which beat the Gamecocks earlier this season. But the Commodores were so awful in losing to Duke this past weekend that I can't in good conscience keep them fifth. The Gamecocks, who were off, have played better the last month and have a great chance to get to eight wins.

6. Vanderbilt: This is a shaky No. 6 for the Commodores, who've now lost three in row. Two of those losses were bad ones, too. Their problem right now is they can't consistently move the ball and score. Their 10-7 loss to Duke was a blow to their bowl chances, but not the end of the world. They still have some games remaining they can win and get a much-needed open date this weekend.

7. Ole Miss: The Rebels are that team in the SEC with a ho-hum record (4-4, 2-3 SEC), but significantly better than that record suggests. They're two crippling fumbles away from being 6-2 after holding on to win in the "Houston Nutt Bowl" last Saturday against Arkansas. It's a team that's still learning how to win, but six or seven wins and a bowl game look realistic this season.

8. Kentucky: All of a sudden, Kentucky is reeling. The Wildcats' kicking game was a disaster last Saturday and opened the floodgates for Florida to pin a 63-5 whipping on them at the Swamp. Several defensive starters either didn't play or were playing at far less than 100 percent, but this is a team that needs to be careful now if it's serious about going to a bowl. The game this week at Mississippi State looms large in that quest.

9. Auburn: It just keeps getting worse for Auburn and Tommy Tuberville. The 34-17 loss to West Virginia last Thursday night might have been the Tigers' worst yet. They gave up 31 unanswered points, and there were telltale signs in the second half that it's going to be a long finish to the season. You wonder if the players on this team (especially those on defense) have reached the point where they've had enough?

10. Tennessee: Like Tommy Tuberville, Phillip Fulmer continues to dig himself a hole that gets deeper by the week. Once again, the Vols had a rival team come to their stadium, and once again they were never really in the game in the second half. It's the worst Tennessee has been on offense in nearly 30 years. In the loss to Alabama, the Vols couldn't score a touchdown from the 5 after getting a special teams gift.

11. Arkansas: Bobby Petrino's bunch is getting better. You can see the future for the Hogs, but that still doesn't make the last two losses any easier. Arkansas had chances to win them both and just couldn't do it. Getting over that hump is hard when you're playing so many freshmen. Still, don't be surprised if the Hogs (3-5, 1-4 SEC) win again this season.

12. Mississippi State: The 31-22 win over Middle Tennessee wasn't enough to lift the Bulldogs out of the cellar. They will get another chance to pry themselves out of the bottom spot this coming Saturday against Kentucky. The Bulldogs continue to fight and play hard under Sylvester Croom, but there's no getting around the fact that this is an offense that needs revamping.