Alex Scarborough, ESPN Staff Writer 352d

SEC Week 9 power rankings: Florida in free fall, Mississippi State rising

Here's a look at where things stand in the SEC through nine weeks of the regular season:

1. Alabama (8-0): The Crimson Tide got a much-needed week off before the home stretch of LSU, Mississippi State, Mercer and Auburn to end the regular season.

2. Georgia (8-0): Didn't believe in Georgia before? What about now? What about that freshman quarterback, that stingy defense, that 8-0 record and that 42-7 beatdown it laid on rival Florida on Saturday? The Bulldogs are not only the real deal, they're a legitimate College Football Playoff contender.

3. Auburn (6-2): The Tigers enjoyed the week off before going on the road to Texas A&M this weekend.

4. Mississippi State (6-2): The Bulldogs went away for awhile, losing two straight games to Georgia and Auburn, but now they're back. Saturday's convincing 35-14 win at Texas A&M was the third win in a row for a Mississippi State team that's peaking at the right time with UMass and Alabama up next.

5. LSU (6-2): The Tigers enjoyed an off week before a critical clash with Alabama in Week 10.

6. Texas A&M (5-3): After building up a lot of goodwill and positivity in recent weeks, the Aggies dropped a stinker at home, losing by three touchdowns to Mississippi State. Is it the start of another late-season slide, or will the Aggies find a way to write a different ending this November?

7. South Carolina (6-2): The Gamecocks are going bowling again after getting their sixth win, a 34-27 victory against Vanderbilt. Will Muschamp seems to have this program going in the right direction, and they're still technically in the SEC East division chase, with a big game coming up against Georgia.

8. Kentucky (6-2): For the second consecutive season, the Wildcats are going bowling, clinching eligibility with a 29-26 win against Tennessee. All but one game of theirs has been decided by 11 or fewer points, and they've won all but one of those. A shot at eight or nine wins is realistic.

9. Florida (3-4): This is what a free fall looks like: losing three games in a row, a 42-7 drubbing at the hands of your chief rival and firing your coach 24 hours later.

10. Vanderbilt (3-5): The Commodores have lost five in a row -- all five being in SEC play -- after their seven-point loss to South Carolina. A once promising season now is in danger of not even ending in a bowl as Vandy must win three of its last four to get eligible. That is still doable given the schedule, but not unless the Commodores turn it around.

11. Arkansas (3-5): For the first time in a month, the Razorbacks have a positive result to take away after a wild, wacky, come-from-behind win against Ole Miss. After trailing 31-7 at one point, Arkansas came back to steal a 38-37 victory.

12. Ole Miss (3-5): Shea Patterson was lost for the season with an injury last week, and surprisingly Ole Miss' offense didn't cave in. Jordan Ta'amu completed 20 of 230 passes for 368 yards, but his defense let him down as Arkansas overcame a double-digit deficit to beat the Rebs.

13. Tennessee (3-5): Butch Jones couldn't steer his way out of the ditch, not even against Kentucky, whom Tennessee had beaten in 31 of its previous 32 meetings. With four losses in a row and one SEC coach already fired, Jones might be next.

14. Missouri (3-5): The Tigers have now won two in a row after rolling to yet another non-conference victory, a 52-12 win against Connecticut. Mizzou has yet to win an SEC game this season, but will try to break that trend this week against Florida.

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