Andy: So: Alabama. No. 1. Even when Alabama doesn't look good, it looks nigh unbeatable.
Leli: Point of clarification: Are we using the totality of the entire season's results to rank these teams or ranking them based on their current level of play? Or a combination of both? I think my tiers would mostly contain the same teams in any event but the order might shift a little. And, honestly, other than what I would categorize as my first and last tiers, the middle two are messes of teams that could probably be interchangeable.
Andy: I think it's fair to rank on current level of play. We're ranking teams, not seasons — though ranking on seasons would be fun. Like, achievement rankings vs. "power" rankings.
Leli: OK. That's why I wanted to clarify. I think that'd be fun, too.
Andy: Maybe we'll do those next week.
Leli: We could! Since it'd be the end of the regular season and all.
Andy: And then revisit them after the bowls to see if anything's changed.
Leli: I like this idea!
Andy: I like #content.
Leli: So we're both happy!
Anyway: Yeah, Alabama is that first tier unto itself. I was going to say watching Alabama get into a field goal battle with Auburn gave me the slightest hope that they were mortal. But then I thought about Florida getting into a field ... goal ... battle.
No. 1: Alabama
Leli: My second and third tiers are a mess. I'm leaning, in no particular order: Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Arkansas in the second tier. Maybe Florida, Maybe LSU in there too.
Andy: I would have Mississippi No. 2 by itself. I think the next four are a tier.
Leli: I would put Ole Miss first amongst those so that'll work.
They definitely have gotten their stride back and the Egg Bowl never really was in doubt. Even though Mississippi State came back some.
Andy: Their three losses make total sense, too.
Florida was hot as could be and home on a night when the crowd was amazing, and it got turnovers. Robert Nkemdiche was hurt at Memphis, in another game in which the crowd mattered. And Arkansas just had a little magic.
Leli: They got the best Florida team/performance this year. They played Memphis when they had a lot of injuries on defense, and Memphis has a great offense. And Arkansas squeaked by them largely because of a fluke play and Bret Bielema being ballsy enough to go for two in overtime.
Andy: And we've seen that Mississippi's best can beat Alabama's B game.
Leli: Yep. Ole Miss is a solid No. 2 right now, I think.
No. 2: Mississippi
Andy: All right. On to that messy tier.
One thing to say before we get into it: Doesn't Tennessee belong in here, too? Maybe toward the bottom, and maybe still behind Florida.
Leli: I had them at the top of my next, but I think that is probably fair, as I'd say Florida is at the bottom of this one.
Andy: Does Tennessee beat Florida tomorrow? What about the any of the next 11 days?
Leli: If that's the metric, I'm going to have to move Florida way lower. Way. Lower.
Andy: I don't think it has to be the only one. And I do think Florida's no worse than the second-best team in the SEC East right now.
Leli: You aren't proposing Tennessee at No. 3, are you? In the overall SEC?
Andy: No, no.
Leli: Okay. I was worried there.
Andy: Tennessee's near the bottom of this third tier, at best.
Leli: But above Florida? Okay.
Since this is a power poll, I'm going to say Mississippi State next. Then Arkansas. How do you feel about that?
Andy: Arkansas beat Mississippi; Mississippi State did not. Why Bulldogs, then Hogs? I'm fine with them 3-4 in some order.
Leli: You know, the Bulldogs did just squeak by Arkansas on a blocked field goal. So you know what? Flip them.
Andy: Glad you see it my way.
Leli: Arkansas was more impressive over Missouri, too, the mutual SEC East opponent between the two.
Again, I really don't want to play Arkansas in November next year.
Andy: LSU beats both Florida and Tennessee, right?
Leli: This is where I have to cringe and say I think Tennessee might beat LSU right now. When I really think about it, that's what I think.
Andy: LSU was supposed to be playing for Les Miles's career on Saturday, right? Why didn't Leonard Fournette run for a billion yards on Texas A&M?
Leli: LSU did beat A&M this weekend, scoring 19, but LSU's offense has been terrible since the Alabama game. And you can run on A&M, too. That's been proven this season.
Andy: Yes, you can.
Leli: LSU's offense is not good. You'd have to expect some changes will be made on that side of the ball even with Miles staying. Talent is not the issue there.
Andy: I imagine that might even be a condition of him staying.
Leli: Yep. So, Tennessee, then LSU, then Florida?
Andy: I mean: Maybe?
Leli: Yeah. The middle of the SEC is a big mediocre mess.
Andy: Tennessee's problem isn't that it's not good. It's that it wasn't good when it mattered most.
Leli: Oh, for sure. I think Tennessee's defense could stop LSU's offense, if both units are in their current states.
Andy: Sure. And Tennessee would get enough against LSU with Jalen Hurd.
Leli: Tennessee hasn't lost since Alabama, and led at some point in all four of its close losses. All those losses were to good teams, too.
They likely lost to two playoff teams in Alabama and Oklahoma.
Andy: And to a team that looked like a playoff team with the QB Tennessee saw. Or, well, a team that could have been in playoff contention, anyway.
Appearances can be deceiving.
Leli: Yep. And they lost to Arkansas; look at Arkansas now. (That was the game after the Florida loss, too.)
Andy: No team has more good losses than Tennessee, and if the Vols had made rallies to get to those final scores, we'd think of them as hard-luck losers.
Blowing leads is different. Twitter laughs.
Leli: Teams change over the course of a season. And, as we've said before when doing this, that change can be for better or worse. (Cough, Florida, cough. Cough.)
Leli: So, Tennessee at No. 5.
Andy: Then LSU, then Florida.
Leli: We agree!
We talked about LSU already: Les Miles is staying, the offense is bad, blah, blah.
Andy: Yeah, I dunno what else to say.
Leli: But speaking of bad offenses: Hi, Florida. Still love you. And your defense.
Andy: In a rematch with LSU, Florida would lose by seven again, except it would be 9-2 somehow.
Leli: Probably. Not 9-3. Lord knows it wouldn't be 9-3.
I don't know what to make of, or say about, Florida's avant-garde interpretation of offense (as you called it).
Andy: This is what I think: Treon Harris is bad and has gotten worse at passing, and teams are wisely forcing him to pass rather than doing literally anything else.
Kelvin Taylor runs hard and has been exceptionally good of late, but he can't run through holes that don't exist against eight-man fronts.
Leli: And, still, Taylor was able to get those 136 yards, bless him. With no threat of a passing game.
And Florida's poor defense. Holding Dalvin Cook to 34 (!!!) yards through the first three quarters, holding FSU until it couldn't. They try so hard to keep the Gators in games, and usually they've been very successful this year. Hell, they even contributed the only "score" that Florida had all evening.
Andy: It's like watching the deckhands bail the Titanic.
No. 3: Arkansas
No. 4: Mississippi State
No. 5: Tennessee
No. 6: LSU
No. 7: Florida
Andy: So: On to The Teams That Would Lose Close Games To Florida.
Leli: Lose 'em 7-3, they would. Georgia's next?
Leli: Georgia scored three points on Florida in October before its collapsing started. So I think that's fair.
Andy: And Harris was Florida's quarterback then, too. It's not Florida's fault that Georgia decided to completely fail in a lot of ways from Halloween on.
Leli: Faton Bauta was one of the nails in Mark Richt's coffin, for sure.
Andy: Remember when I said I wanted to read the behind-the-scenes piece on those two weeks? That piece is totally getting written this offseason.
Leli: Way to fire your coach who averages nine wins a season, Georgia. I thought LSU was the school dumb enough to do that.
Leli: As a Gator fan, I am going to be sad to see Schottenheimer go.
Andy: YOU DON'T KNOW THAT HE'S NOT STAYING. THEY COULD KEEP HIM. IT'S POSSIBLE.
Leli: Hahahaha. Do you think he can run the type of offense that Georgia's prodigal son alumnus, who will be returning home to coach, wants?
You know, the one who coached for Nick Saban...
Andy: Which one are we talking about here?
Leli: Will Muschamp.
You know who Will Muschamp should hire as his offensive coordinator? And I mean this in full sincerity.
Andy: Kendal Briles.
Leli: To run the Baylor offense?
Leli: ...William Larry Muschamp?
Andy: Why not go as young and radical as possible?
There's no coordinator who will excite recruits and Muschamp. And Muschamp, for all the shit he takes from fans who either thought his Florida offenses were unwatchable — which, um, this month has been worse — or love to lampoon his sideline, er, passion, is not so dumb as to not at least be aware of that blind spot.
Leli: Yeah, as a Florida fan, I don't want that at Georgia. I am fine with Muschamp getting another opportunity and I hope he can be successful. Just not at Georgia.
When he was linked to the UCF job, I thought that might be a great thing for him. I thought being in Florida would be good for him because of the recruiting. And he could dominate the AAC with a good defense: Look at what Temple and UConn did this year.
Andy: I think he will be really good at any job where he can get talent, because there's basically no way he can get as unlucky as he was at Florida again. (Right?) He can get talent at Georgia. He can get it at UCF, even. I'm not sure he's gonna get it at South Carolina, if that's where he winds up, though I doubt he'd take that job.
He'd have to defend the Navy triple option if he went to UCF, though.
Leli: He'd get used to it.
Andy: You'd hope.
The other guy I'd suggest Muschamp pick as offensive coordinator? Houston's OC ... if it weren't Major Applewhite.
Leli: Ha, I agree.
Andy: So who's with Georgia in that tier? Auburn, which it beat pretty comfortably? Texas A&M, which has its own problems?
Leli: Those are my next two, yes. I'd say Auburn then Texas A&M. Right now.
A&M has two more wins than Auburn, yes. Auburn beat A&M pretty soundly, though. Also, the Tigers seem to have improved. They hung with Alabama pretty well, while A&M ... did not.
Andy: Rivalry game at home matters, no?
Leli: Somewhat. But, still: A&M was undefeated and playing Alabama at home when they lost. I think both of these two are pretty close in quality. I wouldn't hate flipping them. Since they seem close in overall quality, I would order them as their head-to-head results suggest.
Andy: Is that a whole fourth tier? It gets us through every West team and leaves just the East dregs.
No. 8: Georgia
No. 9: Auburn
No. 10: Texas A&M
Leli: Now, I have ordered the east dregs as such: Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina But, switching some of those won't break my heart.
Andy: I am very unconvinced that Kentucky could beat anyone right now.
Leli: Vandy still has that defense. I was going to say maybe flip Kentucky and Missouri
Andy: But South Carolina allowed 24 to Florida's offense, then lost to The Citadel, then got worked by Clemson.
Leli: How'd Kentucky win 5 games?
Andy: September was a weird-ass time?
Kentucky's wins: Louisiana (by a TD, in a comeback), South Carolina, Missouri, Eastern Kentucky, Charlotte. Kentucky has four wins over FBS teams, one of which is dreadful Charlotte, and the best of those teams it beat has four wins against FBS teams.
Leli: Are you saying Missouri is the best of those teams?
Andy: Well, it does have the most wins over FBS teams in that group.
Leli: Ain't no shame in coming back to beat Louisiana-Lafayette.
Andy: There is when Louisiana's not nearly as good as it was in 2012. And when it's the season opener and you have everyone healthy. And ... I could go on.
Leli: I was making a joke! The circumstances are not the same. That 2012 Ragin' Cajun team had nine wins.
So: Vandy, Missouri, Kentucky, South Carolina.
Andy: Yeah, I'm fine with that.
Leli: Vandy and Missouri have strong defenses. Kentucky and South Carolina have ... well, they play football.
Andy: I think I'd lean toward Vandy at No. 11 because Vandy scored points on Tennessee.
Leli: Vandy > Missouri, yes.
Andy: And Missouri > Kentucky because ... eh, whatever. The only thing I feel even remotely passionate about in this bottom four is Vandy being the best of the four.
Leli: Is Austin Peay an FBS team?
Leli: See, that's why I thought you meant Missouri when you said four FBS teams. Vandy has three wins over FBS teams and they're literally the median of the SEC East.
And yet I agree with you re: Vanderbilt being the best of the bottom.
No. 11: Vanderbilt
No. 12: Missouri
No. 13: Kentucky
No. 14: South Carolina
Leli: Man, the East was bad this year. Having just looked up those teams records while we were talking...
Andy: The SEC East is, to put it kindly, dogshit.
Andy: But Florida's the least smelly team in the pile.
Leli: Well, Tennessee is that team, according to what we think and this poll. But Florida is if we're doing a season review poll.
But, hey, give the Gators some credit for being the team to emerge clean from the pile of dogshit. Sweeping the East, even in a super down year, is still an accomplishment.
Andy: Tennessee rolled in the pile earlier and has largely escaped from it. Florida just stomped on it a lot.
Leli: So, the Gators stomped out the flaming pile of dogshit on their front porch that was the SEC East.
Andy: Yeah. Basically.
Good thing there are no more games for Florida against any teams in the SEC West or anythi oh god why god why.
Leli: Alabama sacked Dak Prescott NINE times.
Andy: Yes, but Dak Prescott is only perhaps the best player Dan Mullen has ever coached. He is no Treon Harris.
Leli: Double. Digit. Sacks.
Andy: If we keep doing this, I'm gonna need a therapist. So I'm just going to end it here. Go Gators. Tebow help us.
Leli: Tebow help us, indeed.