Written by Ryan Lippert
Well college football fans, we have been blessed with yet another very exciting college football season. The 2019 regular season came to a close this past weekend and we are now moving into conference championship weekend. As has been the case throughout recent history, the Southeastern Conference has not disappointed. The SEC was once again at the center of the college football landscape this season as their are still two teams in the College Football Playoff picture along with several other teams looking forward to hearing which bowls they will play in. With all of that in mind, here is how my SEC Power Rankings shaped up to end the 2019 college football regular season.
1. LSU (12-0):
Once again, I don’t care what the College Football Playoff rankings say, the LSU Tigers are the best team in the country. They continued to show that this past weekend with an impressive 50-7 blowout victory over a talented Texas A&M team. Quarterback Joe Burrow continued his Heisman and first overall draft pick campaign, throwing for 352 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. He benefited from a huge game from sophomore wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase who finished with seven receptions for 197 yards and two touchdowns. The Tigers will head to Atlanta this Saturday to play for the SEC Championship against the Georgia Bulldogs.
2. Georgia (11-1):
Well the time has finally come where I can confidently say that the Georgia Bulldogs are the second best team in this conference. The Bulldogs wrapped up their 2019 regular season in impressive fashion in a 52-7 victory on the road against their in-state rival, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Quarterback Jake Fromm put on a show as he threw for 254 yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Their defense also stepped up in a big way, holding Georgia Tech to only 139 yards of total offense. While they are currently sitting at fourth in the College Football Playoff rankings, the Bulldogs must pull out a victory over LSU in the SEC Championship this weekend if they want to get in.
3. Auburn (9-3):
Auburn made the most surprising jump for me in my final SEC Power Rankings but it is much deserved. The Tigers played spoiler this past weekend and shook up the College Football Rankings as they pulled off the 48-45 upset at home over their rival, the Alabama Crimson Tide. Freshman quarterback Bo Nix led the Tigers to easily the biggest victory of his career so far, throwing for 173 yards, one touchdown, and zero interceptions while also rushing for 44 yards and a touchdown. Their secondary also stepped up, forcing Alabama quarterback Mac Jones to throw two costly interceptions. They will now wait to see if they will be playing in a “New Year’s Six” bowl to finish off their season.
4. Alabama (10-2):
While the Crimson Tide are still probably one of the most talent-rich teams in the country, the loss of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa proved to be too much for them to recover from. For the first time in the playoff era, Alabama will miss the College Football Playoff as their hopes were crushed by Auburn this past Saturday. Quarterback Mac Jones had a decent game as he threw for 335 yards and four touchdowns but it was unfortunately not enough as his two interceptions cost them in the long run. Like Auburn, the Crimson Tide will now simply wait to see if they will be invited to play in a “New Year’s Six” bowl.
5. Florida (10-2):
Although they didn’t make the SEC Championship game in the end, Florida is a team that actually exceeded my expectations for them this season. They capped off their impressive 10-2 season with a 40-17 home victory over their in-state rival Florida State on Saturday. Quarterback Kyle Trask continued his outstanding season, throwing for 343 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Along with Auburn and Alabama, the Gators are the third SEC team that could possibly be looking at a “New Year’s Six” bid as they jumped to ninth in the latest College Football Playoff rankings.
6. Texas A&M (7-5):
As has been the case this entire season, the Aggies are a talented team that just simply wasn’t good enough to beat out the top five teams in the conference. They showed that in a big way this past weekend as they were the victim of a 50-7 beat down at the hands of the LSU Tigers. LSU’s secondary proved to be too talented for the Aggies to handle as they held quarterback Kellen Mond to only 92 passing yards with zero touchdowns while also coming away with three interceptions. The Aggies also failed to get anything done on the ground as running back Isaiah Spiller was held to 66 yards and a touchdown on eleven carries. The Aggies will now wait to see where they will play for their bowl game with the Texas Bowl and Belk Bowl being listed as their two most likely destinations.
7. Tennessee (7-5):
The Volunteers were a team that I thought was destined for the basement in the SEC with how they started their season. However, they proved me wrong in a big way by finishing their season on a five-game win streak, which was capped off with a 28-10 victory over Vanderbilt this past weekend. Freshman running back Eric Gray led the way with a breakout game against the Commodores. Gray finished with 246 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. With their outstanding finish to the season, the Volunteers are bowl eligible with the Taxslayer Gator Bowl, Music City Bowl, and Outback Bowl listed as potential destinations.
8. Kentucky (7-5):
My beloved Kentucky Wildcats were a team that went through a lot of ups and downs in the 2019 season. Fortunately, they were able to pull things together and overcome all of the unfortunate injuries to become bowl eligible for the fourth straight season under head coach Mark Stoops. They put a huge exclamation point on the end of their regular season with a 45-13 victory over their in-state rival, the Louisville Cardinals this past weekend. Wide receiver turned dual-threat quarterback Lynn Bowden Jr. put on quite the show against the Cardinals as a he broke and SEC single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 284 rushing yards and also set his career high with four touchdowns on 28 carries. Freshman running back Chris Rodriguez joined in on the fun with 125 rushing yards and a touchdown of his own on just nine carries. The Wildcats now await their bowl game announcement with the Taxslayer Gator Bowl, Belk Bowl, and Music City Bowl listed as the most likely destinations.
9. Mississippi State (6-6):
The Bulldogs are another team that has had a lot of ups and downs this season as they got off to a hot start and then suffered a brutal four-game losing streak in the middle of their season. Fortunately, they pulled things together when it mattered the most, capping off their season with a dramatic 21-20 Egg Bowl victory over Ole Miss to become bowl eligible. The Bulldogs were led by star running back Kylin Hill who finished with 132 rushing yards on 27 carries. Quarterback Garrett Schrader did a solid job of managing the game finishing 10/14 for 108 yards through the air while also rushing for two touchdowns. They will now wait to see where they will be playing for their bowl game with the Music City Bowl and Texas Bowl listed as potential destinations.
10. Missouri (6-6):
The Missouri Tigers are a team that disappointed me in regards to my expectations for them coming into this season, especially with the arrival of Clemson transfer Kelly Bryant at quarterback. However, the Tigers did finish their season off in a positive matter in a 24-14 victory on the road against Arkansas. With Kelly Bryant out due to injury and backup Connor Bazelak leaving in the second quarter due to injury, the Tigers struggled to get much done on offense. Third-string quarterback Taylor Powell threw for only 105 yards and a touchdown while also throwing one interception. On the ground, junior running back Larry Rountree III did a decent job of picking up the slack with 88 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Luckily, they played a terrible Arkansas team that couldn’t get anything going on offense themselves. While the Tigers are technically bowl eligible, their season is unfortunately over as they received a postseason ban for this season due to NCAA rules violations.
11. South Carolina (4-8):
South Carolina is a prime example of a team that is loaded with talent but just couldn’t pull it all together. It also didn’t help that they lost starting quarterback Jake Bentley at the beginning of the season. They ended their season in disappointing fashion in a 38-3 loss at home to the third-ranked Clemson Tigers. Freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski did a decent job this season taking over after the Bentley injury but struggled against the Tigers, throwing for only 105 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. To make matters worse, Trevor Lawrence torched the South Carolina secondary for 295 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. The Gamecocks now have their eyes set on the 2020 season as they will likely lose some key players to the draft and will be moving on with Hilinski as their starting quarterback after Bentley announced that he will be transferring for his final year of eligibility.
12. Ole Miss (4-8):
As I have said multiple times this season, the Rebels were a team that was sneaky competitive in the SEC but just simply couldn’t finish the job. They showed this once again this past week as an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a celebration led to a long field goal attempt in which they missed resulting in a 21-20 loss in the Egg Bowl to Mississippi State. The Rebels once again tried two different quarterbacks in this game. Freshman dual-threat quarterback John Rhys Plumlee started the game and threw for 121 yards while rushing for 34 yards and a touchdown. He was replaced by fellow freshman quarterback Matt Corral after being sacked three times in a drive and losing a costly fumble. Corral came in and completed 50% of his passes for 124 yards, one touchdown, and an interception. Heading into the 2020 season, the Rebels must figure out their quarterback situation. As of now, I like Plumlee as he showed that he can be electric at times with his dual-threat ability.
13. Vanderbilt (3-9):
Vanderbilt is another team in this conference that failed to meet my expectations. While I didn’t think they would be at the top of the conference by any means, I believed that they had the talent to put together some wins and possibly make a bowl game. They finished off their disappointing season with a 28-10 loss on the road against their in-state rival, the Tennessee Volunteers. Star running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn sat out the entire second half with a shoulder injury after rushing for only 13 yards on six carries in the first half. In his absence, they tried to pick up the slack with the passing game but senior quarterback Riley Neal was held to only 139 yards and a touchdown. With Vaughn likely leaving for the draft and Neal graduating, the Commodores must figure out who is going to give their team a spark heading into the 2020 season.
14. Arkansas (2-10):
As I have stated week after week, the Razorbacks were simply a bad football team this season. They capped off their terrible season with yet another loss as they fell to Missouri 24-14 at home. Star running back Rakeem Boyd finished his junior season with a decent game, rushing for 95 yards on 21 carries but failed to find the end zone. Junior quarterback Jack Lindsey was held to only 75 passing yards but did find the end zone twice for their only two scores and didn’t throw any interceptions. Heading into the 2020 season, the Razorbacks have a lot of improvements to make, starting with making a decision on their starting quarterback. They also will be hoping that Boyd will stay for his senior season instead of leaving for the draft so that they will at least have someone to build around.