Based upon their performances on-the-field so far this season:
1. Alabama 6-0 (3-0)
Despite their open date and Florida's impressive win over LSU, I still think the Tide are the team to beat in the SEC. Plus, their trip to Atlanta only has one really difficult stop: Baton Rouge (and it's looking less difficult every week). Last week: no. 1 (same).
2. Georgia 5-1 (2-1)
The Dawgs' only loss is to power-house Alabama, and their win over South Carolina is looking better and better. I still think UGA's win in Tempe really helps my perception of them as well. I was tempted to leave LSU ahead of Georgia, but i think that at least as we stand right now, UGA has better quality wins than LSU does (So. Carolina, Ariz. State, and Tenn. for Georgia versus LSU's Auburn and Miss. State wins). As for Florida, yes they demolished LSU (and looked to be in old form in doing so), but that's really their only quality win. And the Gators lost to Ole Miss in the Swamp (I know, it was a "fluke," but still, Ole Miss is not Alabama, Georgia's one loss). Last week: no. 3 (+1).
3. Florida 5-1 (3-1)
Honestly, I think LSU has better wins, but you can't rank a team higher when they've beaten the other one. At the same time, the Tebow we saw against the Bayou Bengals was much closer to Super-Heisman-Tebow from last year. The Gators still have the Cocktail Party and the feisty Fighting Roosters (though I think they should handle upstart Spurrier since it's in Gainesville), but LSU still has 'Bama. The Gators' will only meet the 'Tide this year if it's in Atlanta. Last week: no. 5 (+2).
4. LSU 5-1 (2-1)
I almost put Vanderbilt ahead of LSU, but then I remembered we both played Missisippi State and the Tigers won. Still, though, I like the Commodores' quality wins over LSU's (compare them yourself: LSU beat Appy State, Troy, N. Tex., Auburn, and Miss. State -- only one road win; VU beat Miami (Ohio), So. Carolina, Rice, Ole Miss, and Auburn -- and two of those wins were on the road). Still, I think the Tigers have a better shot of finishing out ahead, and (again) when comparing head-to-head teams-beaten, LSU wins over the 'Dores. Last week: no. 2 (-2).
5. Vanderbilt 5-1 (3-1)
The Commodores got upset, but so did Florida (and look where the Gators are now). OK, OK, so Vanderbilt isn't Florida. But, the Commodores have shown scrap this year, and I don't think it's time to count them out yet. They need a win soon, though. Beating Georgia sure would put some scratch on that Mississippi State itch, wouldn't it? Probably won't happen. And then the Duke game becomes a must-win scenario. I do not like the implications of that (we don't generally do well in must-win-or-die situations, now do we). Still, the odds are on Vandy's side with 6 games remaining: all we have to do is win 1 (and we haven't gone on a six-game losing streak since 2005 -- the year we started 4-0: our 5-0 start may save our butts this year). Last week: no. 4 (-1).
6. South Carolina 5-2 (2-2)
The Gamecocks sure look better this week after their win in Lexington. Spurrier has a little four-game streak going, and the folks in Columbia are (sort of) starting to believe again. Maybe Darth Visor hasn't lost his mojo? Hosting LSU will tell us just how far they've come -- I still think Arky is their best chance to go bowling. Last week: no. 6 (same).
7. Kentucky 4-2 (0-2)
I didn't want to put the Wildcats here, because one can see the beginning of what could be an ugly trend: Big Blue wins its first four (non-conference) games and then hits an ugly wall when the SEC season starts. However, the 'Cats host Arkansas this week, and I don't think that the Hogs' win on the Plains will translate into a streak when they land in the bluegrass. UK still has Florida (in Gainesville) and Georgia (in Lexington) ahead, but a bowl is still very much in the works for the 'Cats. Last week: no. 8 (+1).
8. Ole Miss 3-3 (1-2)
A week off for Nutt and his Rebs to prepare for 'Bama means that Saban had better be feverishly studying that Florida game film. I don't think Ole Miss has to beat Alabama, but that sure would go a long way toward helping this program, teetering on the edge of success, into finding it for sure. Even if they don't, however, Ole Miss has a bowling shot if they can pick off Arkansas and Miss. State (assuming they beat La. Monroe). Last week: no. 9 (+1).
9. Arkansas 3-3 (1-3)
Well that win over Auburn sure does help the Hogs look a lot, lot better, doesn't it? A game in Lexington this week should be close if the Hogs can muster the sort of game they played on the Plains. Otherwise, it may look more like their trip to Austin (UK, after all, can score quite a bit). Still, though, the Razorbacks have a very favorable schedule for the remainder of the year: Ky., Miss., Tulsa, So. Carolina, Miss. State, and LSU. I see at least 4 winnable games there; I wouldn't count them out against South Carolina completely. And who knows? Even LSU could be vulnerable by the end of the year -- and the game's in Little Rock. Last week: no. 12 (+3).
10. Auburn 4-3 (2-3)
So I recognize that Auburn has a better record than Mississippi, but here's my logic: the Rebs have a legit shot at making a bowl, and they're a team on the up-swing. Auburn could legitimately have a losing season, and their game against West Virginia is not going to be pretty. We'll see how they do on their trips to Oxford and Morgantown, but aside from Tennessee-Martin (that's right, UT Martin), the War-Eagling Tigers don't have any "sure wins" left on their schedule. And folks, if UT Martin is their only win from here on out, then that's 5 wins. No bowl for you. Last week: no. 7 (-3).
11. Mississippi State 2-4 (1-2)
Well, everyone predicted that upset of the soaring Commodores, but that's the Bulldogs' only quality win. I think that if the Dawgs were hosting the Big Orange in Starkville, they'd have another chance at an SEC win. With the game in Knoxville, though, and with the Vawls in straight-up Red Alert Terror Threat, I don't know if they can pull it off (Yew Tee did keep the game in Athens interesting, and I do not know that State could do that). I'm afraid that the Bulldogs won't be making it to a bowl this year, because in order to do so, they'd have to win out (Yew Tee, Middle Teasy, Ky., Ala., Ark., and Miss.). It's doable, but not by this team this year (then again, 6-6 is possible with wins over Tenn., Middle Tenn., Ark., and Miss.). Last week: no. 11 (same).
12. Tennessee 2-4 (0-3)
Dead last in the Southeastern Conference are your Tennessee Volunteers! No matter how Vanderbilt does with the rest of the season, there's a good chance that if nothing else, we'll finish higher than Yew Tee this year, and get to enjoy schadenfreude until next August. I think Neyland Stadium will overawe the Dawgs (from Starkville) this week, but the only "sure win" left on the slate for Phat Phil are the Wyoming Cowboys in Knoxville: Miss. State, Ala., S. Carolina, Wyo., Vanderbilt, and Ky. Last week: no. 10 (-2).