September 20, 2022 8:00 am CT
Week 3 ultimately proved to be a bit calmer after the craziness that was Week 2.
In the SEC, things were relatively quiet. LSU and Georgia began conference play with wins over Mississippi State and South Carolina respectively, while Ole Miss demolished Georgia Tech and Auburn took a blowout home loss to a ranked Penn State team that will almost certainly turn up the heat on coach Bryan Harsin.
We’re now already a quarter of the way through the 2022 season, and with most teams having played at least one conference game, we’re starting to get a better idea of how things shake up in the league.
Here are our SEC power rankings after Week 3.
Vanderbilt Commodores (3-1)
Previous Ranking: 14
Week 3 Result: W 38-28 at Northern Illinois
The Skinny: Credit to the Commodores for fighting back in this one. They overcame a 14-point second-half deficit to beat a solid Group of Five team on the road. It may not be the most impressive result, but coach Clark Lea’s team has already exceeded last year’s win total. You could convince me that Vandy is not the worst team in the league, but it will stay on the bottom until this regime earns its first SEC win.
Missouri Tigers (2-1)
Previous Ranking: 13
Week 3 Result: W 34-17 vs. Abilene Christian
The Skinny: This game wasn’t really as close as the score may lead you to believe, and it was never in doubt for the Tigers. They played fine, but there’s not much reason to be inspired about this team. Perhaps a road trip to Auburn to face a potential lame-duck coach could be just what Mizzou and coach Eli Drinkwitz need.
Auburn Tigers (2-1)
Previous Ranking: 12
Week 3 Result: L 41-12 vs. No. 22 Penn State
The Skinny: Hosting a Big Ten team at Jordan-Hare Stadium for the first time, Auburn was exposed against the Nittany Lions. Nicholas Singleton had a huge day on the ground for PSU, and the Tigers were outscored 27-6 in the second half. AU may be good enough to beat Missouri at home next week, but upcoming games against LSU, Georgia and Ole Miss don’t bode well for Harsin’s future. This thing could be winding down to a conclusion in the next few weeks.
South Carolina Gamecocks (1-2, 0-2 SEC)
Previous Ranking: 10
Week 3 Result: L 48-7 vs. No. 1 Georgia
The Skinny: It was a pretty ugly performance on Saturday against the Bulldogs, and the Gamecocks needed a late touchdown to avoid a shutout. We won’t hold that against them too much — Georgia does that to everyone. USC is 1-2 with losses to two of the league’s stronger teams, so it’s not necessarily panic time. Still, the Spencer Rattler experiment is not going great, and Shane Beamer’s team doesn’t seem to have taken the kind of leap some thought it was capable of.
Florida Gators (2-1, 0-1 SEC)
Previous Ranking: 7
Week 3 Result: W 31-28 vs. South Florida
The Skinny: It’s hard to believe this team beat Utah just two weeks ago. There was nothing deceptive about this score, and Florida was frankly lucky to win it. It needed two fourth-quarter interceptions (one of which was returned for a touchdown), a bad snap on the Bulls’ final drive and a bad hold on what would have been the game-tying field goal to send it to overtime. UF’s offense looks completely out of sorts, and quarterback Anthony Richardson appears very uncomfortable in the pocket. This team needs to solve its problems quickly if it wants to avoid losing in Knoxville for just the third time since 2004 this weekend.
Mississippi State Bulldogs (2-1, 0-1 SEC)
Previous Ranking: 6
Week 3 Result: L 31-16 at LSU
The Skinny: It’s never easy to win a night game in Death Valley, but this still feels like a missed opportunity for the Bulldogs. The offense was surprisingly ineffective and had its worst performance since 2020, while the veteran defense got worn down in the second half. This may be a solid team still, but Saturday night was a significant setback.
Texas A&M Aggies (2-1)
Previous Ranking: 9
Week 3 Result: W 17-9 vs. No. 9 Miami
The Skinny: The offense still looked like a bit of a mess after switching to Max Johnson at quarterback, and Miami may have been overrated as a top-10 team, but this was still an impressive bounce-back for the Aggies. Winning top-10 games is Good, but TAMU was outgained this week once again. It’s hard to feel great about where this team is positioned heading into SEC play, especially with the opener coming against a good Arkansas team.
LSU Tigers (2-1, 1-0 SEC)
Previous Ranking: 11
Week 3 Result: W 31-16 vs. Mississippi State
The Skinny: Perhaps this LSU team was written off a bit too soon. The Tigers played a very complete game on Saturday night, with the defensive performance specifically looking a lot less sloppy than it did against Florida State. The offense didn’t do anything spectacular, but the ground game was effective, Jayden Daniels took care of the ball through the air and special teams came up with a huge turnover. It doesn’t mean this team will contend in the West, but Brian Kelly’s team seemed to take a big step forward in his SEC debut.
Ole Miss Rebels (3-0)
Previous Ranking: 8
Week 3 Result: W 42-0 at Georgia Tech
The Skinny: The Rebels blanked a bad Yellow Jackets team on the road on Saturday despite another mediocre performance from quarterback Jaxon Dart. The ground game was electric, though, exceeding 300 yards in large part thanks to a huge performance from TCU transfer Zach Evans. This team still looks very competent, especially defensively, but the quarterback play has been a bit concerning through the first three games.
Arkansas Razorbacks (3-0, 1-0 SEC)
Previous Ranking: 4
Week 3 Result: W 38-27 vs. Missouri State
The Skinny: This one was way too close for comfort for the Hogs. Facing former coach Bobby Petrino’s Missouri State team, Arkansas had to dig itself out of an early 17-0 hole and come back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit. I’m sure the Bears were fired up for this one, but it’s not what you want to see from a team ranked in the top 10.
Tennessee Volunteers (3-0)
Previous Ranking: 5
Week 3 Result: W 63-6 vs. Akron
The Skinny: There wasn’t much to learn from a beatdown against a MAC team, but it was another routine blowout for the Vols this week. It’s hard to tell how good the win over Pittsburgh last weekend was, but we’ll know a lot more about this team after Saturday when Florida comes to town. This rivalry has been lopsided in the Gators’ favor in recent years, but Tennessee looks like the much better team right now. This is a game it needs to win at Neyland Stadium.
Kentucky Wildcats (3-0, 1-0 SEC)
Previous Ranking: 3
Week 3 Result: W 31-0 vs. Youngstown State
The Skinny: Much like the Vols, it’s hard to draw grand conclusions from Kentucky’s Week 3 performance, but it was the Wildcats’ first shutout win since 2009, so there’s that. There are a few concerns, though, and Will Levis threw two interceptions. Chris Rodriguez Jr. also is still yet to make his return as two more games were added to his suspension. He is expected to return for UK’s next SEC contest on the road against Ole Miss on Oct. 1.
Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0)
Previous Ranking: 2
Week 3 Result: W 63-7 vs. Louisiana-Monroe
The Skinny: It was the blowout many expected to see from the Tide after their close call against Texas, but it wasn’t all great. Defending Heisman winner Bryce Young threw a pair of interceptions in this game, and Alabama looks at least somewhat vulnerable. Not this week, though, as Vanderbilt comes to Tuscaloosa for a night game.
Georgia Bulldogs (3-0, 1-0 SEC)
Previous Ranking: 1
Week 3 Result: W 48-7 at South Carolina
The Skinny: The machine kept rolling for the No. 1 team in the country on Saturday in UGA’s SEC opener against a hapless South Carolina team. There’s not really much to say about the Bulldogs. They look like the most complete team in the country and should be the favorite to repeat as champions. Stetson Bennett IV may also find himself in the Heisman discussion as the season progresses.