Kernel Sports SEC poll: football week 5


Jack Weaver

Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Will Levis (7) throws a pass during the No. 20 Kentucky vs. No. 12 Florida football game on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. UK won 26-16. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Sports Staff

The Kentucky Kernel Sports SEC Poll is a weekly series that provides all members of the Kentucky Kernel Sports desk a chance to vote on how the SEC football teams stack up against each other using the AP Poll style/Borda count voting method.

Each voter filled out an individual form ranking all teams 1-14 and teams received points based on their placement on each bracket.

Votes are the personal opinions of individual writers and do not reflect the opinions of the Kentucky Kernel as a whole.

This week’s poll is counting all week four matchups, starting on Sept. 20 and ending on Sept. 26.

This week’s voters include:
Sports Editor Cole Parke, Assistant Sports Editors Samantha Money and Ali Cetinok and Reporters Aaron Benjamin, Luke Fetzer, Drew Johnson, Ian Alvano, Tyler Russell and Isaiah Pinto.

No. 14: Missouri Tigers (15 points)

Record: 2-2 (0-1)

Last game: 17-14 overtime loss at Auburn

“A loss to a bad team in Auburn and getting dominated by Kansas State does not look good early in the season,” Benjamin said.

“They’re simply a struggling team that can’t win football games,” Russell said. “(They) can’t put up points.”

“Not a good team, end of story,” Cetinok said. “Getting to bowl eligibility may be a struggle.”

Votes cast: four No. 14 votes (Benjamin, Cetinok, Russell, Money), four No. 13 votes (Parke, Fetzer, Johnson, Pinto) and one No. 12 vote (Alvano).

No. 13: Vanderbilt Commodores (16 points)

Record: 3-2 (0-1)

Last game: 55-3 loss at No. 2 Alabama

“A 2-0 start to the season can only do so much,” Alvano said. “Vandy will need to sneak out some wins later in the season to have a successful year.”

“I pity Vanderbilt,” Fetzer said. “They are the runt of the litter. Getting blown out against Alabama was hard to watch, and later games won’t be much better (Ole Miss, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky).”

“Freshman quarterback AJ Swann was playing with confidence before Alabama happened,” Cetinok said. “(But) I am still confident Vandy will win a league game this year.”

Votes cast: five No. 14 votes (Parke, Pinto, Alvano, Fetzer, Johnson), two No. 13 votes (Money, Benjamin), one No. 12 vote (Cetinok) and one No. 11 vote (Russell).

TIE No. 11: South Carolina Gamecocks (35 points)

Record: (2-2)* (0-2)

Last game: 56-20 win over Charlotte*

“Won by 36 at home,” Russell said. “Their rushing game has helped a lot, but Rattler hasn’t looked hot. USC’s season has been nothing short of disappointing.”

“USC got absolutely put in its place by Georgia,” Cetinok said. “Luckily for the Gamecocks their next opponent is South Carolina State before coming to Lexington so they can avoid three straight losses.”

“South Carolina, much like Florida, has not shown a lot to stand out from the crowd,” Benjamin said. “Two losses to ranked SEC opponents help its cause a little, but a win against the Hogs would have helped it jump a few spots.”

Votes cast: three No. 12 votes (Russell, Fetzer, Pinto), four No. 11 votes (Parke, Alvano, Johnson, Cetinok), two No. 10 votes (Money, Benjamin).

*By time of publishing, South Carolina has played and defeated SC State, but this game will be factored into next week’s rankings.

TIE No. 11: Auburn Tigers (35 points)

Record: 3-1 (1-0)

Last game: 17-14 overtime win against Missouri

“Auburn is a mess,” Cetinok said. “There is no momentum in the program at all despite beating Missouri, which is not hard to do.”

“They were lucky to win against Missouri,” Money said.

“Auburn is just mediocre,” Fetzer said. “After getting blown out by Penn State, its only big opponent so far, Auburn is heading into an SEC schedule with three straight top 25 conference opponents. It could get ugly for the Tigers.”

Votes cast: two No. 13 votes (Russell, Cetinok), three No. 12 votes (Johnson, Parke, Benjamin), one No. 11 vote (Money), one No. 10 vote (Alvano), one No. 9 vote (Fetzer) and one No. 8 vote (Pinto).

No. 10: Mississippi State Bulldogs (44 points)

Record: 3-1 (0-1)

Last game: 45-14 win over Bowling Green

“I’m not a believer of what is going on in Starkville,” Alvano said. “I don’t think Mississippi State will make a bowl game.”

“Will Rogers is playing well at quarterback and this needs to continue for State,” Cetinok said. “They took a tough loss to LSU but had no hangover in taking care of Bowling Green. The Bulldogs have a big opportunity with A&M coming to Starkville.”

“I am very partial to the game of Will Rogers,” Parke said. “I may be overrating Mississippi State but, for now, I’m okay with that.”

Votes cast: one No. 13 vote (Alvano), three No. 11 votes (Fetzer, Benjamin, Pinto), one No. 10 vote (Johnson), three No. 9 votes (Russell, Money, Cetinok) and one No. 8 vote (Parke).

No. 9: Florida Gators (49 points)

Record: 2-2 (0-2)

Last game: 38-33 loss at No. 11 Tennessee

“Simply shouldn’t have been No. 12 after beating Utah,” Parke said. “They’re not a top half SEC team this year, but nobody should have expected them to be. UF has a new coach and a lot of young players, it’s a year for learning.”

“[Florida] has the hardest schedule in the NCAA and are still a great team,” Johnson said.

“So overrated,” Money, a former Florida native, said.

Votes cast: one No. 12 vote (Money), four No. 10 votes (Russell, Fetzer, Pinto, Cetinok), three No. 9 votes (Alvano, Parke, Benjamin) and one No. 7 vote (Johnson).

No. 8: LSU Tigers (63 points)

Record: 3-1 (1-0)

Last game: 38-0 win over New Mexico

“The Florida State loss was rough, but in the three games since they’ve held their opponents under 20 points,” Fetzer said. “They have a tough stretch coming up, but they have the momentum right now.”

“LSU looks like a decent team, but not one that can compete with the top dogs in the SEC,” Benjamin said. “It just doesn’t have the same feel as some of the other teams.”

“The week one loss to Florida State looks better and better the more FSU wins,” Parke said. “Perhaps we judged LSU too harshly too early on, but I still don’t think it’s in any position to compete for the division.”

Votes cast: one No. 10 vote (Parke), two No. 9 votes (Pinto, Johnson), three No. 8 votes (Benjamin, Cetinok, Money), two No. 7 votes (Alvano, Russell) and one No. 6 vote (Fetzer).

No. 7: Arkansas Razorbacks (74 points)

Record: 3-1 (1-1)

Last game: 23-21 loss at No. 23 Texas A&M

“Arkansas is a good team that was undefeated before the unfortunate doink that happened in last week’s loss,” Benjamin said. “I think they are a solid team, but that loss keeps them out of my top five.”

“After a heartbreaking loss in College Station last week, Arkansas was just a field goal away from being ranked third in my ranking,” Cetinok said. “Sadly, the ball doesn’t lie.”

“Arkansas absolutely could not lose last week, yet it did,” Alvano said. “The SEC West is a tough place to play and that’s a bad start for the Hogs.”

Votes cast: three No. 8 votes (Alvano, Russell, Fetzer), one No. 7 vote (Cetinok) and five No. 6 votes (Parke, Benjamin, Pinto, Money, Johnson).

No. 6: Texas A&M Aggies (77 points)

Record: 3-1 (1-0)

Last game: 23-21 win over No. 10 Arkansas

“Huge win for the Aggies over the weekend against Arkansas,” Money said. “I think they are quietly working their way back up the rankings.”

“That recruiting class speaks for itself,” Parke said. “The loss to App State hurts, but I refuse to let that one loss speak for the Aggies’ season as a whole.”

“The Appalachian State loss looked awful, and they barely beat Arkansas,” Johnson said.

Votes cast: one No. 8 vote (Johnson), four No. 7 votes (Parke, Benjamin, Pinto, Fetzer), two No. 6 votes (Cetinok, Alvano) and two No. 5 votes (Russell, Money).

No. 5: Ole Miss Rebels (88 points)

Record: 4-0 (0-0)

Last game: 35-27 win over Tulsa

“This one could change this weekend,” Parke said. “That said, barring its matchup with Tulsa, Ole Miss has done nothing but decimate everyone it has played.”

“Ole Miss thus far has done exactly what they are supposed to have done,” Cetinok said. “With an electric run game with Quinshon Judkins and TCU transfer Zach Evans, what chance does it have against an elite defensive line from UK? We will see.”

“Ole Miss has had some shaky games, but there’s still a lot of potential,” Money said.

Votes cast: one No. 7 vote (Money), one No. 6 vote (Russell), six No. 5 votes (Benjamin, Pinto, Alvano, Fetzer, Johnson, Cetinok) and one No. 4 vote (Parke).

No. 4: Kentucky Wildcats (99 points)

Record: 4-0 (1-0)

Last game: 31-23 win over Northern Illinois

“They are undefeated with a quality road win at Florida,” Benjamin said. “They have looked up to the task so far this season.”

“Each week the win against Florida looks less and less impressive,” Cetinok said. “Will Levis will need better decision-making and accuracy if this team wants to make it to Atlanta. This week against Ole Miss is a much bigger test than Florida, so we’ll really see what this team is made of.”

“The Cats are No. 7 overall in the current AP Poll, but they’ve had a lot of flaws in their game this season. I just need to see more from them,” Parke said.

Votes cast: one No. 5 vote (Parke), seven No. 4 votes (Pinto, Alvano, Russell, Fetzer, Johnson, Money, Cetinok) and one No. 3 vote (Benjamin).

No. 3: Tennessee Volunteers (107 points)

Record: 4-0 (1-0)

Last game: 38-33 win over No. 20 Florida

“Tennessee is legit,” Fetzer said. “While the Florida game was a little too close for comfort, UT showed true polish and finished it off. The Vols truly look like a threatening football team.”

“Is Hendon Hooker a Heisman candidate? I think yes,” Cetinok said. “Especially if Tennessee can secure important victories in a brutal stretch of games with road games against LSU and Georgia and home games against Alabama and Kentucky. After that Tennessee would either be the No. 1 team in the country or even unranked.”

“They’ve been solid,” Benjamin said. “They’re also 4-0 similar to Kentucky, but they haven’t gone head-to-head so I can’t rank them higher (on my ballot).”

Votes cast: one No. 4 vote (Benjamin) and eight No. 3 votes (Parke, Pinto, Alvano, Russell, Fetzer, Johnson, Money, Cetinok)

No. 2: Alabama Crimson Tide (118 points)

Record: 4-0 (1-0)

Last game: 55-3 win over Vanderbilt

“While still undefeated, they stumbled in the past weeks,” Fetzer said. “Still a dual threat powerhouse on both sides of the ball.”

“Alabama is still a great team, but it feels like we’ve yet to see the Bama we’re used to in the past,” Money said.

“Undefeated and just a powerhouse,” Russell said. “Put up 55 on Vanderbilt while Georgia allowed Kent State to score 22 on them.”

Votes cast: eight No. 2 votes (Parke, Benjamin, Pinto, Alvano, Fetzer, Johnson, Money, Cetinok) and one No. 1 vote (Russell).

No. 1: Georgia Bulldogs (125 points)

Record: 4-0 (1-0)

Last game: 39-22 win over Kent State

“Still undefeated and still a powerhouse, but No. 2 on my bracket because Kent State scored 22 on them,” Russell said.

“Coming off a down week but that doesn’t matter,” Alvano said. “This is the best team in the country.”

“They’re in another league of their own,” Pinto said. “The Oregon game was insane.”

Votes cast: one No. 2 vote (Russell) and eight No. 1 votes (Parke, Benjamin, Pinto, Alvano, Fetzer, Johnson, Money, Cetinok)