Ga. game should expose LSU's inflated ranking

Ga. game should expose LSU's inflated ranking

Published Oct. 2, 2009 4:59 p.m. ET

Let's get the undisputed fact out of the way: The SEC has two very good teams, arguably (with apologies to Texas) the two best in the country.

Now for the debatable point, the one most people outside of Louisiana seem to acknowledge: What the SEC does not have right now is the fourth-best team in the country, or the fifth, or maybe even the sixth. Last week, Ole Miss was ranked a cotton-candy eighth, but its "upset" loss to South Carolina showed it to be all sugar and air. This week, LSU will likely (and finally) be exposed as a fourth-ranked poser, a good, not great team that has ridden the updraft of a silly preseason ranking and a strong conference reputation. The Tigers should have lost to Mississippi State. But for a third-down Dan Mullen brain lock on the goal line with a minute to play, the Tigers would be 3-1 and nowhere to be found in the national conversation. Now, they're ranked right behind Florida, Texas and Alabama, and even the most ardent LSU fans are saying, "Yeah, we're probably overrated."

The Georgia game will likely prove it once and for all.

Not that Georgia is under-ranked. At 18th with three close wins after looking terrible against Oklahoma State, the Bulldogs are right where they should be, 3-1 and trending in the right direction. Quarterback Joe Cox is a workmanlike 60 percent passer and second in the nation in completions over 20 yards. And a defense that wasn't able to stop anybody in the first three weeks has finally stiffened, holding Arizona State to minus-13 yards in a tight fourth quarter.

The same can't be said for the Tigers. With the 105th-ranked offense in the country and a defense that has allowed 333 yards a game (ranked 48th), even Les Miles knows his team has to step it up.

"We've got a lot to prove," Miles said. "The responsibility of a team at 4-0 is to win next week. Whatever you've accomplished in those four weeks, you have to continue to make work, but then those things where there is a malfunction or non-execution, that's where you have to grow and seek attention and change practice schedules and work it. Certainly we're doing that. Four games in, there's a lot left to accomplish."