THE RATING GAME

1. LSU (2-0)

Last week: 1st

Tigers don’t ring cowbells, just shake Bulldogs until they make tinkling sound like broken glass.

2. Alabama (2-0)

Last week: 2nd

No truth to rumor Nick Saban spent second half of Penn State game measuring Joe Paterno’s office.

3. Arkansas (2-0)

Last week: 5th

Good news: Razorbacks meet insurance deductable. Bad news: they travel to Bama next week.

4. S. Carolina (2-0, 1-0)

Last week : 3rd

With game looming, Navy refuses to launch air-sea search for S.C.’s lost defense off Hilton Head.

5. Auburn (2-0, 1-0)

Last week: 8th

Gene Chizik may be flat boring, but his team is playing wildly dramatic football.

6. Florida (2-0)

Last week: 6th

Good friends Muschamp, Dooley meet for first time ...

7. Tennessee (2-0)

Last week: 7th

... winner gets Muschamp’s half of beach house he owns with Jimbo Fisher.

8. Miss. State (1-1, 0-1)

Last week: 4th

Ballard, Bulldogs offense, brilliant. State’s defense? Bad dog.

9. Vanderbilt (2-0)

Last week: 10th

Ole Miss has no chance winning at Fortress Nashville. Did I really just write that?

10. Kentucky (2-0)

Last week: 11th

UK’s 2-0 record a joke, but Cats may laugh all the way to 3-0 against Louisville.

11. Ole Miss (1-1)

Last week: 12th

Fearing the force won’t be with them at Vandy, Rebels order light sabers from Jedi.

12. Georgia (0-2, 0-1)

Last week: 9th

Jimmy Buffett to pen emergency ballad about Coastal Carolina to soothe Mark Richt’s troubled brow.

THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE

Thursday’s game

No. 3 LSU (2-0) at No. 25 Mississippi State (1-1, 0-1), 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Saturday’s games

No. 21 Auburn (2-0, 1-0) at Clemson (2-0), 11 a.m. (ABC)

Ole Miss (1-1) at Vanderbilt (2-0), 11:21 a.m. (WAFB, ESPN3.com)

Coastal Carolina (2-0) at Georgia (0-2, 0-1), noon (PPV, ESPN3.com)

Tennessee (2-0) at No. 16 Florida (2-0), 2:30 p.m. (CBS)

Navy (2-0) at No. 10 South Carolina (2-0, 1-0), 5 p.m. (ESPN2)

Louisville (1-1) at Kentucky (2-0), 6 p.m. (ESPNU)

North Texas (0-2) at No. 2 Alabama (2-0), 6:30 p.m. (FSHOU, ESPN3.com)

Troy (0-1) at No. 14 Arkansas (2-0), 6:30 p.m. (CSS, ESPN3.com)

All times Central

GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 3 LSU at No. 25 Miss. State, 7 p.m. Thursday, Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field, Starkville, Miss. (ESPN): The annual September showdown between Tennessee and Florida may be grabbing center stage on CBS, but the weekend gets started with the only battled of ranked teams in the SEC with the Tigers and Bulldogs. These are desperate hours for State, which must avoid going 0-2 in conference to have any shot in the SEC West. LSU must win to remain firmly among the BCS title contenders. This shapes up as a battle of strength vs. strength between LSU’s SEC-leading rush defense (45.5 ypg) and State’s SEC-leading rushing offense (321.0 ypg). The Tigers have won 11 straight in the series.

AROUND THE SEC

SEC has NCAA-leading 7 teams in AP poll: Alabama, LSU, South Carolina, Arkansas, Florida, Auburn, Miss. State. ... South Carolina up one spot to No. 10 after AP miscounted two ballots. ... SEC is 18-2 in non-conference games, including 8-0 last week. It’s the first time since Sept. 11, 1999 SEC went unbeaten in at least 8 non-conference games. ... Auburn’s Cody Parkey leads SEC with 8 touchbacks in two games. ... James Franklin first Vandy coach to start 2-0 since 1975. ... Arkansas’ 103 points in the first two games are its most in 100 years (165 points, 1911).

Scott Rabalais