Show-Me State Magic: Mizzou atop Crazy SEC East
The SEC East went full-speed schizophrenic this weekend, as South Carolina, Georgia and Florida fell to Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Missouri, respectively. While Missouri's 36-17 win over Florida is technically not an upset in the way that the Tennessee and Vandy wins were, the result would still be considered a surprise given that the Tigers lost starting quarterback James Franklin late last Saturday in their upset of Georgia, and were so dominant. Behind first time starter Maty Mauk, who threw a 41 yard completion on the game's first play, the Tigers out-gained Florida 500-151 and led the entire game. It was the first time the Florida defense has been so torched in a long time, having held opponents below 21 points for 14 straight games.
As a result of all this madness, Mizzou is now atop the division, two games clear of Georgia, Florida and South Carolina in the loss column. The Tigers host the South Gamecocks in a week, in a game that astonishingly could go a long way toward deciding who will advance to the SEC Title Game.
Those same Gamecocks seemed to be in a great position heading into today's games, having thrashed Arkansas on the road last week 52-7 while Georgia and Florida were losing games and Mizzou was losing Franklin. It was the Gamecocks's first complete performance of the season, and seemd to give them momentum heading to Knoxville. This was not the case. Aside from outstanding play from Jadeveon Clowney, the first half was a comedy of Gamecock errors - including, according to Steve Spurrier in the halftime TV interview, dubious coaching and quarterbacking decisions - as Tennessee led 17-7. South Carolina rallied to lead briefly 21-17, but the Vols tacked on Michael Palardy field goals on successive possessions for the victory. The game winner was a 19-yarder as time expired - set up by an astonishing 39-yard, one-handed reception by freshman Marquez North.
Meanwhile, Georgia was unable to take advantage of these results, falling to Vanderbilt as the Commodores scored the games final 17 points in the last 6:24 for a 31-27 upset win. The game winner was a 13 yard run by Jerron Seymour with 2:53 left. While it took the furious rally in the final moments, the Commodores dominated play all afternoon, holding the ball for more than 35 minutes and outgaining the Dogs 337-221.
It was Vandy's first win over Georgia in Nashville since 1991, and the first in six meetings overall.
This leaves Missouri in the driver's seat in the SEC East, and the Tigers can really put a vice grip on the division if they can handle South Carolina this coming Saturday. If the Gamecocks - who may have now lost their starting quarterback to injury -can win, it puts them back into contention as Missouri has Texas A&M and Ole Miss to face down the road, the Gamecocks get a shot at Florida, and of course Georgia and Florida have their annual get together in Jacksonville.
This may all end up with Missouri on top, and deservedly so. Not only did all three eastern favorites get beat today, they all three got dominated. Yes, the SEC East is somewhat upside down today - but it may not change from here on out either.