All notions of a top-heavy SEC took a seat on Saturday when the entire conference, it seemed, got turned on its head.
Missouri claimed a two-game lead in the SEC East courtesy of its victory over Florida teamed with a pair of upsets leaving Georgia and South Carolina with their second conference losses.
Of the so-called SEC powers, only Alabama got through with its record intact. The Crimson Tide rolled to an easy 52-0 win over an Arkansas team that looks worse by the week.
Upsets Galore Saturday saw Ole Miss and Tennessee kick game-winning field goals as time expired. Vanderbilt, with help from Georgia’s self-destructive special teams play, took down the Bulldogs. Auburn landed perhaps the biggest blow to the SEC race, knocking off Texas A&M at Kyle Field.
Let’s take a look at Week 8 in this week’s SEC Rewind.
Week 8 Results
Vanderbilt 31, No. 15 Georgia 27
Tennessee 23, No. 11 South Carolina 21
No. 14 Missouri 36, No. 22 Florida 17
No. 24 Auburn 45, No. 7 Texas A&M 41
Ole Miss 27, No. 6 LSU 24
No. 1 Alabama 52, Arkansas 0
Byes: Kentucky, Mississippi State
Uprising of bottom of the league
Until Missouri beat Georgia in Athens two weeks ago, the collection of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, South Carolina and Texas A&M had won 44 consecutive games against the other eight teams in the SEC. Such dominance led to Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and many, many more to label the SEC as a top-heavy league. Go ahead and throw that idea out the window after this weekend. Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Missouri, Auburn and Ole Miss all scored wins over the SEC establishment programs over the weekend. Only Alabama, which hammered Arkansas to the tune of 52-0 on Saturday, survived the weekend unscathed. Aside from Crimson Tide dominance, the conference is as wide-open as ever in 2013.
Auburn winning at Texas A&M
Of all the in-conference upsets, arguably the biggest came from a ranked team. Auburn entered the weekend as the biggest underdog – and the only road team – among the five programs to beat SEC powers. The Tigers racked up the points, and rushing yards, en route to shaking up the SEC West race. Coach Gus Malzahn deserves a ton of credit turning around a program that went 3-9 a year ago. Auburn’s defense certainly won’t remind anybody of Alabama’s this weekend, but the Tigers did enough to score the upset victory, including sacking A&M QB Johnny Manziel on the final fourth-down try of the contest.
LSU QB Zach Mettenberger’s first-half offensive performance
It wasn’t so much an ability to move the ball that caused LSU first-half problems. The Tigers gained 174 total yards of offense – hardly staggering, but nothing about which to panic. Mettenberger, however, struggled. The senior who had previously avoided the turnover woes that plagued him in 2012 threw 3 INTs on five first-half possessions. LSU punted on the other two series.
RB Tre Mason – Auburn
Auburn’s workhorse tailback ran for 178 yards and the game-winning TD on 27 tries. Mason paced the Tigers on their way to 379 rushing yards during the upset win at Texas A&M.
WR Mike Evans – Texas A&M
There wasn’t a better player in the SEC than Evans on Saturday. QB Johnny Manziel’s favorite receiver was unstoppable, catching 11 passes for 287 yards and 4 TDs.
DE Michael Sam – Missouri
Sam scored 3 sacks in Missouri’s win over Florida. More importantly, Sam was the engine in a pass rush that harassed Gators QB Tyler Murphy into enough mistakes to allow the Tigers to claim another huge divisional victory.
RB Henry Josey – Missouri
This helmet sticker might as well go to the entire Missouri offensive line as well. The Tigers ran the ball directly at Florida, hands-down the best rush defense entering play Saturday. Josey had the best results, toting it 18 times for 136 yards and a TD.
QB Nick Marshall – Auburn
The completion percentage wasn’t pretty – and Marshall left some open passes on the field – but he threw for 236 yards and 2 TDs, and added 100 rushing yards and 2 more TDs. Not bad for someone who missed the previous game with a knee injury.
DT Daniel McCullers – Tennessee
The Tennessee defense has needed someone to emerge in the middle of that line. McCullers answered the call in helping the Volunteers score the upset over South Carolina, registering 6 tackles, including 2.5 TFLs and half a sack.
RB Jaylen Walton – Ole Miss
Prior to Saturday’s game against LSU, Walton had just 34 rushes the entire season. RB Jeff Scott’s injury pressed Walton into action. The sophomore responded with 106 yards and 2 TDs on 19 carries, adding 24 receiving yards as well in the Rebels’ 27-24 victory.
QB Maty Mauk – Missouri
Don’t go overboard on Mauk. The freshman made several during his collegiate debut, but lived to tell about it with 295 yards passing and 2 total TDs. His effort against a defense that entered statistically as the best in the league helped Missouri claim a two-game lead in the SEC East race.
WR Marquez North – Tennessee
No Tennessee receiver this season had really shown the ability to be called the go-to guy with the game on the line. North changed that with a highlight catch on a 48-yard completion that set up the Volunteers’ game-winning field goal. The freshman had just three receptions, but they totaled 102 yards. His one big play alone puts him on this list.
QB Johnny Manziel – Texas A&M
Bruised and battered, Manziel did his part for the Aggies on Saturday. He threw for 454 yards and 4 TDs, rushing for an extra 48 yards and another TD in the loss to Auburn.
RB Mike Davis – South Carolina
The SEC’s leading rusher did his part on Saturday, going for 137 yards and a TD on 21 carries in South Carolina’s loss at Tennessee.
RBs T.J. Yeldon, Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry – Alabama
It didn’t matter who carried the ball for the top-ranked Crimson Tide on Saturday. Yeldon, Drake and Henry combined for 303 yards and 4 TDs on just 26 attempts, beating Arkansas into submission.
Topics: Alabama Crimson Tide, Arkansas Razorbacks, Auburn Tigers, Florida Gators, Georgia Bulldogs, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana State Tigers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, Ole Miss Rebels, SEC, South Carolina Gamecocks, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Vanderbilt Commodores