The 2013 SEC regular season went out with a bang this past weekend.
Auburn’s thrilling upset of Alabama provided the most incredible finish of the year, and arguably the greatest ending in college football history.
After having to battle hard through the very last weekend, Missouri finally punched its ticket to the SEC Championship Game with a victory over Texas A&M.
LSU got a glimpse at its promising future quarterback, freshman Anthony Jennings, in a win over Arkansas, and Mississippi State overcame Ole Miss for the upset in the Egg Bowl.
Here’s a look at this week’s SEC Power Rankings, followed by the Wall Street-inspired Stock Report:
1. Auburn (11-1, 7-1)
2. Missouri (11-1, 7-1)
3. Alabama (11-1, 7-1)
4. South Carolina (10-2, 6-2)
5. LSU (9-3, 5-3)
6. Georgia (8-4, 5-3)
7. Vanderbilt (8-4, 4-4)
8. Texas A&M (8-4, 4-4)
9. Mississippi State (6-6, 3-5)
10. Ole Miss (7-5, 3-5)
11. Florida (4-8, 3-5)
12. Tennessee (5-7, 2-6)
13. Kentucky (2-10, 0-8)
14. Arkansas (3-9, 0-8)
Gus Malzahn’s Tigers shocked the college football world on Saturday with a stunning defeat of hated-rival Alabama. The Tigers stood toe-to-toe with the two-time defending national champions for four quarters, and the game appeared to be headed to overtime. With one second left in regulation, Auburn’s Chris Davis returned a missed field goal attempt 109 yards for a score. The Auburn victory came just two weeks after an unbelievable touchdown reception off a deflected pass to defeat Georgia. For the first time since 2010, the Tigers are headed to the SEC Championship Game. Auburn also has an outside shot at the national title, but the Tigers need either No. 1 Florida State or No. Ohio State to lose.
Another set of Tigers claimed the SEC East crown on Saturday night, as Missouri pulled out a 28-21 win over Texas A&M. Missouri’s stout defense held Johnny Manziel to 195 yards passing and only 21 yards rushing. Quarterback James Franklin was more polished in his second start since returning from a shoulder injury. Franklin passed for 223 yards and two touchdowns. The Tigers will face Auburn this Saturday in Atlanta, where they’ll play for their first ever SEC Championship.
The Crimson Tide lost their first game in over a year, but Nick Saban’s talent-laden squad is still a “buy.” Alabama had numerous opportunities to pull away from Auburn this past Saturday, but the home standing Tigers stubbornly refused to go away. Saban pleaded for an extra second following TJ Yeldon’s late scamper to the sidelines, and that one second proved to be costly. Alabama is praying for a couple of upsets to catapult the Tide back into the national title picture.
South Carolina beat up on in-state rival Clemson on Saturday, 31-17, handing the Tigers their second loss of the season. The victory was South Carolina’s fifth straight over Clemson. Steve Spurrier didn’t get the Missouri loss he was hoping for, which would have sent South Carolina to Atlanta, but he did receive another cold Gatoraid bath from his players. The Gamecocks will now wait for the bowl selection process to play itself out.
The Tigers appeared lethargic and uninspired for much of the game against Arkansas. True freshman quarterback Anthony Jennings came in late in the fourth quarter after Zach Mettenberger went down with a knee injury. The results from Jennings were promising. He led the Tigers on a 99-yard drive that culminated with a game-winning 49-yard touchdown pass to Travin Dural with just over a minute to play. Defensively, the Tigers allowed Arkansas to pound them up the middle for the entirety of the contest. This has been LSU’s Achilles’ heel all season, and it nearly cost them a fourth loss.
With Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray injured, Hutson Mason led the Bulldogs to a rivalry-game win over Georgia Tech in double overtime, 41-34. Mason threw for 299 yards and two scores, while tossing only one interception in his first collegiate start. Todd Gurley made a hefty contribution to Georgia’s winning effort, as he reached the end zone three times.
As is customary with Vanderbilt, the Commodores 23-21 over Wake Forest wasn’t pretty. James Franklin’s squad trailed the Demon Deacons heading into the fourth quarter, but managed two field goals in the final period. The victory ensured Vanderbilt of its second consecutive eight-win season, which pretty much makes Franklin a legend in Nashville. Record-setting wide receiver Jordan Matthews reached another milestone in the contest, becoming the first SEC receiver to haul in 100 catches in a season. Vanderbilt is going bowling again, and the Commodores are a solid “buy.”
After an awful start, Dan Mullen’s Bulldogs slowly clawed their way back towards bowl eligibility. Mississippi State upset Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving Day, 17-10 in overtime. Injured quarterback Dak Prescott came off the bench to lead the Bulldogs t0 a win in the extra period. Prescott’s three-yard scoring run gave State the lead, and the defense did its part to secure the Bulldogs’ all-important sixth victory.
Johnny Manziel was held in check for the second straight game this past Saturday, as Missouri limited Texas A&M to just 21 points. The 2013 season was rather disappointing for the Aggies, as they finished with four losses after entering with national title hopes. A&M fans did receive some good news this weekend, however, with the announcement of a new six-year contract for coach Kevin Sumlin.
The Rebels’ regular season ended on a sour note in Starkville, as Ole Miss couldn’t answer Mississippi State’s overtime touchdown. The loss was the second straight for the Rebels, who have battled through a season of highs and lows. Ole Miss will still go bowling, but they’re a “sell” to end the regular season.
Of all the SEC story lines in 2013, Florida’s disastrous season was perhaps the most shocking. After notching 11 wins just a year ago, Will Muschamp’s club endured a 4-8 campaign. While the Gators’ loss to Georgia Southern was undoubtedly the low point, Saturday’s 37-7 loss to rival Florida State was certainly no picnic. Florida’s season was riddled with injuries from the start of Fall camp, and the hits continued on through the finale against the Seminoles. The Gators can now shift their focus to the offseason, where Muschamp’s first order of business will be to find a competent offensive coordinator to replace Brent Pease.
With a 27-14 win over Kentucky, Tennessee managed to escape its first eight-loss season in school history. Wins were difficult to come by in Rocky Top this year, as coach Butch Jones was welcomed to the SEC in rude fashion. Unlike his first-year counterparts at Kentucky and Arkansas, however, Jones did earn a signature win when his squad defeated South Carolina on Oct. 19.
There aren’t many positives to take from Kentucky’s 2013 season. The Wildcats were inept offensively and defensively, and coach Mark Stoops has nowhere to go but up.
The Hogs were very close to pulling the upset in Baton Rouge this past Saturday, but couldn’t hold on in the waning moments of the game. They’ll head into the offseason after a fruitless SEC campaign in 2013. Coach Bret Bielema has some of the pieces he needs to establish a solid program in Fayetteville, but he lacks many others.