When the 2013 college football season opened up, there were three teams in the SEC East expected to compete for the national championship. Those three were not Tennessee, Mizzou or Vandy.
However, on October 19 those three schools reigned supreme over league powerhouses South Carolina, Florida and Georgia. It was a shocking afternoon, complete with last-second scoring, a blowout and topsy-turvy divisional standings.
On a day when Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray moved past Tim Tebow as the most prolific passer in SEC history, his injury-riddled team could not escape a motivated Commodores squad. Led by All-American-caliber wide receiver Jordan Matthews, the ‘Dores scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to hand Georgia its second consecutive SEC East loss, 31-27. After starting the year ranked in the top five nationally, coach Mark Richt’s squad now sits at a massively disappointing 4-3 on the year.
Georgia’s biggest rival, Florida, lost to the same team that pounded the Dawgs a week prior. The Gators were looking to rebound from a tough loss at LSU in Week 7, while taking control of the East against Mizzou. Instead, coach Will Muschamp’s squad suffered one injury too many on was simply overpowered. Tyler Murphy completed 15/29 passes for a measly 92 yards. Once again his offense failed to muster up much of anything in the 36-17 loss. Just like Georgia, Florida now sits at a disappointing 4-3 on the year.
Finally, the most thrilling – for Vols fans – game of the afternoon. Superstar defensive end Jadeveon Clowney opened the game with a flourish of tackles and sacks. However, it was Tennessee with the last laugh. Michael Palardy hit a 19-yard field goal with zero seconds remaining on the clock to give his Vols a season-defining, 23-21 win. It was Palardy’s third field goal of the day, and it gave coach Butch Jones a signature victory in his first year in Knoxville.
Here are the SEC East standings following Bloody Saturday:
Mizzou Tigers: 7-0 (3-0)
South Carolina Gamecocks: 5-2 (3-2)
Florida Gators: 4-3 (3-2)
Georgia Bulldogs: 4-3 (3-2)
Tennessee Volunteers: 4-3 (1-2)
Vanderbilt Commodores: 4-3 (1-3)
Kentucky Wildcats: 1-5 (0-3)
*Update* 10:55 p.m.
The SEC West was turned on its head as well, with two massive upsets within the division.
Just a year after winning a mere three games and dumping coach Gene Chizik, Auburn sent shock waves through the West. Former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn is now the Tigers’ head coach, and he showed off his advanced schematics in a 45-41 win over Texas A&M. Yes, his defense gave up 454 passing yards and four touchdowns to reigning Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, but they also picked him off twice. Auburn only gave up 133 total rushing yards while having two players break the 100-yard barrier themselves. Tre Mason piled up 178 yards, as well as the game-winning score with 1:19 left in the game.
The honeymoon may be just about over for offensive coordinator Cam Cameron in Baton Rouge. After spending years in the NFL, working with guys such as Phillip Rivers and Joe Flacco, he has helped senior Zach Mettenberger develop into a star or LSU. However, the Tigers offense struggled mightily in a last-second upset loss to Ole Miss, 27-24. Mettenberger threw three interceptions to only one touchdown. On the ground, LSU only managed to scrounge up 114 rushing yards – total. Jeremy Hill led the way with 64. This was all with the Rebels’ star true freshman defensive end Robert Nkemdiche sidelined with a hamstring injury. Conversely, coach Les Miles’ vaunted defense gave up 346 passing yards to Bo Wallace. Andrew Ritter’s 41-yard field goal with time expiring sealed it.