Before this past weekend, there was an unusual shortage of upsets in the SEC this season. The perennial contenders were all very much in the thick of their divisional races, while the usual suspects were at the bottom of the pile.
What a difference a day makes. A rash of upsets swept through the SEC on Saturday, as LSU, South Carolina, Texas A&M, and Georgia all fell to underdog opponents. Florida was also knocked off at Mizzou. The weekly Power Rankings and Stock Report were shaken up significantly as a result.
1. Alabama (7-0, 4-0)
2. Missouri (7-0, 3-0)
3. Auburn (6-1, 3-1)
4. Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2)
5. South Carolina (5-2, 3-2)
6. LSU (6-2, 3-2)
7. Ole Miss (4-3, 2-3)
8. Georgia (4-3, 3-2)
9. Florida (4-3, 3-2)
10. Tennessee (4-3, 1-2)
11. Vanderbilt (4-3, 1-3)
12. Mississippi State (3-3, 0-2)
13. Arkansas (3-5, 0-4)
14. Kentucky (1-5, 0-3)
With the upset bug spreading like a virus around the league on Saturday, top-ranked Alabama remained immune, thrashing Arkansas 52-0. The Crimson Tide seem to grow more dominant by the week, as Nick Saban’s defense demonstrates consistent improvement. Auburn may disagree, but the Tide might not receive another formidable challenge until the SEC Championship Game.
With a convincing 36-17 home win over Florida, Gary Pinkel’s Tigers established themselves as the team to beat in the Eastern Division. Maty Mauk stepped in for the injured James Franklin at quarterback, and played with impressive poise throughout the entire game. Missouri still has some work to do defensively before challenging Alabama for SEC supremacy, but the Tigers are definitely on the right track.
Auburn went into College Station and earned the signature win of first-year coach Gus Malzahn’s brief tenure. The Tigers defeated Texas A&M, 45-41, and proved that their offense is on par with the very best in the league. With only one loss on the season, Auburn is making certain that this year’s Iron Bowl matchup with Alabama will definitely have meaning. The Tigers are once again a “buy.”
Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks were flying high after a convincing road win over Arkansas last week. They ran into a steadily improving Tennessee squad in Knoxville, however, and couldn’t escape Rocky Top with a victory. South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney had arguably his best game of the season, while quarterback Connor Shaw easily had his worst. Shaw was 7-for-21 through the air, and tossed his first interception of the year.
Texas A&M dropped a home contest at Kyle Field for the second time this season, as Auburn escaped with the win on Saturday afternoon. Johnny Manziel filled up the stat sheet with over 500 yards of total offense, but left the game with an injured shoulder in the fourth quarter. Manziel returned, but the A&M defense was again less than stellar against a formidable offense. We’re holding on the Aggies for the moment.
Tennessee had an open date last week, but it appears the Vols weren’t completely “idle.” First-year coach Butch Jones had his team fully ready for the visiting Gamecocks on Saturday, and the preparation paid off in a big way. Tennessee nearly upset Georgia last time out, but came up short in overtime. Last Saturday was a different story, however. Michael Palardy nailed a 19-yard field goal as time expired and the Vols earned their first conference win of 2013.
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze became the third head coach of the day to earn his signature victory, as Ole Miss shocked LSU in Oxford, 27-24. The Rebels dominated the line of scrimmage in the second half, and quarterback Bo Wallace gave his best impersonation of John Elway. After three straight losses to divisional opponents, Freeze’s yound squad was able to dig its heels in, and pull out the unlikely victory.
Vanderbilt got off to a slow start at home on Saturday, and actually trailed Georgia 27-14 with just over six minutes left in the third quarter. That’s when James Franklin’s Commodores kicked their efforts into high gear. Vanderbilt outscored the Bulldogs 17-0 from that point on, and intercepted Aaron Murray to seal the win. For the Commodores, the victory was their first in the SEC this season, and as a result, they’re no longer a “sell.”
The Bulldogs suffered their second straight loss on Saturday. Even though the Commodores are highly improved as a program, a loss to Vanderbilt will always raise questions. Quarterback Aaron Murray struggled on Saturday, as Georgia was again without the services of a host of key offensive players.
After enjoying a stellar first half of the season, quarterback Zach Mettenberger took three steps back on Saturday with a dreadful performance against a predominantly second-team defense. Injury-plagued Ole Miss had its way with LSU up front throughout the fourth quarter, which has to be a tough pill for the Tigers to swallow. For the first time this season, LSU is a “sell.”
For the second time in two weeks, Florida failed to move the football with consistency. Missouri outgained the Gators 500-151, and quarterback Tyler Murphy was sacked six times. The Florida defense again put forth a solid effort, but didn’t receive any help from offensive coordinator Brent Pease’s struggling unit. The Gators are off this week, and the break couldn’t come at a better time.
The Bulldogs of Mississippi had an open date last Saturday, but they’re still winless in the SEC. Dan Mullen’s offense has shown flashes this season, but the defense is largely a mess. Until they win a conference game, the Bulldogs will be a “sell.”
When Bret Bielema left a flourishing program at Wisconsin to take the Arkansas job, days like Saturday are probably not what he envisioned. The Razobacks were beaten silly by Alabama, and suffered their fifth straight loss. Arkansas is again an easy “sell.”
Mark Stoops’s squad was idle this Saturday, which means that both Mississippi State and Kentucky will have nearly two weeks to prepare for this Thursday’s showdown in Starkville. The Wildcats haven’t yet won an SEC contest in 2013, and they’re still a “sell.”