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SEC Notebook: Upset Saturday hits the SEC

It was inevitable that two of the eight SEC teams in the Associated Press Top 25 were going to lose since two games Saturday matched teams appearing in the weekly poll.

But five?

Talk about an Upset Saturday.

The upsets started with unranked Vanderbilt rallying to knock off No. 15 Georgia, 31-27, and Tennessee kicking a field goal as time ran out for a 23-21 win over No. 11 South Carolina.

The day continued with No. 24 Auburn coming back from a 10-point deficit to beat No. 7 Texas A&M, 45-41, and it ended with unranked Ole Miss beating LSU, 27-24, on a field goal with two seconds remaining.

Missouri also knocked off No. 22 Florida, though that wasn’t really an upset since the unbeaten Tigers were ranked No. 14 going into the game.

Still, the final score of 36-17 was a bit of a surprise since the Gators hadn’t given up more than 21 points in any game this season.

The only ranked team to take care of business against an unranked opponent was No. 1 Alabama, which destroyed Arkansas 52-0.

The results had a major impact on both divisions.

In the Eastern race, Missouri now has a two-game advantage in the lost column over traditional powers Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

But the Tigers can’t get too comfortable because they have played only three conference games and still have the Gamecocks, Ole Miss on the road, and Texas A&M among their remaining five contests.

At 4-0, Alabama still has a firm grip in the Western Division, but with both LSU and Texas A&M losing, the Crimson Tide’s closest challenger now is surprising Auburn, which is 3-1.

Those two teams meet Nov. 30 at Auburn.

Before then, Alabama has a home date with LSU on Nov. 9 and Auburn has a home game against Georgia among its last four.

The upsets ended up knocking only two of the losers completely out of the poll with Florida and Georgia dropping out, each with its third loss.

GEORGIA (4-3)

Game: Vanderbilt 31, Georgia 27. The Bulldogs led 27-14 going into the fourth quarter but gave up 17 unanswered points to the Commodores, who were playing with a backup quarterback after losing starter Austyn Carta-Samuels to a leg injury in the second quarter. Senior QB Aaron Murray became the SEC’s all-time career leader in total offense, knocking Florida QB Tim Tebow out of first place. Murray raised his total to 12,327 yards, 95 more than Tebow finished with. But Murray threw for only 114 yards in the loss as Georgia managed only 221 yards of total offense against the Commodores.

Takeaway: The Georgia offense was still without sophomore RB Todd Gurley because of an ankle injury and lost two defensive starters as the game progressed.

Sophomore SS Josh Harvey-Clemons injured his foot in the second quarter and did not return, and junior DE Ray Drew was ejected in the second quarter for a targeting violation.

Mistakes on special teams compounded the Bulldogs’ woes.

They gave up a touchdown on a fake field goal attempt by Vandy in the second quarter to fall behind 14-10.

Then in the second half they twice gave the Commodores short fields to work with.

Georgia set up the Commodores at its own 36-yard line when junior CB Damian Swann muffed a punt and at the 13 when sophomore P Collin Barber couldn’t handle a high snap and had to fall on the ball. The latter led to Vandy’s final touchdown.

“I’m not going to say that about our special teams,” coach Mark Richt said. “We certainly made mistakes today on special teams, but this is a team game.

“Offense has a responsibility, defense has a responsibility, and special teams has their responsibility. We win as a team, we lose as a team.”

In fact, a personal foul penalty against junior LB Ramik Wilson on a fourth-down play kept alive Vandy’s third touchdown drive.

Next: Vs. Florida (Jacksonville), Nov. 2.