NCAA FB

SEC: Upsets prove more parity, fewer patsies

Share This Story

   
 

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP)

Surely some people are still snickering at the Southeastern Conference.

The big, bad SEC - the powerhouse league that has won seven consecutive national titles - had a stunning number of upsets Saturday. Florida, Georgia, LSU, South Carolina and Texas A&M all lost in league play.

All five had been considered national title contenders before the season. Now, they're looking for significant help in the division race while trying to make the most of a disappointing season.

Few outsiders are feeling sorry for them, either. They're rooting for top-ranked Alabama to go down next and pulling for an end to the league's college football reign.

Not surprisingly, SEC coaches, players and officials view the situation differently. They say the upsets prove the league has improved from top to bottom - more parity and fewer patsies.

''It's no surprise to me that there's a little bit of a changing of the guard this year,'' Alabama coach Nick Saban said. ''When people talk about scheduling and imbalances in scheduling, they make the assumptions that certain teams are always good. We played Tennessee for years and years around here where they were one of the best teams in the SEC. ...

''History says we have a lot of teams in the SEC that are capable of being very, very good, and I think you're seeing some of that emerge this year.''

Just days after the SEC set a record by becoming the first conference with eight teams ranked in the Top 25, five of them dropped games.

Vanderbilt upset No. 15 Georgia 31-27; Tennessee knocked off No. 11 South Carolina 23-21; No. 14 Missouri thumped 22nd-ranked Florida, which was a 3-point favorite, 36-17; No. 24 Auburn edged seventh-ranked Texas A&M 45-41 and Mississippi capped the chaotic day with a last-second field goal that defeated No. 6 LSU 27-24.

''I think a lot of the ranked teams either sleep on the unranked teams or I just think a lot of the unranked teams have that edge,'' Tennessee receiver Alton ''Pig'' Howard said. ''They want to beat a ranked opponent, so I'd say they probably out-effort them. A lot of teams have talent, but I think when you play with effort, that beats talent.''

Injuries have played a role, too.

Georgia lost tailback Keith Marshall and receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley to season-ending knee injuries. Another top receiver, Michael Bennett, has missed two games with a knee injury. And running back Todd Gurley sat out the last three games with a sprained left ankle.

Florida lost quarterback Jeff Driskel (broken leg), right tackle Chaz Green (labrum), running back Matt Jones (knee) and defensive tackle Dominique Easley (knee) to season-ending injuries.

South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw left Saturday's loss with a sprained left knee. The Gamecocks managed only 15 yards the last 15 minutes without him. Shaw likely won't play this week at Missouri.

''There's a lot of parity in our league right now,'' Florida coach Will Muschamp said. ''I think there's not a lot of difference between a lot of teams. ... Obviously you've seen through the year, whether it's attrition by injuries or for whatever reason, there's been some highs and lows for each team in the SEC.''

Watching all the upsets unfold was encouraging for first-year Kentucky coach Mark Stoops, whose team had the weekend off.

''You look at it and say, `Anything can happen in this league,''' Stoops said. ''I think it's such a tough, physical league, and if you don't come ready to play, anything can happen. I think with the injuries that happen throughout this league because of the physicality, I think that changes things week to week, as well.''

Playing at home also has been a huge factor.

SEC teams are a combined 45-13 at home and 16-20 on the road this season. If you take out Alabama, Texas A&M and Missouri, the rest of the league is 8-20 on the road.

''One of the things I've come to find very early on is everyone has a home-field advantage,'' Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. ''We have to go on the road and play in some great hostile environments.''

Throw in key injuries and a few big plays, and the SEC has become a place where anything can and will happen. And anyone tired of seeing the SEC win national titles is surely celebrating - at least for now.

''Really the SEC's biggest enemy is its depth overall,'' Georgia tight end Arthur Lynch said. ''The quality of the league is pretty impressive. It's the SEC. It's the best league out there and will continue to be the best league.

''It's hard to go undefeated.''

---

AP Sports Writers Gary Graves in Lexington, Ky., Pete Iacobelli in Columbia, S.C., Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tenn., Charles Odum in Athens, Ga., and John Zenor in Tuscaloosa, Ala., contributed to this report.

Tagged: Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas A&M, Missouri, Texas

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by

College Football Pick'em on FOX


NCAA FB Videos

Sumlin annoyed by media's Manziel questions Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Kevin Sumlin responds to questions about life after Johnny Football by toying wi...

AJ Pasquale's journey back to UCLA Posted: Jun 17, 2014
UCLA football ops intern AJ Pasquale describes his own personal journey after th...

Winston issued adult civil citation Posted: Apr 30, 2014
Get the latest news surrounding Jameis Winston's recent shoplifting fiasco.

Get Inside the Locker Room with Scout.com

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/759777/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_759000/ff_759777_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Michigan_State_Spartans/browse/featuredproduct/760171/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_760000/ff_760171_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White
    Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_USC_Trojans/browse/featuredproduct/761373/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_761000/ff_761373_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/829709/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829709_xl.jpg&w=100 64.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimso..
    Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_LSU_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/829740/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829740_xl.jpg&w=100 49.99 Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple
    Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oklahoma_Sooners/browse/featuredproduct/830935/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_830000/ff_830935_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/861243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861243_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue
    adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Nebraska_Cornhuskers/browse/featuredproduct/861247/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861247_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapback Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1087345/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1087000/ff_1087345_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapba..
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1093431/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1093000/ff_1093431_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash