Missouri Controls Bizarre SEC East As Upsets Continue
The Missouri Tigers just took a commanding lead in the SEC East, ripping apart Florida, 36-17, without starting quarterback James Franklin.
Georgia (No. 5), South Carolina (No. 6) and Florida (No. 10), all Top-10 teams in the preseason AP poll, fell victim to upsets during Saturday's early slate of games. All three teams have multiple conference losses.
Missouri (7-0, 3-0), a surprise frontrunner for a spot in the SEC Championship, was picked by the media to finish sixth in the division ahead of only Kentucky. The Tigers finished 2-6 in the conference last season.
Before injuring his shoulder last week, Franklin put up huge numbers throwing to a tall, talented group of receivers. Backup Maty Mauk threw for nearly 300 yards, Henry Josey rushed for 136 and Missouri posted 36 on a respected Florida defense. Gators backup quarterback Tyler Murphy, in for an injured Jeff Driskel, didn't fare as well, failing to reach 100 yards passing. Missouri outgained Florida, 500 yards to 151.
Vanderbilt (4-3, 1-3) took advantage of a botched punt late in the fourth quarter that set up a game-winning touchdown as Georgia, playing without a handful of talented, injured receivers and running backs, fell to 1-2 with a narrow overtime escape at Tennessee in its last three games. The Bulldogs played No. 3 Clemson close to open the season before knocking off South Carolina and LSU at home, but haven't been able to overcome injuries.
Physical play in many ways has defined the SEC East this year. South Carolina, down 17-7 at halftime, fought to a 21-17 lead against Tennessee before losing quarterback Connor Shaw. The Vols drilled a late field goal to upset the Gamecocks, 23-21.
Missouri isn't free and clear, but have a commanding lead in the division. The Tigers still must face South Carolina next week. Tennessee, Ole Miss and Texas A&M remain on the schedule.
The SEC West has played to script thus far. Alabama, the lone unbeaten, still must face LSU, with one-loss Texas A&M trying to play spoiler.
It's hard to believe, but if the season ended right now, Alabama would play Missouri in the SEC Championship.
Current SEC East Standings