Did Mark Stoops think the Kentucky defense would be this improved?
Suddenly, it’s a three-team race in the SEC East.
Georgia no longer looks head-and-shoulders above the rest of the division after the No. 2-ranked Bulldogs were blasted in Baton Rouge, falling 36-16 to No. 13 LSU. That dropped Kirby Smart’s team into a three-way tie in the loss column with Florida and, yes, Kentucky.
Florida rallied from a 21-3 deficit to win 37-27 at Vanderbilt on Saturday. The Gators have won six straight games since losing to visiting Kentucky on Sept. 8. UK had the week off. So Georgia and Florida are now tied for first in the SEC East at 4-1. Kentucky is right behind at 3-1.
Florida and Georgia are off this week before their annual “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” showdown on Oct. 27 in Jacksonville. The following week, Georgia travels to Lexington to play Kentucky at Kroger Field.
Here is each team’s remaining SEC schedule:
Oct. 20 — off
Oct. 27 — vs. Florida
Nov. 3 — at Kentucky
Nov. 10 — Auburn
Oct. 20 — off
Oct. 27 — vs. Georgia
Nov. 3 — Missouri
Nov. 10 — at South Carolina
Oct. 20 — Vanderbilt
Oct. 27 — at Missouri
Nov. 3 — Georgia
Nov. 10 — at Tennessee
Tennessee pulled a Saturday surprise, winning 30-24 at No. 21 Auburn to snap an 11-game SEC losing streak. It was the first conference win for new head coach Jeremy Pruitt. Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano completed 21 of 32 passes for 328 yards and two scores. The Vols are 1-2 in the league while disappointing Auburn slipped to 1-3.
Alabama rolled again, building a 20-point halftime lead on the way to a 39-10 victory over Missouri. Star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa left the game in the third quarter after appearing to aggravate a mild knee sprain he suffered last week. Jerry Jeudy caught three passes for 147 yards for the Crimson Tide. Bama is 4-0 in league play. Mizzou is now 0-3.
Texas A&M improved to 3-1 in league play with a 26-23 win at South Carolina. Aggies quarterback Kellen Mond completed 25 of 37 passes for 353 yards and a touchdown. Trayveon Williams rushed for 78 yards on 19 carries. And tight end Jace Sternberger caught seven passes for 145 yards. South Carolina fell to 2-3 in SEC play.
Ole Miss picked up its first SEC win with a 37-33 victory at Arkansas. Jordan Ta’amu threw for 387 yards, completing 26 of 35 passes. He also ran for 141 yards on 17 carries as the Rebels dropped the Razorbacks to 0-4 in the league and 1-6 overall. Ole Miss is 5-2 overall.
The Florida-Vanderbilt game featured a near brawl between the two teams when Florida’s James Houston IV was ejected for targeting. As Vandy Coach Derek Mason was standing over the Commodore injured on the play, near the Florida sideline, he got into a shouting match first with Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and then Florida head coach Dan Mullen, who had to be restrained from going after Mason.
The two head coaches hugged it out afterward, however. “I’ve got a lot of respect for Dan,” Mason said of Mullen. “He respects the process, so do I, so we keep it moving.”
Vanderbilt will bring a 3-4 overall and 0-3 SEC mark to Kroger Field next Saturday. The Commodores were hurt by the loss of running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who left the game with a leg injury in the second quarter. Before that, Vaughn rushed for 56 yards on seven carries and turned a screen pass into a 75-yard touchdown.
Georgia could get nothing going against the LSU defense in its loss at Tiger Stadium. The Bulldogs were outgained 475-322. Quarterback Jake Fromm came into the game completing 72 percent of his passes. He exited having completed just 16 of 34 for 209 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
On a fourth-and-10 from the LSU 14-yard line, Smart called for a fake field goal late in the first quarter. The play was a disaster with place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship dropped for a 1-yard loss. And it was all downhill from there for Georgia.
So now we have a real race in the SEC East.