The difference in talent at this level is small. What often sets teams apart is discipline.
This can refer to defensive performance, where a former defensive power completely has lost sight of what it was. It also can refer to players making boneheaded mistakes to cost their teams dearly.
Here is a selection of the worst moments from Week 9 in the SEC, including several moments in which players lost discipline in critical spots:
What on earth happened to what used to be a dominant Mizzou defensive front? All of a sudden, this might be among the worst in the SEC.
The Tigers allowed an absurd 377 rushing yards against Kentucky. They let both running backs, Benny Snell and Boom Williams, accumulate at least 180 rushing yards. Kentucky has a great rushing offense, but this is completely unacceptable, especially from a defensive coach like former Mizzou LB Barry Odom.
As if the play on the field wasn’t embarrassing enough, the game clock at Faurot Field stopped working. Officials were forced to keep time on the field and in the press box. It was a disastrous day all around as Missouri fell to 2-6 and 0-4 in SEC play.
Clock has quit working at Missouri. Bad day for Tigers all-around so far.
— Jon Hale (@JonHale_CJ) October 29, 2016
South Carolina fighting
Football sometimes can feel like it has too many personal-foul penalties, but South Carolina cornerback Chris Lammons doesn’t deserve any benefit of the doubt for this sequence. After getting into a scuffle with Tennessee wide receiver Jauan Jennings, Lammons threw two punches and was ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The subsequent penalty allowed the Vols to drive down the field and score a touchdown, tying the game at 7. However, this wasn’t the only bad South Carolina moment.
As the Gamecocks were heading to the locker room at Williams-Brice Stadium up 14-7 against the then-No. 18 Volunteers, some fans were booing Will Muschamp for conservative play-calling at the end of the first half.
More boos than I would have expected for South Carolina's conservative approach at end of first. A lot of boos, 14-7 at the half
— Josh Kendall (@JoshatTheState) October 30, 2016
Obviously, all those fans changed their tune by the end as the Gamecocks got the first signature win of the Muschamp era.
Tennessee’s offense couldn’t get much going, but its special teams were this close to being tremendous. Evan Berry took a kick return 100 yards for a touchdown, but a poor special-teams play ruined what may be one of the greatest punts ever.
The punt from Trevor Daniel rocketed through the air, landed and came to a halt improbably inside the 1-yard line. It was a thing of beauty.
WHAT. A. PUNT.
— Swagger of Tennessee (@SwaggerofUT) October 30, 2016
Unfortunately, a Tennessee special-teams member promptly messed it up. He slid into the ball and tried to field it just short of the goal line. He dragged the ball into the end zone with him for a touchback. The player should have been benched for ruining the masterpiece.
Tennessee just messed up what may have been the most beautiful punt I've ever seen. Gamecocks will have the ball at their own 25
— Capital City Sports (@CCSonSGTV) October 30, 2016
How did Tennessee just ruin the most beautiful punt I've ever seen
— BUFFALO CHILL CODY (@edsbs) October 30, 2016
Bonus: Jim Harbaugh can’t spell
This isn’t from the SEC, but it was too good to leave off the list. Harbaugh always has plenty to say, but apparently he doesn’t always know how to construct it.
While speaking after a win against Michigan State, Harbaugh said, “That is a fact. F-A-C-K.” Obviously, that is not how you spell the word “fact.”
Jim Harbaugh: "That is a fact. F-A-C-K."
Jim Harbaugh: "…did I say F-A-C-K? F-A-C-T."
— Patrick Barron (@BlueBarronPhoto) October 29, 2016
Oh geez, Jim Harbaugh's "F-A-C-K" mis-spelling of "fact" has made ABC highlights
— Patrick Barron (@BlueBarronPhoto) October 30, 2016
At his post game press conference today, Jim Harbaugh made a point of spelling "fact"
He spelled it F-A-C-K
— Mike Armitage (@mlarmitage) October 30, 2016
Remember, Michigan is one of the great academic institutions in college football.