Tennessee effectively won the SEC East on Saturday afternoon after defeating Georgia on a Hail Mary. The Volunteers have beaten and earned tiebreakers against the Bulldogs and Florida, both considered the preseason co-front-runners.
However, the fact that Tennessee virtually has locked things up says much more about the rest of the SEC East than the Volunteers. Other than the Georgia-Tennessee game, the division was a disaster for most of the first day of October. The SEC East lost all of its games against the SEC West and struggled consistently to score. There was even an insane off-field distraction for an East bottom feeder that began circulating on game day.
Here are the worst things of Week 5 in the SEC.
Georgia end-zone awareness
Georgia came within 10 seconds of defeating then-No. 11 Tennessee on Saturday afternoon. A few key mistakes near the end zone ended up costing the Bulldogs the game.
The first came in the second quarter, with Georgia in the midst of a 10-play, 80-yard drive. Running back Sony Michel was set to punch in a 2-yard touchdown to give the Dawgs a dominant lead, but he fumbled just short of the line. The Bulldogs got lucky, as Michel kicked the ball away from Tennessee defenders and QB Jacob Eason miraculously jumped on the ball in the end zone.
UGA RB Sony Michel fumbles. But Freshman QB Jacob Eason follows the play & scores for a TD https://t.co/h4nMRAmSpm
— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) October 1, 2016
Georgia wasn’t as lucky the next two times. The Bulldogs defense got a stop, but Tennessee punted the ball to the Georgia 6-yard line. Two plays in, monstrous defensive end Derek Barnett blasted through the line and sacked Eason, who fumbled the ball. Corey Vereen jumped on the ball to give the Volunteers what looked to be a game-winning touchdown with 2:56 remaining in the fourth.
The Bulldogs, of course, drove down the field, and Eason threw what looked to be a game-clinching 47-yard touchdown pass. But then, Joshua Dobbs threw one of the most spectacular Hail Mary passes of the season to launch Tennessee to victory.
Still can't believe this https://t.co/9DyDA9PbFT
— Sports Pics (@AmazingSprtsPic) October 2, 2016
While the play was lucky at some level, Georgia didn’t do enough to prevent the score. Look behind Jauan Jennings to Georgia’s No. 7, who is UGA’s 6-foot-6 linebacker Lorenzo Carter. Had he been in the front of the end zone instead of the back, he potentially could have been in position to knock down the pass.
SEC East offense
It got lost among an exciting slate of games, but most of the SEC East offenses looked putrid. Granted, Tennessee and Georgia were the best advertisement for the division, but their 34-31 game was the exception.
The other five SEC East teams averaged 9 points per game and lost all three crossover games with the SEC West. Two teams tied with 13 points on Saturday: Florida in a win against Vanderbilt and South Carolina in a loss to Texas A&M. Elsewhere, Mizzou scored 7 against LSU, Kentucky scored 6 against Alabama and the Commodores scored 6. These five teams combined for 3 touchdowns.
Obviously, the SEC is a tough defensive conference, but offensive performances like this have much more to do with poor offense. Having an entire division get shut down like this only proves how inferior it is compared with the SEC West. There was some thought the East could make progress this season, but it hasn’t happened yet outside of Tennessee.
This might not have happened during a Week 5 game, but it certainly deserves consideration among the worst of the week.
During the games on Saturday, SEC Country was alerted that a petition was circulated among Vanderbilt alumni in regards to the school’s annual homecoming game. Shockingly, the band was spreading the petition to earn the right to perform at halftime of the homecoming game.
Vanderbilt administration actually had booked Tennessee State’s band to play at halftime of the game and leave the home band in the bleachers.
“Year after year, game after game, we come to the game to cheer for the Black and Gold,” the petition reads. “We come to hear the band lead us in a rousing rendition of ‘Dynamite.’ We come to cheer ‘Vandy! Vandy! Oh hell yeah!’ We come to the stadium for the full game day experience, of which the Spirit of Gold is an integral part.”
Not a banner day for Chancellor Nick Zeppos and Vice Chancellor David Williams, who appear to have made the call.