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The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

SEC Weekend Rewind: Week 6

22 days ago
Brandon Zimmerman | SEC Network

There's one thing you can't deny about Dan Mullen. He finds ways to win games.

Florida has now played 15 FBS opponents under Mullen. Nine of those games have been within a touchdown or less at some point in the fourth quarter. The Gators are 7-2 in those games.

Go ahead and call Dan Mullen the best in-game coach in the SEC.

The latest example came in Saturday's 24-13 win over Auburn. Florida fumbled four times, temporarily lost starting quarterback Kyle Trask to injury and could not establish any push in the running game whatsoever, and still won.

"You don't normally lose four fumbles and win the game," Mullen said.

But Mullen does. Just consider the ways Mullen has won games since he's been at Florida.

Last year, the Gators beat No. 23 Mississippi State in a game in which they only scored 13 points. Florida also trailed No. 5 LSU 19-14 in the fourth quarter last season before intercepting Joe Burrow twice in the final moments to win, 27-19.

Florida also trailed Vanderbilt 21-3 last year and fell behind 24-14 in the second half vs. South Carolina. The Gators won both games.

Call it the Mullen magic.

Already this season, Florida trailed Miami at halftime and again in the fourth quarter before holding on for a 24-20 win. The Gators then lost starting quarterback Feleipe Franks while trailing 21-10 in the second half at Kentucky. The Wildcats had a 92.9 percent win probability at that point.

So what happened? Florida, fueled by Trask's sensational performance off the bench, of course came back to win.

Florida again lost a starting quarterback for two series on Saturday when Trask injured his left knee in the second quarter. Emory Jones, a third-string quarterback just a month ago, calmly led the Gators on a critical 10-play field goal drive. Why? Because Mullen always has his backup quarterbacks ready.

Much of Mullen's success can be credited to outstanding game week preparation. Some of it just great fortune, such as Miami and Kentucky both missing chip shot field goals in the fourth quarter.

Florida doesn't currently have the overflowing 5-star talent that allows teams like Alabama and Georgia to routinely run away with games. Florida's margin for error is much smaller at the moment. But Mullen knows how to manage games, and has instilled a winning culture among his players.

With other coaching candidates Florida had considered - Scott Frost and Chip Kelly - still riding the roller coaster of rebuilding, the Gators are now firmly a top-10 team competing for an SEC and national title in year two under Mullen.

The Gators have to feel good about that.

ANOTHER SEC EAST QB GOES DOWN: An already brutal series of injuries to SEC East quarterbacks took another scary turn on Saturday when Missouri's Kelly Bryant left the Tigers' win over Troy with a leg injury.

Bryant had his left leg rolled up on while throwing a touchdown pass in the second half. Coach Barry Odom did not have an update after the game.

"I know that Kelly's getting checked out now and he did at halftime. I'll hopefully find something out later tonight," Odom said. "He was in great spirits. Our docs seemed like it was good news, but I don't want to go there until I get it confirmed."

Kentucky's Terry Wilson, Florida's Feleipe Franks and South Carolina's Jake Bentley have already been lost for the season with injuries.

FUTURE OF OLE MISS FOOTBALL ON DISPLAY: No team in the SEC has had a bigger makeover than Ole Miss. The Rebels, once a pass-happy offense with the Nasty Wide Outs under former offensive coordinator Phil Longo, are now a pound-and-ground team.

Ole Miss proved this on Saturday by rushing for 413 yards against Vanderbilt. It was the Rebels' highest SEC output since 1979.

What's more impressive, 353 of their rushing yards on Saturday came from freshmen, including 165 yards from quarterback John Rhys Plumlee. Since taking over for Matt Corral, Plumlee has energized the Rebels' offense and given them a clear direction for the future.

TENNESSEE BOUNCES BACK: Speaking of freshmen quarterbacks, credit Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt for making a change at quarterback and starting Brian Maurer against Georgia on Saturday night.

Despite the final score, Maurer gave Tennessee a huge spark early in the game, orchestrating a pair of 75-yard touchdown drives that put the Vols ahead 14-10 in the second quarter.

Georgia eventually wore the Vols down with its superior talent, but Pruitt had his team ready to play and made the right move changing quarterbacks.

EXTRA POINTS: Joe Burrow became the first LSU quarterback to eclipse 300 yards passing in four straight games and threw for five touchdowns to help the fifth-ranked Tigers defeat Utah State 42-6 on Saturday. ... Florida's three SEC games this season have featured a total of 21 turnovers. ... Jake Fromm moved into third place in the nation in completion percentage at 77.5 percent behind LSU's Joe Burrow (78.4) and USC's Kedon Slovis (77.9). ... LSU's Ed Orgeron on facing Florida on Saturday night: "The competition's going to be a little bit stiffer next Saturday night at seven o'clock. This place is going to be live."