The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

SEC Weekend Rewind: Week 7

50 days ago
Brandon Zimmerman | SEC Network

Those former Florida coaches that re-emerge at South Carolina always seem to come back to bite Georgia. Steve Spurrier did it several times this decade - most famously handing the 2012 Georgia team its only regular-season loss.

And now Will Muschamp has done it. The one-time Gators coach replaced Spurrier at South Carolina, returned to the field where he played his college ball and stunned No. 3 Georgia 20-17 in double overtime on Saturday.

In the process, South Carolina flipped the SEC East divisional race on its head in ways nobody expected. Who would have thought on the second week of October, Missouri would be alone in first place in the East?

But that's exactly what has happened after the Tigers moved to 2-0 in the SEC after holding off Ole Miss on Saturday night while Florida lost at LSU.

A division that everyone assumed would be taken by Georgia is suddenly wide open. ESPN's FPI gives Georgia a 42 percent chance to win the East followed by Missouri at 32 percent and Florida at 23 percent.

It sets up what could be a wild November as these three teams all play each other over a three-week span to start the month. And if it's Georgia that emerges from that stretch with a one-game lead, don't forget the Bulldogs still have to travel to Auburn on Nov. 16 and host Texas A&M on Nov. 23.

Back to Muschamp. The now veteran SEC coach continues to be a thorn in the Bulldogs' side. Muschamp, in his last season at Florida in 2014, upset Georgia 38-20 behind a successful fake field goal and an impressive 418-yard rushing performance from the Gators.

SO WHAT HAPPENED TO GEORGIA?: So how did Georgia lose on Saturday, and can it be corrected? There are several reasons.

The Bulldogs heralded offensive line was dominated up front by South Carolina's defensive front, which sacked Jake Fromm three times. Fromm came into the game having been sacked just once all season.

Jake Fromm's critical interception that was returned for a touchdown by Israel Mukuamu to end the first half was the result of Gamecocks star defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw splitting two blockers to pressure Fromm.

The offensive line was unable to open up any big running lanes for the Bulldogs' running backs as well. Is this correctable? Given Georgia's talent there, yes. But new offensive coordinator James Coley should look to be a little more creative in the run game. Georgia's biggest shortcoming, though, is the lack of playmaking at receiver. This was a concern in the preseason after the Bulldogs lost their top five receivers from a year ago.

Transfer Lawrence Cager, who had emerged as Fromm's favorite weapon since the Notre Dame win, injured his shoulder early in the second half and did not return. The performance by Georgia's receivers included a third-down drop by tight end Eli Wolf, and another drop by senior Tyler Simmons in overtime that fell into the hands of a Gamecocks defender for Fromm's third interception. Georgia was very dynamic in the passing game the last two seasons with Mecole Hardman, Riley Ridley, Jeremiah Holloman, Terry Godwin and Isaac Nauta in the fold. So far this year, the Bulldogs have struggled to replace their playmaking ability.

KENTUCKY FINDS ITS QUARTERBACK, AT RECEIVER: Seven of the 13 SEC schools in action on Saturday had two quarterbacks play meaningful snaps. Some of it was by design, like at Florida, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss. Some of it was by necessity due to injury, like at Tennessee and South Carolina. And a few teams had to turn to their backups for a time due to uneven performances from the starter, like at Mississippi State and Arkansas. Nobody made a better switch at the position than Kentucky. The Wildcats inserted receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. at quarterback in place of the struggling Sawyer Smith during the bye week, and developed a specific gameplan to play to his strengths.

It worked.

Bowden ran 24 times for 196 yards and two touchdowns and completed seven of 11 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown in the Wildcats' 24-20 win over Arkansas. On a night Kentucky honored the late Jared Lorenzen, Bowden put in a performance the former Wildcats' quarterback would have appreciated.

Bowden played quarterback in high school, and his performance on Saturday came with his high school coach in the stands watching.

"It's like a little homecoming thing," Bowden said. "My (high school) head coach is here too. I saw him during the Cat Walk and it's just a blessing to be able to do that still. I was a receiver here. I'm at a loss for words, for real, and I just give all my glory to my teammates."

EXTRA POINTS: Ed Orgeron now has seven wins vs. AP top 10 teams since 2016, the third most over that span trailing Nick Saban and Urban Meyer. ... Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill entered the day averaging 119.2 yards rushing per game, but Tennessee limited him to 13 yards on 11 carries.... Tennessee ended its six-game losing streak against FBS teams. ... Ole Miss quarterback John Rhys Plumlee leads the SEC in rushing yards per game at 117.5. ... LSU averaged 10.6 yards per play against Florida, its most in a game against an SEC team in the last 15 seasons. Florida ran 84 plays in the game compared to LSU's 48.