It took a wild play at the end of crazy game to do it, but the race for an Southeastern Conference East title is down to Missouri and South Carolina.
Missouri was idle Saturday, but its path to winning the SEC East got a little more steep, even though Georgia was eliminated from contention when the Bulldogs lost 43-38 at Auburn.
South Carolina pulled off a 19-14 comeback victory at home against Florida, and the Gamecocks finished its SEC schedule at 6-2.
That means Missouri controls its own destiny at 5-1 in the SEC with two games remaining. Missouri plays at Ole Miss next Saturday and then at home against Texas A&M on Nov. 30. If Missouri wins out, the Tigers will win the SEC East. If MU loses one of those games and ends up tied with South Carolina at 6-2, the Gamecocks have the tiebreaker, due to their win earlier this season at Missouri.
Georgia’s loss at Auburn eliminated the Bulldogs, who fell to 4-3 in the SEC.
And the loss was a wild affair. Auburn’s Ricardo Louis scored on a deflected 73-yard pass on fourth and 18 with 25 seconds left to lift No. 7 Auburn to the stunning 43-38 victory over No. 25 Bulldogs.
The Tigers, 10-1, 6-1 in the SEC, had blown a 27-7 lead but pulled the miracle win in a turnaround season. From 3-9 last year, the Tigers can win the SEC West with a victory in two weeks against No. 1 Alabama.
On the game-winning play Auburn’s Nick Marshall heaved the ball downfield with two defenders around Louis. It bounced off safety Tray Matthews and right into Louis’s hands. Louis easily sprinted to the end zone for the score.
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, who had engineered the comeback with three fourth-quarter touchdowns, could only stare helplessly from the bench.
He led Georgia (6-4, 4-3) all the way to Auburn’s 20 but his final two passes fell incomplete as time ran out. Dee Ford hit him on the final pass as Murray ran toward the line before trying to throw.
Some Auburn players climbed into the student section to celebrate, and most of the fans stuck around savoring the victory.
Marshall came up with the biggest play of his career against the Bulldogs, where he played as a freshman defensive back. He was dismissed from the team in February 2012 for violating team rules and returned to the SEC after a season in junior college.
He finished 15-of-26 passing for 229 yards after attempting only 15 passes combined in the past two games thanks to a steamrolling running game. Marshall also ran 19 times for 89 yards.
He also threw a game-winning TD pass with 10 seconds left against Mississippi State, but there was much more on the line this time.
Tre Mason ran 27 times for 115 yards, and Louis had his career game.
He caught four passes for 131 yards – nearly doubling the 160 yards he had entering the game – and gained 66 yards on five rushes.
It was just enough to survive Murray’s furious onslaught.
The prolific Georgia passer completed 33 of 49 passes for 415 yards and two touchdowns in the final 9:35, with an earlier interception.
Murray also ran for two scores and had 160 passing yards in the fourth quarter.
Auburn ran for 323 yards against a defense that came in giving up 126 yards a game on the ground, 20th nationally.