Kentucky upset highlights first two rounds of SEC football mock tournament

Who says the month of March belongs solely to college hoops?

In the spirit of spring practice beginning, we thought it was time for a little mock tournament madness for the SEC football world.

This week, we’re using our current power rankings to create a conference tournament of our own. Our five ESPN SEC reporters were asked to give their picks on each matchup, with the team with the most votes advancing to the next round.

The first two rounds of the tournament saw a couple of intriguing games and one nearly unanimous upset.


No. 11 Ole Miss vs. No. 14 Missouri

Edward Aschoff: The Rebels have zero postseason aspirations and are staring at the great unknown as a program in the long term with this NCAA investigation. However, there's still a lot more talent on this Ole Miss squad than on a Mizzou team trying to find a pulse on defense. Ole Miss 41, Missouri 24

David Ching: Missouri returns nearly everyone on offense and will score enough here to cruise past a rebuilding Ole Miss. Missouri 31, Ole Miss 21

Sam Khan Jr.: Drew Lock and J'Mon Moore hook up for a couple of touchdowns and the Tigers get a late stop to squeak by uber-talented Shea Patterson and the Rebels. Missouri 41, Ole Miss 38

Greg Ostendorf: Off-field distractions plus a defense that finished last in the SEC a year ago? Sorry, Ole Miss fans, but that’s how you get beat early. I’ll take Drew Lock and the Tigers. Missouri 31, Ole Miss 28

Alex Scarborough: Distractions are a concern for Ole Miss, but the Rebs have too much talent with quarterback Shea Patterson and receivers A.J. Brown and Van Jefferson not to outlast a scrappy Missouri defense. Ole Miss 35, Missouri 24

WINNER: Missouri

No. 12 South Carolina vs. No. 13 Vanderbilt

Aschoff: The Commodores need Kyle Shurmur to take a few steps forward under center this spring, and he will against a South Carolina defense that still hasn't quite figured out how to get to the quarterback enough. Vanderbilt 24, South Carolina 20

Ching: Now that Jake Bentley and Rico Dowdle have established themselves, these Gamecocks are better than the South Carolina team that edged Vandy in last year's opener. South Carolina 24, Vanderbilt 17

Khan Jr.: If you love defense, this game is for you. One touchdown gets scored, by the Gamecocks via a Jake Bentley-to-Deebo Samuel connection in the fourth. South Carolina 13, Vanderbilt 6

Ostendorf: With 10 starters returning on offense and Will Muschamp running the defense, don’t sleep on South Carolina this fall. South Carolina 28, Vanderbilt 17

Scarborough: With Skai Moore back from injury and Jake Bentley a year older at quarterback, give me the Gamecocks in a nail-biter. South Carolina 21, Vanderbilt 19

WINNER: South Carolina


No. 8 Arkansas vs. No. 9 Mississippi State

Aschoff: Mississippi State is one of those sneaky good teams in 2017, and with how bad Arkansas' defense was last year (without a ton of proven talent returning), and how good Nick Fitzgerald is, this has State written all over it. Mississippi State 38, Arkansas 31

Ching: Arkansas' tackling trouble crops up again as Nick Fitzgerald runs wild. Mississippi State 20, Arkansas 17

Khan: Nick Fitzgerald runs wild, but the three-pronged backfield attack of Austin Allen, Rawleigh Williams III and Devwah Whaley prove to be too much for the Bulldogs. Arkansas 45, Mississippi State 38

Ostendorf: Two solid quarterbacks. Two defenses that make me a little nervous. I can see this thing turning into a shootout. Rawleigh Williams is the difference though. Arkansas 38, Mississippi State 35

Scarborough: Austin Allen shreds a porous Mississippi State secondary with four touchdowns and no interceptions in a game that comes down to the final minute of regulation. Arkansas 31, Mississippi State 27

WINNER: Arkansas

No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 12 South Carolina

Aschoff: The Bulldogs are turning into that early, trendy SEC East pick with all that defensive talent and experience returning. Expect Jacob Eason to hit more than a couple of big plays on that South Carolina secondary. Georgia 27, South Carolina 14

Ching: Jacob Eason and Nick Chubb team up against a rebuilding defense. Georgia 28, South Carolina 21

Khan: There's always a 5-12 upset in the NCAA tournament, right? Let's call it here. With a healthy Skai Moore in tow, Will Muschamp's defense shuts down the Bulldogs. South Carolina 17, Georgia 13

Ostendorf: The Gamecocks will be a team to watch this fall, but Georgia is just too talented. I see Nick Chubb and Sony Michel both racking up big yards. Georgia 35, South Carolina 17

Scarborough: Nick Chubb and Sony Michel run roughshod over a South Carolina front seven that still has a long way to go to be among the top half of the SEC. Georgia 28, South Carolina 18

WINNER: Georgia

No. 7 Tennessee vs. No. 10 Kentucky

Aschoff: While Tennessee's defense should be better this year, the Vols still are a total unknown overall. Kentucky might be down a couple of key offensive playmakers, but there's still plenty of firepower to make this Tennessee defense sick. Kentucky 31, Tennessee 27

Ching: I don't feel at all good about this pick. Tennessee 24, Kentucky 23

Khan: Benny Snell explodes for 150 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Wildcats to the upset. Kentucky 38, Tennessee 31

Ostendorf: Talk about two teams trending in opposite directions at the end of last season. Maybe the Volunteers will turn it around, but I don’t see them able to slow down Benny Snell. Kentucky 31, Tennessee 28

Scarborough: A last-minute field goal culminates the upset in which Benny Snell runs for more than 150 yards and two touchdowns. Kentucky 31, Tennessee 28

WINNER: Kentucky

No. 6 Texas A&M vs. No. 14 Missouri

Aschoff: Missouri's first-round upset shocked a few people, but don't count on a Cinderella run for the Tigers. Texas A&M has a lot of question marks, but the Aggies will answer a few on offense against a below-average Mizzou defense. Texas A&M 38, Missouri 28

Ching: The Tigers' upset train keeps rolling against a team that lost a lot on offense. Missouri 28, Texas A&M 24

Khan: In a down-to-the-wire contest, Aggies safety Armani Watts picks off Drew Lock in the end zone late in the fourth quarter to secure the win. Texas A&M 27, Missouri 23

Ostendorf: I don’t have a lot of faith in Texas A&M, but Christian Kirk is the best player on the field. He might score four touchdowns before it’s over. Texas A&M 31, Missouri 21

Scarborough: Missouri's run ends here as the Tigers can't find a way to stop Christian Kirk, who scores touchdowns on offense and special teams. Texas A&M 42, Missouri 28



No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 8 Arkansas

No. 4 Florida vs. No. 5 Georgia

No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 10 Kentucky

No. 3 LSU vs. No. 6 Texas A&M