A stunned Larry Rountree III heard the shouting from his room. He knew why. On the other side of the door, Kam Scott and Jalen Knox were running down the hallway, not to be contained by their own room. Rountree described the sound as something like this: “AAAAAHHHHHHHH!!”
That was the mood inside the Missouri football team hotel Saturday afternoon after No. 3 Georgia was upset by South Carolina in double overtime, opening the door for the Tigers to jump into first place in the SEC East by the end of the night.
“It was crazy, man,” Rountree said.
Missouri (5-1, 2-0 SEC) is one of three SEC teams still unbeaten in conference play after a wild Saturday, matched only by Alabama and LSU. As MU’s 38-27 win over Ole Miss was playing out Saturday night, another SEC East foe in Florida was suffering its first loss of the season, 42-28 to LSU. Florida is second in the division at 3-1. Georgia follows at 2-1.
South Carolina’s 20-17 afternoon shocker at Georgia’s Sanford Stadium set up the plot twist in the standings.
Missouri players were scattered throughout the team hotel during the game. Linebacker Nick Bolton was in a meeting, so he only started watching in the last two minutes of regulation, as Georgia scored a tying touchdown then both teams missed last-minute chances to win. As overtime began, several MU players thought back to their 34-14 win over South Carolina this season.
“We just wanted our win to look good,” Bolton said.
“Yeah, we were kind of rooting for South Carolina in that one,” said running back Tyler Badie.
Georgia’s Jake Fromm threw an interception that gave the Gamecocks a chance to win in the first overtime. But they in turn missed a field goal that extended the game to double OT.
MU quarterback Kelly Bryant was downstairs at the hotel, away from many of his teammates. He had noticed the game was close and stopped to watch on a nearby TV. He watched as South Carolina was held to a field goal for a 20-17 lead in 2OT, giving Georgia a chance to win with a touchdown. Bryant watched the Bulldogs go three-and-out, bringing out elite kicker Rodrigo Blankenship for a 42-yard kick that would send the game to triple overtime.
Except it didn’t. Wide left. Game over.
“There was a little uproar,” Badie said with a grin. “We were kind of excited.”
Scott and Knox went running between teammates’ rooms to share in the shock of the upset.
“We were kind of surprised to see Georgia lose like that,” said receiver Johnathon Johnson. “Kind of surprised to see them lose to (South Carolina). But you never know, it’s the SEC. Anything can happen.”
“I’m from Georgia, so you know how I feel about that,” said defensive end Jatorian Hansford. “I was pretty happy they lost.”
“Everybody ran,” Rountree said. “It was great.”
The Tigers had their fun in the upset’s aftermath, but they also didn’t want to be overly concerned with other results; they still had their own game to play that night. A team trainer told Rountree a story about one Saturday in 2008, when the Chase Daniel-led Tigers became too distracted by another game early in the day and ended up losing that night.
“That snapped me out of it,” Rountree said. “You’ve got to stay locked in. We’ve still got to take care of business.”
The Tigers did just that in a convincing win against Ole Miss. At the end of the night, Missouri was in first place in the division.
Players stressed a “1-0 next week” mindset after the game, pointing toward Vanderbilt next week in what will be the Tigers’ first game defending first place. They play their next three games on the road, culminating in a date with Georgia on the same field where South Carolina pulled off a shocker.
“At the end of the day,” Badie said, “we control our own destiny.”