GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida is back in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game for the first time since 2009.
Austin Hardin’s 43-yard field goal with 2:22 remaining helped the Gators beat pesky Vanderbilt 9-7 on Saturday and clinch a spot in Atlanta.
Order restored – barely.
The Gators (8-1, 6-1), No. 10 in the College Football Playoff rankings, won the Eastern Division for the first time since Tim Tebow’s senior season – and did it in coach Jim McElwain’s first season. McElwain’s mantra all season has been “restore the order” by getting Florida back to the top of the division.
Vanderbilt nearly wrecked it.
The Commodores (3-6, 1-4) held Florida to 258 yards, including 57 in the second half. But the Gators did just enough on their next-to-last possession to set up Hardin’s winning kick.
Hardin, who only handled kickoffs earlier in the game, drilled it.
Vanderbilt had one final chance, but failed to pick up a first down on a fourth-and-25 play. The Commodores gained positive yardage once in eight plays, but were aided by a holding call on fourth down and a targeting call a few plays later.
The Gators took a knee from there, setting off a wild celebration that Florida fans have been waiting on for years.
For half the game, it looked like Florida would leave the Swamp empty-handed.
Kelvin Taylor was stuffed most of the game, finishing with 47 yards rushing and a touchdown on 17 carries. Treon Harris completed 12 of 24 passes for 158 yards and was sacked three times.
Florida’s main problem was turnovers. The Gators turned the ball over four times.
OXFORD, Miss. — Brandon Allen threw his sixth touchdown pass and then ran for a 2-point conversion to lead Arkansas (5-4, 3-2) to an improbable overtime win over Mississippi (7-3, 4-2, No. 18 CFP).
Arkansas pulled off the victory thanks to two wild plays in overtime.
The Razorbacks kept the game alive on fourth-and-25 when Allen completed a pass to Hunter Henry, who flung the ball backward and Alex Collins picked it up on the bounce and then ran it for a 31-yard gain.
After Arkansas scored its overtime touchdown, its first attempt at the 2-point conversion failed but Ole Miss’ Marquis Haynes was called for a face mask penalty which gave the Razorbacks another chance.
Allen threw for a career-high 442 yards.
Ole Miss (7-3, 4-2) lost despite three passing touchdowns and three rushing touchdowns by Chad Kelly.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Jovon Robinson ran for 159 yards and a touchdown and Auburn (5-4, 2-4) intercepted three passes in a victory over Texas A&M (6-3, 3-3, No. 19 CFP).
Jeremy Johnson wasn’t flashy, but was effective in his first start since Auburn’s third game with Sean White out with an injured left knee. He finished with 132 yards and a touchdown.
Aggies quarterback Kyler Murray threw three interceptions.
Murray threw for 105 yards in his second start since Kyle Allen was benched before leaving after a hit to the head late in the third quarter. Jake Hubenak took over for Texas A&M and threw for 32 yards and a touchdown.