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Florida can't clinch SEC East against Georgia, thanks to Vanderbilt

I forgot Vanderbilt. Never forget Vanderbilt.

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Last Monday, I wrote at length about the SEC East, and specifically Florida's chances of winning it. That post contained the assertion that Florida could clinch the division title for the first time since 2009 with a win over Georgia if Kentucky and Tennessee lost their next games.

That was wrong. On Saturday, Kentucky and Tennessee lost those games, but Florida still can't clinch against the Bulldogs — thanks mostly to Vanderbilt, of all teams.

Such is the screwy nature of the Commodores' back-loaded schedule, which still has four SEC games left, and Vandy's privilege of being one of two teams (Georgia's the other) that can still beat Florida and finish with no more than three SEC losses.

In Vanderbilt's best-case scenario, in fact, the Commodores would be the only SEC East team with a winning record. That requires:

  • Vanderbilt winning out, which would get the Commodores to 5-3 in SEC play
  • Florida losing out, and falling to 4-4 in SEC play
  • Georgia losing to Kentucky and Auburn after beating Florida, and finishing 4-4

Missouri and South Carolina already have four losses, and Vanderbilt would give Kentucky and Tennessee their fourth losses by winning out.

To reiterate: That's Vandy's best-case scenario. But there's also a simple one in which the Gators win Saturday against Georgia and the Commodores still manage to win the East.

In that scenario, Florida follows that Georgia win by losing its final two SEC games against the 'Dores and South Carolina, falling to 5-3 in conference play. Vanderbilt wins out, getting to 5-3 and giving Kentucky and Tennessee four losses in SEC play. And Georgia simply loses to either Kentucky or Auburn, falling to 4-4 in SEC play.

That would allow Florida and Vanderbilt to tie for the East lead, and for Vanderbilt to claim the title by virtue of its head-to-head win against the Gators.

How did I miss that? Basically, because I'm an idiot, I failed to see how Vanderbilt — then 0-3 in SEC play in 2015, and winless in SEC play in a season and a half under Derek Mason — could get to 5-3, and wrote that post as if the 'Dores didn't matter.  That's my bad, and I'm sorry for it; I've updated that post to reflect the necessity of the Vandy loss that didn't happen (Florida could have clinched against Georgia if Vandy had lost, I believe), and appended a note at the bottom of the post.

To be clear: Thanks to that Vandy win over Missouri on Saturday, Florida cannot clinch the SEC East with a win over Georgia in Jacksonville alone. And the Gators can't win on Saturday and watch for a Vandy loss, either — the Commodores are playing Houston, and will come to Gainesville no worse than 1-3 in SEC play.

If Florida does win in Jacksonville, though, that Homecoming game with Vandy will be the Gators' first potential SEC East-clincher since its 2012 showdown with Georgia.

(Thanks to Thomas Goldkamp for noting Vanderbilt's win and checking me.)