GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida players jumped around on the sideline, then rushed the field in celebration.
It was more like a collective sigh of relief.
The seventh-ranked Gators staved off the biggest upset in school history Saturday, but couldn’t get the help needed to win the Southeastern Conference’s Eastern Division.
Jelani Jenkins returned a blocked punt 36 yards for a touchdown with 2 seconds remaining, capping the comeback and giving Florida a 27-20 victory against Louisiana-Lafayette.
“I’m speechless,” said Florida cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, who blocked the kick. “I’ve never seen a game end like that. We overcome adversity. That’s what we do.”
The Gators (9-1) needed Auburn to upset Georgia later in the day, but the Bulldogs won 38-0 and clinched a spot in the league title game.
The Rajin’ Cajuns (5-4) led 17-13 in the third quarter after Alonzo Harris’ 2-yard run and a blocked punt for a touchdown on the ensuing drive. Brett Baer’s 22-yard field goal – a huge stand for Florida’s defense –made it 20-13 early in the fourth.
But Florida backup Jacoby Brissett, filling in for the injured Jeff Driskel, rallied the Gators.
NO. 9 LOUISIANA STATE 37, NO. 23 MISSISSIPPI STATE 17
In Baton Rouge, La., Zach Mettenberger passed for 273 yards and two touchdowns, and Louisiana State kept alive faint hope of an SEC title with a victory over Mississippi State.
Looking sharp a second consecutive week, Mettenberger completed 19 of 30 passes without an interception. His top target was Jarvis Landry, who had nine catches for 109 yards – both career highs – including a 19-yard touchdown to help the Tigers (8-2, 4-2 SEC) beat the Bulldogs (7-3, 3-3) for the 13th consecutive time.
Mettenberger’s other scoring pass went to Spencer Ware, fullback J.C. Copeland scored on a 1-yard plunge and Craig Loston returned an interception 100 yards for a score.
Tyler Russell was 26 of 38 for 295 yards and a touchdown that got the Bulldogs as close as field goal in the third quarter before they faded in their third consecutive loss to a ranked team.
MISSOURI 51, TENNESSEE 48 (4OT)
In Knoxville, Tenn., Andrew Baggett kicked a 35-yard field goal in the fourth overtime as Missouri rallied from a two-touchdown halftime deficit to beat Tennessee.
Missouri forced overtime when James Franklin threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Dorial Green-Beckham on a fourth-and-12 play with 47 seconds remaining.
Missouri’s defense came through in the fourth overtime when safety Ian Simon broke up a fourth-and-3 pass to Zach Rogers from the Missouri 18.
Franklin threw four touchdown passes and Kendial Lawrence ran for two scores for Missouri (5-5, 2-5).
Tyler Bray threw for 404 yards and four touchdowns for Tennessee (4-6, 0-6).
VANDERBILT 27, MISSISSIPPI 26
In Oxford, Miss., Jordan Rodgers hit Chris Boyd for a 26-yard touchdown pass with 52 seconds remaining and Vanderbilt rallied for a victory over Mississippi.
The Commodores (6-4, 3-3 SEC) are now bowl eligible for the second consecutive season for the first time in school history.
Vanderbilt trailed 23-6 early in the third quarter, but Rodgers found Jordan Matthews for a 52-yard touchdown minutes later to start the Commodores rally.