Close calls

When Tennessee's record slipped to 4-3 following an ugly 41-17 loss at Alabama, head coach Phillip Fulmer seemed to be on shaky ground. Ultimately, he saved his job by three feet.

Those feet belonged to Ryan Succop, Bryant Hahnfeldt and Lones Seiber.

Succop missed a 40-yard field goal in overtime, enabling Tennessee to trim South Carolina 27-24.

Hahnfeldt missed a 49-yard field goal with 33 seconds left in regulation, enabling Tennessee to nip Vanderbilt 25-24.

Seiber had a 35-yard field goal blocked in double overtime, enabling Tennessee to edge Kentucky 52-50 in four OTs.

Those three field goals were the difference between Tennessee going 9-3 and going 6-6 ... between the Vols finishing 6-2 in SEC play and finishing 3-5 ... between Fulmer getting a raise and perhaps getting a pink slip.

It's amazing to think that three kicks saved a team's season and a coach's job ... but that's essentially what happened. Tennessee wasn't the only SEC program whose 2007 season hinged on a few plays here and there, however. It happened all over the league.

Consider:

- Alabama was 12 points from being 3-9 instead of 6-6. The Tide edged Arkansas (41-38) and Ole Miss (27-24) by three points each and trimmed Houston (30-24) by six.

- Arkansas was five points from being 10-2 instead of 8-4. The Razorbacks lost to Alabama (41-38) by three and to Auburn (9-7) by two.

- Auburn was 14 points from being 11-1 instead of 8-4. The Tigers lost to South Florida (26-23 in overtime) by three, to Mississippi State (19-14) by five and to LSU (30-24) by six.

- Florida was seven points from being 11-1 instead of 9-3. The Gators lost to Auburn (20-17) by three and to LSU (28-24) by four.

- Georgia was six points from being 8-4 instead of 10-2. The Bulldogs beat Alabama (26-23 in overtime) and Vanderbilt (20-17) by three points each.

- Kentucky was 12 points from being 5-7 instead of 7-5. The Wildcats beat Louisville (40-34) and LSU (43-37, 3 OTs) by six points each.

- LSU was two triple-overtimes from being 13-0 instead of 11-2. The Tigers lost to both Kentucky (43-37) and Arkansas (50-48) in three extra periods.

- Ole Miss was 12 points from being 6-6 instead of 3-9. The Rebels lost to Florida (30-24) by six, to Alabama (27-24) and Mississippi State (17-14) by three points each.

- Mississippi State was 13 points from being 4-8 instead of 7-5. The Bulldogs beat Auburn (19-14) and Alabama (17-12) by five points each and beat Ole Miss (17-14) by three.

- South Carolina was five points from being 8-4 instead of 6-6. The Gamecocks lost to Tennessee (27-24, overtime) by three and to Clemson (23-21) by two. Conversely, the Cocks were just 10 points from being 4-8 instead of 6-6. They beat Georgia (16-12) by four and North Carolina (21-15) by six.

- Vanderbilt was four points from being 7-5 instead of 5-7. The Commodores lost to Georgia (20-17) by three and to Tennessee (25-24) by one.

Bottom line: Just as many SEC games in 2007 were decided by a few plays that could've gone either way, many SEC seasons were decided by a few outcomes that could've gone either way.


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