If there is a silver lining to Tennessee's humbling 63-38 defeat Saturday night inside South Carolina's Williams-Brice Stadium, it's that the Volunteers were cause for a field storming.
Tennessee has played the role of David and Goliath in Josh Heupel's second season, serving as the jubilant underdog who finally toppled Alabama last month inside Neyland Stadium and as a national championship contender now forced to readjust its postseason plans.
"It's a memory you've got to keep in your head going forward," Vols sixth-year senior defensive tackle LaTrell Bumphus said. "It's a feeling you don't ever want to feel again, and we've got to use that as motivation."
Despite urges over the public-address system not to rush the field, Gamecocks fans quickly swarmed down from the stands to celebrate the program's biggest victory since a 35-21 downing of No. 1 Alabama in 2010. South Carolina second-year coach Shane Beamer was the safeties coach, special teams coach and recruiting coordinator that season under Steve Spurrier.
Beamer now has a field-storming game as the man in charge — "That was a lot of years of our fan base wanting to do that," he said — and no reporter late Saturday night was safe from his ridicule.
"Y'all's predictions for this game were about the worst I've ever seen," he said. "I read some of them in the hotel today. I've been saying it every week, and y'all think I'm wrong, but we've got a good football team. I get it. We played like crap last week (in a 38-6 loss at Florida), but good football teams have bad nights or even bad stretches.
"Every single person in here thought they knew how this game was going to go. Every person in here thought, 'We've seen this story before.' This is a new Carolina, guys."
Tennessee players made it out of the postgame scene unscathed physically, but the mental images could remain for quite some time.
"We had an idea (the field storming was coming), but other than that, you just try and get out of there," Vols fifth-year senior left guard Jerome Carvin said. "You try to get out of that situation and make sure everybody is safe, and that's from the equipment guys to the players to the support staff."
The Vols dropped to ninth in Sunday's Associated Press poll and to 11th in the USA Today coaches poll. One of the more amazing aspects to Tennessee's run this year is how the Vols never seemed to backtrack, but the 27-13 loss at Georgia served as an example and Saturday night served as the definition.
"We've got to respond," Carvin said. "Some of that is going to be on the leaders. It's going to be on us. This was unfortunate, but we've got to keep pushing, because we still have some ballgames to play. We've got to keep pushing."
Said Heupel: "We'll come out of this one and evaluate everything."
Up next for Tennessee is suddenly surging Vanderbilt, which followed up a 24-21 win at Kentucky with a 31-24 downing of Florida in Nashville.
Vandy second-year coach Clark Lea was overcome by emotion in Lexington after the Commodores ended their 26-game league losing streak, but there were no tears after a first home win against the Gators since 1988.
"I can't say enough about this being a new era in Vanderbilt football and this being a point that we look back on and see where this shift happened," Lea said Saturday in a news conference. "That does not mean we've arrived. This is another step in our journey, but we're starting to see what's possible here with continued effort and continued support."
When asked about this week's arrival by the Vols, Lea said: "We know the next opponent, but we're interested in playing at our highest level. We're not going to add unnecessary emotions to that."
Lea also wasn't up for much discussion of Tennessee's expected crowd advantage at FirstBank Stadium.
"That's not a part of my job," Lea said. "I'm preparing the team, and hopefully people are paying attention to what we're doing."
Texas A&M's famous "12th Man" support at Kyle Field was mocked Saturday, as 12 men looked more like the actual Kyle Field attendance as the Aggies delivered an uninspiring 20-3 victory over UMass.
"We're all disappointed, and we're not where we want to be," Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher said, "but they'll be packed out here next week when we play LSU. I'm sure they'll be here."
Ole Miss followed up its 30-24 home loss to Alabama with a 42-27 defeat at Arkansas that was 42-6 early in the third quarter.
"This was very disappointing," Rebels coach Lane Kiffin said. "Obviously we came here with a lot on the line with potentially getting to nine wins in trying to get to 10. I know this will probably sound crazy because of the score, but I don't feel like we came out flat.
"We were moving the ball. We just played really poor in the red zone and had two touchdown passes called back."
The Rebels racked up 703 yards of total offense but turned the ball over three times against the mistake-free Razorbacks.
Alabama's Nick Saban was asked after Saturday's 34-0 blanking of Austin Peay what went into the decision of keeping his starters in the game into the fourth quarter.
"I don't know. What would be into the decision to take them out?" Saban said. "I wanted (backup quarterback) Jalen Milroe to play in the game with good players, so he played one drive with that group, and then we put the second team in. If that's the only thing we've got to complain about today, then I think God has blessed me."
The Lexington Herald-Leader reported Sunday that 10th-year Kentucky coach Mark Stoops agreed to a contract extension earlier this month that includes a significant raise that could place him in the $9 million neighborhood and among the 10 highest-paid coaches next season.
Stoops, who is the program's wins leader with a 65-58 record and has the 6-5 Wildcats bowl eligible for a seventh straight season, signed the deal a day before losing to Vandy.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org.