The SEC has won between 28 and 40 college football national championships — depending on your source and school colors. Saturday Down South is ranking the conference’s 10 greatest national champions, acknowledging history while bowing to progress.

The countdown continues …

No. 7: 2010 Auburn Tigers

Record: 14-0

PPG: 41.2

Allowed: 24.1

SRS: 20.66. SRS combines margin of victory and strength of schedule, where 0 is average. The higher the number, the more dominant the team. Auburn’s SRS was 2 points higher than the vaunted 1992 Alabama championship squad, which went 13-0 against a schedule measured at just 2.74. Auburn’s SOS was more than twice as difficult.

Statistical oddity: recently fired up its simulator and concluded that this Tigers team would have finished 18th among the 18 BCS-era national champions. Of course, that same simulator predicted Alabama would lose to Clemson in the 2016 championship game, after giving Michigan State nearly a 49 percent chance to beat Alabama in the semifinals. So … not exactly perfect. Fact is, the 2010 Tigers beat six ranked teams, including three in the top 10. Three times, they handed undefeated ranked teams their first loss — including Oregon in the BCS championship game.

Their case for greatness: Simply, Auburn had Cam Newton and its 14 opponents did not.

Newton’s season was one for the ages, always ranked among the greatest single-season performances in SEC history, usually in the mix with Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson and Tim Tebow for No. 1.

As with most stars, the better the competition, the better he performed.

Against No. 12 South Carolina, Newton rallied the Tigers out of a 20-7 deficit. He ran for three touchdowns and passed for two, accounting for all five of Auburn’s touchdowns in a 35-27 victory.

Against No. 12 Arkansas, Newton ran for 188 yards, passed for 170 and accounted for four touchdowns in a 65-43 shootout.

A week later against unbeaten and No. 6 LSU, Newton ran for 217 yards and two touchdowns against the nation’s No. 1 defense. He topped 1,000 yards rushing, breaking the SEC record for quarterbacks.

Of course, he was far from finished.

Never Again

The Comeback. Or The Collapse.

How fans remember the 2010 Iron Bowl depends entirely on their school allegiance.

The animosity runs deep, and it runs year-round, so it was no surprise Alabama blared “Take the Money and Run” as Newton warmed up at Bryant-Denny.

“We all started laughing when we heard about the song,” Auburn center Ryan Pugh told “Only in this rivalry would that happen. I’m not sure we wouldn’t have done that ourself.”

Alabama, ranked No. 11, raced to a 24-0 lead, scoring 21 points before Auburn recorded a first down.

To that point, Newton, the clear Heisman frontrunner, had been sacked twice and completed just one pass.

The 2010 Tigers team often is described as a one-man band, but a backup singer made the key play that led to the greatest comeback — or worst collapse — in Iron Bowl history.

Alabama was driving again when Greg McElroy hit 2009 Heisman winner Mark Ingram on a short screen pass over the middle. Ingram got to the sideline and raced past Auburn’s bench toward the end zone.

Auburn defensive end Antoine Carter gave chase. He eventually caught Ingram and punched the ball out of his hands. Defying laws of physics, the ball somehow stayed in bounds. Auburn recovered in the end zone.

“It’s so crazy how everything happened because the ball literally went straight down the sideline when it should have gone out of bounds,” safety Zac Etheridge told “You could just see the whole momentum change on just that one play.”

“That ball tightroped down the edge of the boundary,” former Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof said. “It rolled like this instead of rolling like that. It was a good break, but it was a break that was made by great effort.”

Newton pounced on Auburn’s second chance.

He threw a touchdown pass to make it 24-7 before halftime.

He opened the third quarter with a 70-yard TD strike on the second play and ran for a 1-yard TD to pull Auburn with 24-21. After Alabama kicked a field goal, Newton hit tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen for a 7-yard touchdown to cap not only the largest comeback in Iron Bowl history, but the largest comeback Alabama had ever allowed.

“That was a game that will certainly go down in history,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik told reporters. “It’s hard to come back when you’re down 24-0 against anybody.”

“Living the dream”

South Carolina got a second chance at Newton and the Tigers in the 2010 SEC Championship Game.

No comeback was necessary this time.

Newton threw for a career-best 335 yards and accounted for 6 TDs in a 56-17 blowout — the largest victory margin in SEC title game history.

“You can’t tackle him,” Spurrier told reporters. “He’s almost a one-man show but those guys really help and their receivers are really good. With that offensive line and him, it’s hard to stop him.”

“I’ve just been living the dream,” Newton told reporters.

The dream continued, first in New York, where Newton earned the Heisman Trophy by one of the 10 largest margins in voting history.

In the BCS Championship Game, Newton threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns as Auburn held off unbeaten and No. 2-ranked Oregon 22-19 to win their first national championship since 1957.

“Fifty-three years, baby!” Chizik yelled to Auburn fans. “This is for you. War Eagle!”, incidentally, predicted Oregon would beat Auburn 69.3 percent of the time, by an average score of 38-32.

Clearly their computers — or computer programmers — never had to tackle Cam Newton.

Top 10 SEC national champions

No. 10: 1961 Alabama: Greatest defense gives Bear first title

No. 9: 1980 Georgia: Herschel Walker and Run, Lindsay, Run

No. 8: A battle of Alabama caps golden era