Everybody loses games sometimes. But everybody doesn’t gag up home games to FCS opponents, or four-touchdown underdogs. Everybody doesn’t cough up 34- or 35-point leads. But in the past five years, SEC teams have had all of these things happen.
Whose losses are the worst?
Well, we broke down 10 particularly bad non-conference losses from the past five seasons. We thought about who was most heavily favored but lost. We thought about who had games in hand and lost. Mostly, we just thought about who lost. So here they are, your 10 worst SEC non-conference losses of the past five seasons:
10) LSU vs. Wisconsin 2016
Sure, the Badgers weren’t exactly chopped liver. But the Tigers were No. 5 in the nation and had national title buzz heading into this opening week showdown, which had them as an 11 point favorite. After the 16-14 loss, the skids were greased for Les Miles’s departure three games later.
9) Kentucky vs. Southern Miss 2016
While UK was just a six-point favorite, it certainly seemed home free after jumping to a 35-10 advantage in the final minutes of the first half. A late touchdown moved Southern Miss to within 18 points, and then it won the second half 27-0 to shock Kentucky by a 44-35 count. If not for the emergence of backup QB Stephen Johnson two weeks later, this game might have cost Mark Stoops his job.
8) Missouri vs. Purdue 2017
The Tigers were coming off a tough loss to South Carolina, but were expected to get better quickly by hosting Purdue, who had brought in first-year head coach Jeff Brohm after going 9-39 in four years under Darrell Hazell. Mizzou was a 5 1/2-point favorite, but not only did it not cover (or win), it was blasted in its own house by the Boilermakers, 35-3. Purdue had two QBs who threw for touchdowns— more impressive since Missouri didn’t score a touchdown in the game.
7) Vanderbilt vs. Temple 2014
Coming off two consecutive nine-win seasons under James Franklin, Vandy brought in new head coach Derek Mason by hosting Temple, who had gone 2-10 the previous year in the AAC. Vandy was a 13 1/2-point favorite, but the game was never close, as Temple crushed Vanderbilt in Nashville, 37-7. A swing of 43 1/2 points from the betting line might be a record of some sort.
6) South Carolina vs. The Citadel 2015
Maybe Steve Spurrier saw it coming. He had resigned as head coach earlier in the season and South Carolina was playing out the string of a hopeless season. Enter The Citadel, a military-based FCS school that was a 20-point underdog to a 3-7 Carolina team. The Citadel won 23-22, and after losing to Clemson the following week, Carolina ended 2015 as the third-best football team in South Carolina.
5) Florida vs. Georgia Southern 2013
Ah, Will Muschamp, this was the game that made official the slide from going 11-2 and playing in the Sugar Bowl in your second season to being fired after your fourth season. Florida had struggled, but even at 4-6, it was a 28-point favorite over Georgia Southern, which was a 6-4 team playing in its last game as an FCS school. Southern went out as winners, 26-20, in one of the biggest shockers in the history of The Swamp.
4) Arkansas/Toledo 2015
The Razorbacks were No. 18 in the country in the second week of 2015. That came crashing down with a Little Rock meeting with MAC foe Toledo, who came to town as a 21 1/2-point underdog and beat Arkansas 16-12. To that point, Bret Bielema’s coaching tenure at Arkansas was on a consistent uptick. If it ends soon, as is looking increasingly likely, this game was probably the turning point.
3) Texas A&M vs. UCLA 2017
This one isn’t about the quality of opponent, although UCLA isn’t going to the Rose Bowl this year or anything. With a 44-10 lead and under five minutes to play in the third quarter, the worst team ever should be able to grind out a solid two- or three-score victory. The Aggies couldn’t, losing 45-44. There’s no shame in losing to UCLA. There is shame in a historic choke job.
2) LSU vs. Troy 2017
Favored by around three touchdowns, the Tigers were shut out in the first half and trailed by three scores before rallying to move the game to a respectable final total of 24-21. Still, a homecoming loss to a non-P5 opponent? Ugly.
1) South Alabama vs. Mississippi State 2016
A 28 1/2-point favorite in the first game after the loss of Dak Prescott, the Bulldogs played ugly, passing for just 143 yards and giving up 285 to USA. When a short Westin Graves field goal hit the upright in the final minute, the Bulldogs had lost a shocker, and went on to stumble to their first losing season since 2009.