7 biggest upsets in SEC Championship Game history
The SEC Championship Game has seen some upsets since the league split into divisions in 1992.
But perhaps not as many as you might think.
According to data complied by vegasinsider.com, the betting favorite has fallen in the SEC title game just five times in the game’s 26 editions.
We’ll take a look at each of those games plus two others where the bookmakers had one take on a game but the rankings told another story — in other words, the lower-ranked team was favored and won. So, here are the 7 biggest upsets in SEC Championship history, in order of how surprising they were.
7. Florida 31, Alabama 20, 2008
It’s impossible to imagine this now, but there was a time when Alabama could enter the SEC title game undefeated and ranked No. 1 … and be a 10-point underdog against the East Division winner.
Such was the power of Tim Tebow.
The Gators were No. 4 in the BCS rankings and were 11-1, steamrolling everyone after losing to Ole Miss. That defeat led to “The Promise” from Tebow, UF’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback. Sure enough, Tebow threw for 3 touchdowns against the Crimson Tide and led Florida back from a 20-17 deficit in Atlanta. The Gators went on to win their second national championship in three seasons.
According to the bookmakers this was not an upset, but we are including it because, again, Bama was unbeaten and No. 1 in all the rankings.
6. Georgia 28, Auburn 7, 2017
Auburn was higher ranked and dominated the previous meeting in the regular season. Yet the Bulldogs were installed as a 1.5-point favorite.
The Tigers were No. 2 and had their sights set on the College Football Playoff after taking a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. But the Bulldogs scored the final 28 points in the first SEC title game at Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm did not have spectacular statistics but was efficient enough, completing 16-of-22 for 183 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Dawgs, in typical fashion, did more damage on the ground with 238 rushing yards on 41 attempts.
Georgia vaulted from No. 6 into the final CFP rankings at No. 3 to secure a semifinal spot and West Division runner-up Alabama also got in as the No. 4 seed … and we know what happened after that.
5. Auburn 59, Missouri 42, 2013
Auburn was ranked No. 3 in the BCS, the other Tigers from Columbia were fifth. Yet Mizzou was a 2-point favorite.
Mizzou was in just its second season as a conference member. Behind running back Henry Josey, dual-threat quarterback James Franklin and a prolific offense, the Tigers won the East Division with a 7-1 conference record.
But in the title game, Mizzou had no answers for Auburn’s running attack. Tre Mason rushed for 303 yards and 4 touchdowns on an incredible 46 carries and quarterback Nick Marshall ran for 101 yards and a score. Marshall also threw for 2 TDs. Auburn went on to face Florida State and lose in the final BCS national championship game before the current CFP system began.
4. Georgia 34, LSU 14, 2005
LSU was a 2.5-point favorite and the Tigers, under coach Les Miles, wanted to make a case that they should be higher than No. 4 in the BCS standings.
Georgia rendered that argument moot.
The No. 13 Dawgs, in perhaps Mark Richt’s finest moment at their coach, got off to a fast 14-0 lead in the first quarter with two touchdown passes from D.J. Shockley to Sean Bailey. UGA only gained 250 total yards in the game but held the Tigers to 230, stifling future NFL No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell.
It was the second SEC title in four years for Georgia. The Bulldogs would not win another until 2017.
3. Alabama 32, Florida 13, 2009
Both teams were unbeaten but Florida was ranked No. 1 and was a 5-point favorite. Tebow was a senior. The Gators were defending champions, 12-0 and riding a 22-game winning streak.
No. 2 Alabama put a stop to all of that. If there’s a single day one can point to as the day coach Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide became college football’s singular superpower, this is it.
Mark Ingram rushed for 113 yards and 3 touchdowns on his way to setting Alabama’s single-season rushing record (since broken) and collecting the program’s first Heisman. The Crimson Tide went on to beat Texas in the BCS Championship Game for its first national title under Saban.
You might have heard, but it wasn’t Saban’s last.
One more thing: The East Division was 11-6 in the SEC title game coming into 2009. It has beaten the West representative just once since — last year.
2. Alabama 34, Florida 7, 1999
Florida and Alabama had identical 9-2 records coming in, but the No. 4-ranked Gators were a 7-point favorite over the No. 7 Crimson Tide.
The Gators got on the board first with a touchdown on a halfback pass from Earnest Graham to tight end Erron Kinney. Alabama struck back with three field goals by Ryan Pflugner and a touchdown.
The Gators were still in it early in the fourth quarter, trailing 15-7, but Alabama put the game away thanks to two touchdowns in an 18-second span. First Freddie Milons ran for a 77-yard touchdown to give the Crimson Tide a 22-7 lead. On the next UF possession, Reggie Grimes intercepted a deflected pass and rumbled 36 yards for a touchdown to put the game away for coach Mike Dubose’s Bama team:
1. LSU 31, Tennessee 20, 2001
Tennessee was favored by a touchdown and, at No. 2 in the BCS rankings, seemed to be in perfect position for its second national title game appearance in four years. Saban, in his second season coaching in Baton Rouge, brought the Tigers to their first SEC Championship Game appearance. LSU was not ranked by the BCS, No. 21 in the AP poll.
Spoiler alert — granted, not much of a spoiler since it’s No. 1 on our list of upsets — but Saban had his team ready.
Vols quarterback Casey Clausen passed for 332 yards and Tennessee outgained LSU 382-285. But LSU came back to win behind backup quarterback Matt Mauck, who entered after starter Rohan Davey was injured in the first half.
Mauck led two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter, capping one with a 13-yard scoring run. The Tigers captured their first SEC title since they were co-champs in 1988, and the first for their coach.
You might have heard, but it wasn’t Saban’s last.