Best non-SEC Championship teams since 1992
Third, sometimes, fourth-place teams are rarely mentioned among the SEC’s best over the last two decades. We’re here to help you remember:
Editor’s note: SEC Championship Game participants were not eligible for this ranking.
10a. 2003 Ole Miss (10-3, 7-1): Led by No. 1 draft pick Eli Manning, the Rebels beat three nationally-ranked teams and came four points away from finishing a sparking 8-0 against the SEC (only loss to LSU in-conference). It was Mississippi’s only share of the Western Division title since the league was split into sides in 1992. The Rebels finished No. 13 in the final AP Poll.
10b. 2014 Mississippi State (10-3, 6-2): Most fans will remember how the 2014 season ended instead of how it began for a team picked to finish at the bottom of the SEC West. Aided by Heisman candidate Dak Prescott, the Bulldogs won three straight games over Top 10 teams for the first time in program history during their midseason rise to No. 1 and began the season a record-setting 9-0. Three losses over its final four games for Mississippi State led to a No. 11 ranking.
9. 2010 LSU (11-2, 6-2): Behind unbeaten national champion Auburn, the Tigers were the SEC’s highest finisher at No. 8 in the AP Poll following a splendid season featuring five wins over teams ranked inside the Top 25. Patrick Peterson was one of six players drafted off that season’s squad.
8. 2013 Alabama (11-2, 7-1): The Crimson Tide were No. 1 for 14 straight weeks during an 11-0 start before Auburn’s kick-six miracle derailed a national championship-caliber season and ultimately Alabama’s bid for another SEC title. The loss lingered as Saban’s squad fell to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, 45-31. The Crimson Tide, backed by three wins over ranked teams, finished No. 7.
7. 2011 Arkansas (11-2, 6-2): The Razorbacks’ third 11-win season in Arkansas’ 119-year football history came in Bobby Petrino’s final campaign, one led by junior quarterback Tyler Wilson. The Razorbacks were ranked inside the Top 15 every week of the season and finished with four wins over Top 15 trams, their only losses coming to third-ranked Alabama and top-ranked LSU. Arkansas was one of a record-number three teams in the SEC West to finish in the Top 5.
6. 2012 Texas A&M (11-2, 6-2): Headlined by record-setting Heisman quarterback Johnny Manziel, the Aggies burst onto the SEC scene with a spectacular offense which led the program to four wins over ranked teams highlighted by a memorable victory at No. 1 and defending national champion Alabama. Texas A&M obliterated 12th-ranked Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl to finish No. 5 in the final AP Poll, its highest spot since 1956.
5. 2013 South Carolina (11-2, 6-2): The Gamecocks’ third straight 11-win season came in the career finale for Connor Shaw, the winningest quarterback in program history who never lost a home start. South Carolina finished with its highest ranking ever (No. 4) and beat two Top 10 teams before capping it off with a win over 19th-ranked Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl. 2011 All-American defensive end Jadeveon Clowney went No. 1 in the draft a few months later.
4. 2006 LSU (11-2, 6-2): An incredible four first-round picks helped the Tigers finish No. 3 in the final rankings following an emphatic 41-14 blasting of Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. Several All-Americans, including Glenn Dorsey, Dwayne Bowe and LaRon Landry, highlighted one of Les Miles’ most talent-rich teams during his tenure in Baton Rouge.
3. 2001 Florida (10-2, 6-2): The Head Ball Coach’s final season with the Gators six wins over ranked teams by an average of 31.5 points per game, but narrow losses to Auburn and fifth-ranked Tennessee in the regular-season finale kept Florida out of Atlanta. One of the nation’s top passers, Rex Grossman, threw for 4,144 yards and 38 touchdowns.
2. 1995 Tennessee (11-1, 7-1): Had it not been for a wild 62-37 loss in Gainesville to Steve Spurrier’s Fun-N-Gun during Week 3, the Vols would’ve likely won the national championship with one of the nation’s most dominant offenses. Tennessee won its final nine games (including three victories over teams inside the Top 18) to finish No. 3 overall.
1. 2011 Alabama (12-1, 7-1): Defined by a once-in-a-generation defense which led the nation in nearly every major statistical category, a team filled with All-Americans overcame an overtime loss to LSU during the regular season to blank the Tigers in the BCS Championship Game, 21-0. Eight players were drafted off one of Nick Saban’s best teams ever.
Just missed the cut: 1996 Tennessee (10-2); 2006 Auburn (11-2); 1997 Florida (10-2); 2011-12 South Carolina (11-2); 2012 Florida (11-2); 2003 Tennessee (10-3); 2004 Georgia (10-2); 1998 Florida (10-2)