The SEC split into two divisions starting with the 1992 season. And over that time, numerous conference teams have had great years.
But in what amounts to nearly the last quarter century, which seasons have been the best for each SEC school?
Here’s a look at the best season for each SEC team since 1992.
The Crimson Tide has had an incredible run since 1992, when a Gene Stallings-coached Bama squad finished 13-0 by beating the Miami Hurricanes in the Sugar Bowl to win the national championship. That team won by an average of 18.8 points per game and pitched three shutouts. Meanwhile, Nick Saban’s 2009 squad, his first national championship team in Tuscaloosa, had only one shutout victory that year, but it beat its opponents by 22.6 points per contest while going 14-0 to be Bama’s best team over the last 24 seasons.
The 2011 Razorback team led by Bobby Petrino finished 11-2 after beating Kansas State 29-16 in the Cotton Bowl. It was only the third 11-win season in Arkansas history, and the Hogs finished fifth in the final AP Poll – the school’s highest national ranking since finishing third in 1977.
The Tigers have actually had three unbeaten teams since ’92 but only one officially recognized national champion over that span. Led by Hesiman Trophy winner Cam Newton, the 2010 Auburn squad beat Oregon 22-19 in the BCS National Championship Game to finish 14-0. One Tiger team that deserves honorable mention is the 2004 squad that finished second in both the AP and Coaches’ polls despite beating Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl to finish 13-0. Auburn also went undefeated in 1993, but that 11-0 team was banned from postseason play because it was on probation.
The Gators’ three championship teams over the span we are covering were each impressive in their own right. The 2006 squad finished 13-1 while scoring 396 points and allowing 189. UF also went 13-1 while outscoring opponents 611-181 in 2008. The 1996 club also scored 611 points – while finishing 12-1 – and allowed 221. It’s a tough call, but we’ll give the nod to the ’08 team, which arguably had the best defense of the three and a starting QB by the name of Tim Tebow.
At 13-1, Mark Richt’s 2002 squad had the Bulldogs’ best record since 1992, and finished third in the final AP poll after winning the SEC East and beating Arkansas 30-3 in the conference championship game. The 11-2 2007 team finished with Georgia’s highest AP ranking (No. 2) since the Bulldogs’ last championship season in 1980, when they finished 12-0. The ’07 group tied for first place in the SEC East but lost a tiebreaker with Tennessee. Those Bulldogs capped their season with a 41-10 victory over Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl.
The 2007 team coached by Rich Brooks gets the nod. That squad, which was ranked eighth in the AP poll before losing 38-23 to 11th-ranked South Carolina, finished 8-5 after beating Florida State 35-28 in the Music City Bowl.
The Tiger teams of 2003 and 2007 both won national championships. The Les Miles-led ’07 squad finished 12-2 after beating Ohio State 38-24 in the BCS National Championship Game. The Saban-guided ’03 group went 13-1 following its 21-14 win over Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl and gets the nod because of its better record and better defense. Saban’s LSU title team allowed an FBS-best 11.0 points per game.
The 1999 squad that went 10-2 has had the Bulldogs’ best record since ’92, but the 2014 team has been their best since. It was ranked No. 1 for the first time in school history, started off 9-0 and spent three weeks atop the AP poll before losing to Alabama. Despite losing three of its last four games the 2014 Bulldogs still finished 10-3 for only the third 10-win season in school history and finished 11th in the final AP poll – their second-highest postseason ranking since the 1940 squad went 10-0-1 to end the year ranked ninth.
The Gary Pinkel-led 2007 squad was Missouri’s best since 1960, when the Tigers went 11-0 after the NCAA gave them a forfeit win over Kansas. That Dan Devine-led team finished fifth in the final AP poll. Eight seasons ago, Mizzou capped a 12-2 year with a 38-7 victory over Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl and ranked fourth in the final AP poll.
The 2015 team matched the 2003 Rebels with a 10-3 record but finished with a higher final AP ranking – 10th compared to 13th. Last year, Hugh Freeze’s squad peaked at No. 3 in the AP poll during the regular season – a position matched by the 2014 team and Ole Miss’ highest spot since the Rebels reached No. 1 in 1964 before finishing 5-5-1.
Under Steve Spurrier, the Gamecocks went 11-2 in three straight seasons from 2011-13, but the 2011 squad gets the nod because it finished fourth in the final AP poll; the 2011 and 2012 teams finished ninth and eighth, respectively.
This one’s easy. The 1998 Volunteer squad, which beat Florida State 23-16 to win the BCS National Championship and finish 13-0, is the greatest team in Tennessee history.
The 2012 team that capped an 11-2 season by routing Oklahoma 41-13 in the Cotton Bowl and finished fifth in the final AP poll has been the best. The 1992 Aggies, who went 12-1, come close, but the 2012 squad had a much tougher strength-of-schedule rating.
Vanderbilt has never had a 10-win season. Both the 2012 and 2013 teams coached by James Franklin finished 9-4, but the ’12 squad gets the edge for several reasons. It closed the season on a longer winning streak than the ’13 team did (6 games as opposed to 5), it had a better SEC record (5-3 vs. 4-4) and its .692 winning percentage was Vandy’s highest since 1955, when the Commodores went 8-3 (.727).