How many Super Bowl MVPs have been from SEC schools?
The SEC has been widely regarded as the best conference in college football for over a decade, but the dominance started much earlier and doesn’t end with graduation.
SEC players have been winning Super Bowl MVPs since the game’s inception.
Almost 20 former SEC players will compete for the Eagles and Patriots in Super Bowl LII. Perhaps one will join this list of MVPs.
Giants QB Eli Manning (Ole Miss)
Eli will always be the Manning most known for his postseason success, as he beat arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady, twice on the game’s biggest stage.
Few would call Eli an all-time great QB based on his stats, but he has personified the word clutch during his two Super Bowl wins. Though he made the postseason five times, all four of his wins came in the two seasons that he won it all: 2007 and 2011.
A two-time Super Bowl MVP, Eli Manning owns one of the greatest moments in football history, David Tyree’s “Helmet Catch”.
Among America’s biggest underdog stories, Eli used that moment to defeat potentially the best NFL team of all time, Brady’s 2007 New England Patriots. They would’ve finished the season as the first undefeated team in league history under the 16-game regular season format.
To his credit, Eli was one of the best QBs in SEC history during his time at Ole Miss. He led the Rebels to a 10-win season in 2003 including a win in the Cotton Bowl en route to being picked first overall the following year.
Packers QB Bart Starr (Alabama)
Bart Starr, the MVP of Super Bowls I and II, started the trend.
Starr’s time at Alabama was so long ago (1952-55) that he preceded Bear Bryant, but he was able to play for another legendary coach – Vince Lombardi. Those Packers teams won five NFL championships and didn’t slow down at the merger – sweeping the first two Super Bowls against two AFC powerhouses in the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders.
Though Starr’s numbers aren’t as prolific as current QBs, his two Super Bowl performances would certainly hold water in the modern age. Starr threw for 450 yards and 3 TDs during his perfect 2-0 Super Bowl run.
Jets QB Joe Namath (Alabama)
The University of Alabama has yet to have Heisman-winning QB, and yet the first three Super Bowls were won by Crimson Tide quarterbacks.
Namath is seen as a bit of a folk hero in Crimson Tide lore, as his smooth-talking Pennsylvanian led Alabama to a national title, and then the New York Jets to an upset win in Super Bowl III. The Jets were an 18-point underdog to the Don Shula-led Baltimore Colts but relied on a strong defense and the arm of Namath to deliver one of the biggest shockers in the history of the game.
“Broadway Joe” was a natural-born star that could fit in with any crowd, and he made his mark from New York to Tuscaloosa. He was one of the first superstars in football, and swagger led to the popularization of the pro game. Namath famously guaranteed a win over the heavily favored Colts, who had amassed a 15-1 record in the NFL, widely considered to be a superior of the two leagues.
Namath’s bravado was timeless, as is evident by this short documentary on his promise to win the game. It would be incredble for a modern quarterback to be so bold.
Colts QB Peyton Manning (Tennessee)
Peyton Manning is arguably the best regular season quarterback of all time, and he cemented his legacy with a win over Rex Grossman and the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. His biggest moment came earlier in that same postseason when he overcame a 21-3 deficit to beat the Patriots in the AFC title game.
Back to the Super Bowl, Manning, kicker Adam Vinatieri, and the Colts defense put together a dominant performance, overcoming a Devin Hester kick return to secure the first Super Bowl for the Colts since they moved to Indianapolis.
Manning added a second title with the Broncos in Super Bowl 50, but he was a role player on a team led by a defense. This one was special because of his MVP performance.
Steelers WR Hines Ward (Georgia)
Ben Roethlisberger often gets credit as a two-time Super Bowl champion, but one of them should come with a thank you note to Hines Ward. Roethlisberger completed only nine passes on the day and threw two interceptions, but the Steelers beat Seattle 21-10 thanks to their defense and the former Bulldogs receiver.
Hines found a way to catch a touchdown pass even though Ben didn’t throw it, hauling in a 43-yard score from Antwaan Randle El. Ward finished with five receptions for 153 yards and that TD, which was good enough for MVP of the biggest game in football.
The perfect Steeler, Ward was known for his grittiness and execution, making four Pro Bowls and winning two Super Bowls in his career. Ward was so physical, there was a “Hines Ward” rule implemented in the NFL to reduce helmet to helmet hits on blindside blocks.
Ward was able to achieve success in college and the NFL, finishing second to Herschel Walker on the Bulldogs’ all-purpose yardagse list, though he has since been surpassed by Todd Gurley.
Broncos RB Terrell Davis (Georgia)
Davis was a relative unknown at Georgia, but his Hall of Fame career in the NFL, as well as MVP performance in Super Bowl XXXII, show that he was meant for the pro game. In fact, Davis rushed for more yards (2,008) in his MVP 1998 season than in the entirety of his college career (1,919).
“TD” won two Offensive Player of the Year awards, an MVP, and back-to-back Super Bowl titles with the Broncos – and Super Bowl XXXII was his masterpiece. Davis rushed 30 times for 157 yards and three TDs in the Broncos’ victory over the Brett Favre-led Packers for the first Super Bowl of his career.
Davis was a one-man wrecking crew, and he carried that momentum into his 2,000-yard season and regular season MVP the next year.
Dolphins S Jake Scott (Georgia)
The undefeated Miami Dolphins were known for their “No Name Defense,” so it’s only fitting that a member of it would gain recognition on the game’s biggest stage. Jake Scott, a seventh-round pick from Georgia, perfectly personified that team. A five-time Pro Bowler and College Football Hall of Famer whom younger fans have probably never heard of, he let his play on the field do the talking.
Football was very different then, and the defensive game of Super Bowl VII showed it. The Dolphins’ offense was centered around fullback Larry Csonka, who ran for a then-Super Bowl record 152 yards. The defense was anchored by Scott, who picked off two passes, one of which came in the end zone with about five minutes left in the fourth quarter as Miami was protecting a 14-0 lead.
That defense deserved a shutout, but thanks to one of the funniest plays in football history, the Redskins would recover a … kind of half fumble/half interception on a botched punt by Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian and return it for a score with about two minutes returning. Nevertheless, Scott would be one of the 10 defensive players named Super Bowl MVP.
Cowboys RB Emmitt Smith (Florida)
Smith has pretty much every accomplishment that a running back could hope to achieve, but the among the proudest has to be his MVP trophy from Super Bowl XXVIII. Smith rushed 30 times for 132 yards and two TDs during the Cowboys’ 30-13 victory over the Bills.
The game was a classic case of one team scoring field goals and the other scoring TDs, as the Cowboys scored 24 consecutive points to put away a previously explosive Buffalo squad for the second consecutive year. Smith powered that run, scoring both of his touchdowns in the second-half to break a 13-13 tie.
A Hall of Famer, and the career leader in rushing attempts, yards, and TDs, and three-time Super Bowl champion, Smith was able to walk away from XXVIII as an MVP.