Ranking the top SEC Championship teams since 1992
We’ve seen many noteworthy performances in the SEC Championship Game since Alabama beat Florida in the first at Legion Field in 1992, but which teams stick out on a national scale as better than the rest?
Last fall, the SEC saw its record-setting streak of seven consecutive BCS national title wins snapped at seven and many of those squads were considered among college football’s best ever.
Interestingly, one of the league’s most impressive national champions over the last 25 years did not even win its own division during the regular season. The 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide defeated LSU, 21-0, in the BCS title game but finished second to the then-unbeaten Tigers in the West and missed out on a trip to Atlanta.
Yet another prime example of just how strong this conference has been over the last decade.
RANKING THE TOP SEC CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS SINCE 1992
5. 1998 Tennessee (13-0): Led by Peyton Manning’s first-year replacement Tee Martin, the Vols finished unbeaten and won their first national championship since 1951 with a thrilling 23-16 win over Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl during the inaugural season of the BCS. A few weeks earlier, star receiver Peerless Price was named MVP of the SEC title game against Mississippi State, then countered with a four-catch, 199-yard outing against the Seminoles.
4. 1996 Florida (12-1): A team on a mission under the visor-wearing Steve Spurrier, the Gators redeemed themselves for a horrific national championship game loss to Nebraska the previous season with Heisman-winning quarterback Danny Wuerrfel and most of the playmakers on the original Fun-N-Gun squad. Florida’s lone loss during the regular season came at the hands of Florida State, but after the Gators beat Alabama in the SEC Championship Game and Texas upset Nebraska in the Big XII final, the rematch was set and this time, Spurrier’s squad prevailed for the hardware. Florida won its fourth straight SEC Championship in 1996 and first national title in program history.
3. 2010 Auburn (14-0): Fueled by one of the most prolific offenses in college football history, the Tigers eviscerated the competition during Gene Chizik’s second season to capture its first consensus national championship since 1957. Lightning rod quarterback and future No. 1 pick Cam Newton played through controversy to set several SEC records and became the school’s third Heisman winner. Auburn dominated South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game, 56-17, before taking out Oregon for the national title in the final minutes. The 2010 season’s best win was a 24-point comeback at Alabama, the largest lead ever blown by the Crimson Tide at home and the largest ever comeback during the Iron Bowl’s 75-year history.
2. 2008 Florida (13-1): Urban Meyer’s second national title season in three years at Florida was arguably the Gators’ best team ever, directed by Heisman winner Tim Tebow, a slew of NFL Draft picks and a prolific defense. Florida knocked off unbeaten and top-ranked Alabama in the SEC Championship Game to reach the national title game against Oklahoma, a Big XII champion that set several league records for total offense with Heisman passer Sam Bradford. The Gators beat former Florida defensive coordinator Bob Stoops in that game to become the first team during the BCS era to win two titles with the same coach. The 2008 season was especially memorable thanks to Tebow’s emotional declaration following a regular-season loss to Ole Miss that no team would match Florida’s physicality the rest of the way.
1. 2009 Alabama (14-0): The first of three national championship-winning teams under Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide avenged a previous year’s loss to top-ranked Tebow and the Florida Gators in the SEC title game before heading to the Rose Bowl and beating Texas for the crystal football. It was a season of firsts for Alabama who flexed the school’s first Heisman winner in running back Mark Ingram, became the first team in FBS history to defeat six ranked teams in a single season and set the all-time program record for total wins in a season.