The last time it happened ...: A notable stat or fact about every SEC team
I’m always amazed at the little nuggets I come across while editing stories for Saturday Down South.
Some I might have forgotten. Others I never knew. Some I might have known, but not necessarily in that context.
Consider this an amalgamation of said research.
Here is a notable stat or achievement from every SEC team that might be reached in 2020 after not being reached in a while.
You already know this has to be about field-goal kickers. The Tide haven’t kicked a game-winning field goal since Jamie Christensen beat Texas Tech with a 45-yarder at the buzzer to win the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2, 2006.
I mentioned this, that Alabama hasn’t kicked a game-winner in 14 seasons, to our overly talented takeout writer, Al Blanton, and the lifelong Alabama fan replied: “Wow. That’s totally insane if it’s true. Surely we have made a game-winner since then.”
It’s OK, Al. Nick Saban hasn’t exactly needed a lot of help.
And look at it this way: Had Andy Pappanastos made the walk-off 36-yarder in regulation to win the 2017 national championship, we never would have experienced 2nd-and-26.
You already know the last time Arkansas won an SEC game was in 2017. Yes, I think that streak ends in 2020.
The last time Arkansas threw more than 30 TD passes in a season was 2015. The Hogs finished with 31. I really liked Feleipe Franks’ chances to do that in a 12-game regular-season that included a normal nonconference slate. Nothing is normal about 2020, except this streak … which will continue at least another year.
The last time the Tigers went 3 consecutive years without a 1,000-yard rusher was 2006-08.
The Tigers’ current streak is 2 years. A likely 11-game season (including a bowl) is 2 fewer games than normal, but that’s still ample opportunity for somebody.
The problem is, who? Cadillac Williams formed 1/2 of the greatest RB duo in SEC history. He’s now coaching the Tigers’ running backs. You know he’s not opposed to dynamic duos. Williams has 4 quality options to share the workload. The Tigers will top 200 yards rushing per game for the first time since 2017, but the 1,000-yard rusher streak likely will hit Year 3.
The last time the Gators won the SEC East was 2016. The last time they won the division with only 1 league loss was 2015.
Can the Gators really go 9-1 against an all-SEC schedule in 2020?
ESPN’s FPI gives the Gators at least a 53% chance of winning every game except the Cocktail Party.
If that holds true, they’d finish 9-1 but need Georgia to lose twice to reach Atlanta.
The last (and only) time an SEC East program won 4 (or more) consecutive division titles was from 1992-97, when Florida won the first 5.
Georgia has won 3 consecutive East titles. Can they make it 4 in a row in 2020?
FPI gives the Bulldogs at least a 60% chance to win every game except their trip to Alabama.
A 9-1 record with a tiebreaker over Florida would get it done.
The last time Kentucky won 8 or more games in 3 consecutive seasons was 1949-51 … under Bear Bryant.
Mark Stoops can join Bryant this season.
It won’t be easy. Five of the Cats’ 10 regular-season games are against teams that opened in the Top 25 of the AP Poll, including 4 in the top 11.
The last time LSU won 33 games in a 3-year stretch was 2011-2013.
The Tigers need 8 wins this season to match that.
The program record is 34 wins in a 3-year stretch. Les Miles’ Tigers accomplished that twice: 2010-2012 and 2005-2007.
The last time the Bulldogs led the SEC in passing yards was 1978. Dave Marler threw for 2,422 of the Bulldogs’ 2,637 yards.
Mike Leach was still in high school, no doubt scribbling never-seen-before formations on the back of his notebook.
Leach’s offenses generally reside at the top of college football’s passing charts. Whether that happens in 2020 or soon after, it’s all but a statistical lock that he’ll lead the SEC, too.
The last time a Tigers coach reached a bowl game in his first year was 1978, when Warren Powers’ boys not only got to the Liberty Bowl but beat LSU in it.
(Sidenote: Can we relax a bit on how difficult this Tigers’ team schedule is? That 1978 team played opponents ranked No. 1, No. 1, No. 2, No. 5 and No. 20. And went 3-2!)
Can Eli Drinkwitz work some Mizzou Magic in 2020?
The last time the Rebels led the SEC in rushing was … 1962. That was John Vaught’s 10-0 Sugar Bowl champion team.
If Lane Kiffin goes all-in on John Rhys Plumlee, the Rebels have 3 guys capable of producing a 1,000-yard season before they leave Oxford.
Plumlee did it last year, finishing with 1,023 yards (including sacks) in just 9 games.
Jerrion Ealy averaged 6.94 yards per carry en route to 722 yards on just 104 touches. Snoop Conner averaged 6.32 yards per carry.
The last time the Gamecocks led the SEC in sacks was 2012, Jadeveon Clowney’s sensational sophomore season. South Carolina finished with 43, an average of 3.31 per game.
South Carolina hasn’t averaged more than 2 sacks per game in a season since.
Leading the league might be an optimistic ask, but surpassing 2.0 sacks per game should be manageable. These Gamecocks feature a pair of 5-star, in-state defensive linemen in Zacch Pickens and Jordan Burch.
The last time the Vols won 10 games in a season was 2007.
Given the Vols’ history, this is almost unthinkable, but every SEC team except Vanderbilt has won 10 games in a season more recently.
It’s difficult to envision the Vols snapping that streak with a 10-game regular season in 2020.
The last time the Aggies finished a season ranked in the top 10 was 2012, when Johnny Manziel won the Heisman and led the Aggies to a No. 5 final ranking. That team didn’t even appear in the preseason poll.
Since then, the Aggies have made a habit of starting strong and fizzling.
They open this season at No. 13 with multiple opportunities to get and stay in the top 10.
The last time a Vanderbilt coach went 7 consecutive seasons without posting a winning record was, well, never.
That’s what Derek Mason is trying to avoid in 2020.
Give Mason credit for making 2 bowl games during his tenure, though.
It’s never been more difficult to be an SEC football coach.