The SEC won’t have a team competing in college football’s national championship game for the first time since the 2005 season, snapping a streak of eight consecutive years with a representative in the game.
In honor of Throwback Thursday, we took a look back to the 2005 campaign
THE 2005 SEASON
National Championship Game: Texas Longhorns 41, USC Trojans 38
Although the 2005 national title game lacked an SEC participant, it still marked one of the greatest title games in college football history featuring two of the great college quarterbacks of the 2000s.
Texas’ Vince Young and USC’s Matt Leinart squared off in a marquee showdown in the Rose Bowl, matching one another score for score for most of the evening. Leinart and the Trojans eventually took hold of the game in the fourth quarter when his 22-yard touchdown strike to Dwayne Jarrett gave USC a commanding 38-26 lead with less than seven minutes remaining.
USC looked well on its way to claiming at least a share of its third-straight national title, however, Young was not about to roll over and submit upon falling behind by two touchdowns. He ran in a 17-yard touchdown on the ensuing drive, his second touchdown run of the night, to cut the lead to five points with four minutes left on the clock, then got the ball again with 2:13 remaining after his defense stopped USC’s Lendale White on fourth and 2 to cause a turnover on downs.
Once again, Young calmly led the Longhorns down the field, and with just 19 seconds remaining he ran in his third touchdown of the game from nine yards out on fourth and goal to give Texas the lead for good.
Young’s comeback charge, especially his final run to put Texas in front, remains one of the iconic moments in the history of college football. The win
Relive the play one last time:
SEC West champion: LSU — 11-2 overall, 7-1 SEC. Head coach: Les Miles. Starting quarterback: JaMarcus Russell.
SEC East champion: Georgia — 10-3 overall, 6-2 SEC. Head coach: Mark Richt. Starting quarterback: D.J. Shockley.
SEC Championship Game: Georgia Bulldogs 34, LSU Tigers 14.
Mark Richt won his second conference championship in a five-year span when Georgia took down then-first-year head coach Les Miles and the LSU Tigers in a rout in Atlanta. The Bulldogs jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and never looked back, sealing the win with a Tim Jennings pick-six in the fourth quarter to put the game out of LSU’s reach once and for all.
Jennings picked off LSU backup Matt Flynn, who entered the game in the third quarter as an injury replacement for starter and future No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick JaMarcus Russell. Georgia’s starting quarterback, redshirt senior D.J. Shockley, took home MVP honors to close the book on his lone season as Georgia’s starter. Shockley completed 50 percent of his throws for 112 yards and two scores, and added a third score with his legs to keep the LSU defense guessing all night.
Both teams entered the bowl season with two losses, resulting in the SEC’s absence from the national title game.
SEC Offensive Player of the Year: Jay Cutler, Vanderbilt, QB
SEC Defensive Player of the Year: DeMeco Ryans, Alabama, LB
SEC Special Teams Player of the Year: Skyler Green, LSU, KR/PR
SEC Coach of the Year: Mark Richt, Georgia (coaches’ selection); Steve Spurrier, South Carolina (AP selection)
SEC Freshman of the Year: Darren McFadden, Arkansas, RB
Jacobs Blocking Trophy recipient: Marcus McNeill, Auburn
After the rocky season Cutler just had with the NFL’s Chicago Bears, it’s hard to remember a time when he was considered one of the best young quarterbacks in the country. But in 2005 Cutler threw for more than 3,000 yards and 21 touchdowns against nine interceptions as a senior for the Commodores, becoming Vandy’s first SEC Player of the Year since 1967 in the process.
He would go on to be a first round selection in the ensuring NFL Draft.
Ryans continues to star in the NFL a decade after earning SEC Defensive Player of the Year recognition. He logged 76 tackles, 11.5 for loss, 5.0 sacks, a forced fumble and an interception as a senior in 2005, starring for a 10-win Alabama team that later vacated all 10 wins.
McFadden ran for more than 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns as a freshman in 2005, and those numbers would amazingly constitute his least productive season at the college level. He went on to be a first round NFL Draft selection but his career has been hindered by injuries and the ineptitude of the Oakland Raiders.
McNeill, recognized as the conference’s best offensive lineman that season, would go on to be a second round selection in the NFL Draft. He starred in the NFL for six seasons with the San Diego Chargers, earning two Pro Bowl invites in that time.
Richt earned Coach of the Year honors from his fellow coaches for the second time in his Georgia tenure (2002 was the other), while Spurrier earned the honor from the Associated Press in his first season back in the SEC after two in the NFL. It was the first of two Coach of the Year honors Spurrier would earn at South Carolina (he repeated the feat in 2010 when Carolina won the SEC East), and he also received the honor five times in the 1990s while serving as the head coach of the Florida Gators.