Rating the Best SEC Championship Games

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Rating the Best SEC Championship Games
© USA Today

The first SEC Championship game in 1992 between Alabama and Florida changed the entire college football landscape. 

Roy Kramer, the SEC Commissioner from 1990-2002, discovered an NCAA bylaw that allowed conferences with 12 teams to split into two divisions and have a championship game.  

“The bylaw was originally put in for Division III conferences, but it applied to everybody,” Kramer told ESPN. “Once we hit 12 teams, we knew we could take advantage of it, and I knew it wouldn’t be popular with everyone in the sport, even in our conference. But our teams having a chance to potentially play for two championships at the end of the season, the conference championship and the national championship, was something that gave a flair to our conference that was unique at the time,”

In that game, Alabama cornerback Antonio Langham had a game-saving 27-yard interception return for a touchdown which led the Crimson Tide to a 28-21 win, showing college football that a game of this type could provide another level of excitement and entertainment to the sport. 

Today, every conference has a championship game. DraftKings Sportsbook has odds for 10 different conference championship winners.  

Alabama went on to beat Miami 34-13 in the Sugar Bowl to win the National Championship, their first without Bear Bryant as its coach. 

With more than 30 years of the SEC Championship game history, let’s look back at some of the more exciting games, including key moments, players, and ratings.  

Alabama vs. Georgia (2022)

Last year’s SEC Championship game was electric for multiple reasons. 

The Crimson Tide upset the then No. 1 ranked Bulldogs, who had perhaps one of the best College Football defenses of all time.  

Quarterback Bryce Young was tremendous, throwing for 412 yards on 25 completions for three touchdowns and no interceptions. His No. 1 receiver Jameson Williams caught six of those completions for 175 yards and two scores.  

The Crimson Tide won that game 41-24. However, just a few weeks later, Georgia would get its revenge with a win in the National Championship game. 

This was the perfect showcase of the top two schools in the nation, both from the SEC. 

Alabama vs. Florida (2021)

With only 16,500 or so in attendance because of COVID-19, those lucky enough to be there witnessed an SEC Championship game where just about 100 total points were scored.

The Gators put up an excellent fight but fell just short, falling 52-46. 

Eventual first-round running back draft pick Najee Harris ran for 178 yards on 31 carries and two touchdowns and caught five passes for 67 yards and three touchdowns.  

Harris’ five touchdowns were an SEC Championship record, breaking Tre Mason’s 2013 record of four.  

Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones completed 33 of 43 passes for 418 yards and five touchdowns. Wide receiver DeVonta Smith scored twice while racking up 15 watches for 184 yards. 

Gators quarterback Kyle Trask completed 26 of 40 passes for 408 yards and three touchdowns. One of his touchdowns came on a 51-yard play to Kadarius Toney, who ended the game with over 150 receiving yards. 

This game was all offense, and it exceeded expectations. 

LSU vs. Georgia (2020)

This game wasn’t close at all, with the LSU Tigers winning 37-10, but it was just another incredible display from eventual No. 1 overall draft pick quarterback Joe Burrow.  

Burrow’s 2019-20 season is one for the ages. That year, he had 60 touchdown passes and nearly 5,700 yards. 

In the SEC Championship, 349 of those yards and four of those touchdowns came here, followed by seven more in the first playoff game just after.  

The Bulldogs had no chance, but we watched a star in action in his third to last College Football game ever.  

Alabama vs. Florida (2008)

While his NFL career success is up for debate, there simply was never and still hasn’t ever been a player like Gators quarterback Tim Tebow. 

Tebow is perhaps the most famous college football player of all time. His performance in the 2008 SEC Championship game only added to the legacy. 

In this game, Tebow was up against the undefeated Crimson Tide, with players like Rolando McClain and Kareem Jackson leading the defense.  

Heading into the fourth quarterback, the prodigal son and the Gators were down 20-17, but Tebow led them on two drives of more than 60 yards to capture a 31-20 victory. 

Auburn vs. South Carolina (2010)

You may wonder how a game in which the winner won by 40 points makes this list. 

Two words: Cam. Newton. 

We discussed the 2020 game with Burrow, and Newton was absolutely unstoppable in this one.  

Playing just one full year of FBS College Football, Newton had over 50 touchdowns that season, with 21 coming on the ground. 

Against South Carolina, Newton racked up 335 passing yards, four touchdowns, and added 14 rushes for 73 yards and two more scores. 

This game was important not only for the SEC Championship and college football, but Newton would also change the NFL game.  

Tennessee vs. Auburn (1997)

The Volunteers' 30-29 win over the Tigers with Peyton Manning at quarterback was a game for the ages. 

There was a point in the game where Manning, an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback today, was down 27-17.  

Then the Manning precision kicked in.  

He hit Peerless Price for a touchdown, but because of a blocked PAT that was returned for a two-point conversion, the Volunteers were down 29-23. 

Then, in the final minutes, Marcus Nash took an easy short strike from Manning to the house on a 73-yard play.  

That would lead the Manning-led Volunteers into the Orange Bowl against Nebraska. That year, this was designated as the National Championship but featured the No. 2 and No. 3 ranked teams as the Big Ten Champions. The No. 1 ranked Michigan Wolverines were obligated to take on the Pac-10 Champion in the Rose Bowl.  

Manning performed poorly against the Cornhuskers, but still had 373 passing yards in the Vols' 42-17 loss.  

SEC Championship Games: TV Ratings/Viewership

  • 2021: 15.2 million
  • 2020: Not listed
  • 2019: 13.7 million
  • 2018: 17.5 million
  • 2017: 13.5 million
  • 2016: 11.1 million
  • 2015: 12.8 million
  • 2014: 12.8 million
  • 2013: 14.4 million
  • 2012: 16.2 million
  • 2011: 12 million
  • 2010: 10.1 million
  • 2009: 18 million
  • 2008: 10.4
  • 2007: 6.0
  • 2006: 4.7
  • 2005: 3.9
  • 2004: 4.8
  • 2003: 4.1
  • 2002: 3.2
  • 2001: 7.0
  • 2000: Not listed
  • 1999: Not listed
  • 1998: Not listed
  • 1997: Not listed
  • 1996: 7.0
  • 1995: 7.2
  • 1994: 10.5
  • 1993: Not listed
  • 1992: 9.8

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Richard Janvrin

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