Disclaimer: This list and subsequent blog posts were formed to create conversation between SEC fans about teams that were very close to having championship seasons. Looking at the teams listed and thinking about the teams that were left off further proves the depth of the SEC and the focus needed to win week in and week out. Teams were chosen and ranked based on significant wins/losses, star power and old school opinion (because we're opinionated SEC fans).
BNE Top 10 List so far...
#10 - 2001 Florida
#9 - 1997 Florida
BNE's best teams to not win the SEC title (post-1992): #8
2006 LSU Tigers
AP Preseason #8
Record: 11-2 (6-2)
Final AP Ranking: #3
Final Coaches Ranking: #3
@ #4 Auburn 7-3 (LSU ranked #7)
@ #5 Florida 23-10 (LSU ranked #10)
- eventual SEC and National Champion
Wins vs. Ranked Opponents:
@ #8 Tennessee 28-24
@ #5 Arkansas (Little Rock) 31-26
Sugar Bowl: #11 Notre Dame 41-14 (what a joke of a team)
Star Power: QB JaMarcus Russell, ATH Trindon Holliday, FB Jacob Hester, WR Dwayne Bowe, WR Early Doucet, WR Craig Davis, DT Glenn Dorsey, DE Tyson Jackson, LB Ali Highsmith, S LaRon Landry, S Jessie Daniels, S Craig Steltz
Why Ahead of '97 Florida?
Star power. Les Miles' second year at LSU bore the fruits of Nick Saban's recruiting classes just like '05 LSU did. To his credit, Miles has continued LSU's dominance on the recruiting trail during his four years in Baton Rouge. The '06 version of the Bayou Bengals could compete on a Who's Who list with any other team in BNE's Top 10.
Bubba says: 2006 LSU was a big time team that didn't perform up to their talent level in their two biggest moments, at Florida and at Auburn. Based off of on field results, 2005 LSU could easily hold this spot with their 7-1 conference record, but this team was virtually the same, only a year older and stronger. The Bayou Bengals had the unfortunate privilege to face all of their ranked opponents on the road while all four were ranked in the top 10, and funny things happen on the Plains no matter who you are (some questionable officiating in that one). This team was over loaded with talent and you could easily include DC Bo Pelini and OC Jimbo Fisher as stars of this squad as well.
Holtz plugs Notre Dame (surprise!), while Corso wouldn't want to play LSU even with the Indianapolis Colts.
Earl says: "That was a war!" Those words were proclaimed by Kirk Herbstreit after ESPN's highlights of the 7-3 defensive struggle between LSU and Auburn. That was/is the SEC. The '06 Bayou Bengals faced four teams ranked in the top 8 all on the road. They split those contests 2-2. The other game that LSU dropped featured the very first Tim Tebow jump pass and the national media fawned.
LSU was trending up at the end of the season with road wins over ranked opponents Tennessee and Arkansas. Ultimately, the tough schedule tripped up this LSU team though, and while JaMarcus Russell had a tremendous arm, his leadership skills as a quarterback were tremendously lacking.
Basically, the '06 Tigers are ranked this high because of their talent level. Even with the tough schedule, I just don't believe they should've lost two games. However, LSU perfected losing twice the very next year and proved a two-loss team could still win the national championship. Of course, Les would remind us that LSU was undefeated in regulation in 2007.
Next installment: #7 - 2007 Georgia Bulldogs