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's Top 10 List so far...
#10 - 2001 Florida
#9 - 1997 Florida
#8 - 2006 LSU
#7 - 2007 Georgia
#6 - 2001 Tennessee
#5 - 1998 Florida
#4 - 2008 Alabama
BNE's best teams to not win the SEC title (post-1992): #3
1994 Alabama Crimson Tide
AP Preseason #12
Final AP Ranking: #5
Final Coaches Ranking: #4
Record: 12-1 (8-0)
SEC Championship Game: #6 Florida 24-23 (Bama ranked #3)
- first SECCG to be played at Georgia Dome
Wins vs. Ranked Opponents:
@ #20 Miss. State 29-25
#6 Auburn 21-14 (Birmingham)
Citrus Bowl: #13 Ohio State 24-17
Star Power: QB Jay Barker, RB Sherman Williams, RB Tarrant Lynch, WR Toderick Malone, DT Shannon Brown, S Sam Shade, S Eric Turner, K Michael Proctor
Jay Barker, Jay Barker, Jay Barker, Jay Barker....We probably left off some names, but the important thing to remember is that Jay Barker was a winner. Proved he could do it without that '92 defense.
Why Ahead of '08 Alabama?
Lost one game by one point to the SEC Champion and preseason #1 Florida. Had the same undefeated regular season of 2008 Alabama without laying an egg in its bowl game. Like several teams on our list, would have had the hardware before 1992 division split.
Bubba says: 1994 Alabama didn't have a lot of flash, they just won a lot of football games. QB Jay Barker was one of the greatest compeditors that the SEC has seen over the last 25 years and I remember him making it rain in the comeback victory over the Dawgs, where Eric Zier became the all time leading passer (at that time) in SEC History. You always knew the Tide defense would be solid under Gene Stallings and while this team ultimately had no chance to win the national championship, one loss SEC teams are usually conference champions.
Gene Stallings' reaction to the dog running onto the field says it all about Stallings' personality. A throwback coach in a conference that's had many of them.
Earl says: This Alabama was like so many Alabama teams under Gene Stallings, they just won. With OC Homer Smith at the controls of the offense led by a senior Jay Barker, this '94 squad might've been a little better on that side of the ball than other Alabama teams of the early '90s. Jay Barker led comebacks against Georgia and Miss. State to preserve the Tide's undefeated SEC regular season before it was beaten on a late touchdown pass by Florida in the SEC Championship Game. Its most surprising victory came against Auburn in the Iron Bowl. It wasn't surprising that the Tide won. It was surprising that the Tide was leading 21-0 in the first half against an Auburn program that hadn't lost in 21 games.
Unfortunately, even if Alabama would've defeated Florida in the Dome, it still would've had a difficult time winning the national championship with an undefeated Nebraska and an undefeated Penn State ahead of Alabama in the polls. After the disappointing loss to Florida, Stallings got his crew to bounce back and take care of Ohio State in the Citrus Bowl on New Year's Day.
What's that? An SEC team defeats Ohio State? That's never happened before...
Next installment: #2 - 1995 Tennessee Volunteers