College football has long been lauded for its pulse-pounding regular season. Sometimes, however, given the current and historic means of crowning a national champion, there are teams that wind up forgotten in time. The SEC has been the gold-standard for college football supremacy for countless years. Sure, some of these teams failed to win a title but they deserve to be honored all the same.
Top 10 SEC teams that failed to win a national championship
10. Missouri Tigers 2007
Starting off with a little controversy. Are there more deserving teams to make this list like , perhaps, 1996 Tennessee or even 2013 Mizzou? The argument can be made of course, and Missouri wasn’t even in the SEC at the time. Lest we forget though that they briefly rose to prominence behind Heisman hopeful quarterback Chase Daniel and a bevy of offensive weapons.
Mizzou knocked off the eventual Rose Bowl participant Illinois and Orange Bowl winners Kansas and suffered just two defeats (both to Oklahoma). The Tigers were #1 in the final poll of the regular season before falling to Oklahoma which kept them from playing Ohio State for the national championship. A&H Magazine wound up awarding Mizzou the “national championship” that year after 2-loss LSU beat Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.
9. Auburn Tigers 1993
First year head coach Terry Bowden arrived on the plains of Auburn with the program on probation and ineligible for postseason play. All the Tigers would do is go 11-0 and beat EIGHT top 25 teams including Florida and Alabama (the two teams that played for the SEC championship).
The National Champions Foundation would go on to recognize Auburn as one of its 1993 national champions and fans will not soon forget players like Tony Richardson, Frank Sanders, Chris Shelling and Willie Whitehead.
8. Alabama Crimson Tide 2014
Pretty much any Alabama team under Nick Saban that fails to win a championship is likely going to make this list. The 2014 squad withstood an early-season loss to Ole Miss to become the #1 seed heading into the first ever College Football Playoff.
Led by playmakers like Amari Cooper and T.J. Yeldon, the Tide appeared poised for a third title in four years until running into Ezekiel Elliott and the Ohio State Buckeyes in the semi-finals. Ohio State would win an entertaining shootout 42-35 in route to Urban Meyer’s’ only title in Columbus.
7. Florida Gators 1995
While it would be the 1996 Gators that would notch Steve Steve Spurrier’s first and only national title in Gainesville, the 1995 team averaged 43 points a game in route to an undefeated regular season.
Florida were led by future Heisman winner Danny Wuerffel, and receivers like Reidel Anthony and Jacquez Green. The Gators were riding high until running into Tommy Frazier and a buzzsaw of a Nebraska team that stifled Spurrier’s fun-‘n-gun offense in the Fiesta Bowl.
6. LSU Tigers 2011
Known for being an overwhelming defensive team, the ’11 Tigers ran roughshod through its SEC competition (including a 9-6 slugfest with Alabama). As luck would have it, The Crimson Tide would find itself right back in the national championship picture after Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State and the rematch was set for New Orleans.
This time, things would be different as Alabama completely dominated in all facets of the game, keeping LSU’s offense from crossing the 50 yard line for much fo the contest. Alabama claimed Nick Saban’s second championship that night, dashing LSU’s hopes in the process.
5. Auburn Tigers 2013
It was a season defined by miracles. Auburn needed late-game heroics to beat both Georgia and Alabama at home to get to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta in 2013. After dispatching of Missouri, Auburn found itself facing off against Florida State in the final BCS Championship Game.
After going toe-to-toe with the mighty Seminoles, Jameis Winston would throw a touchdown to Kelvin Benjamin with only 13 seconds remaining, ending Auburn’s bid for a dream ending to an unforgettable season.
4. Georgia Bulldogs 2017
Georgia football has been on the precipice of immorality many times throughout its storied history. The ultimate death knell for Bulldog fans came back in 2017 when the team appeared ready to get over the hump and win its first national championship since 1980.
After avenging an earlier loss to Auburn in the SEC Championship Game, Georgia won a classic against Oklahoma in the semi-finals in Pasadena which set up a grand encounter with Alabama 75 miles from its own campus. The game would end in overtime when Alabama freshman Tua Tagovailoa hit Devona Smith for a touchdown on second and long, breaking the hearts of Bulldog nation yet again.
3. Auburn Tigers 2004
It’s hard to imagine a situation in which an undefeated SEC champion would be left completely out of a national championship picture in college football. That’s exactly what took place in 2004 as Auburn’s record of perfection was overshadowed by the dominant USC Trojans (the winners of the Orange Bowl).
The unbeaten Tigers were downgraded to playing in the Sugar Bowl against #8 Virginia Tech and college football fans are left to debate Auburn’s true greatness in 2004.
2. Alabama Crimson Tide 2016/2018
Call it a cop-out if you want, but these teams were eerily similar in many ways. Both teams were undefeated, both advanced to the College Football Playoff and both won their semi-final games with relative ease. Then there’s the obvious: both lost to Clemson in the National Championship Game.
In 2016, it was a last-second heartbreaker to Deshaun Watson, however, in 2018, it would be complete dominance by Trevor Lawrence and the Tigers. These were REALLY good Crimson Tide squads and it’s unfathomable to think about Nick Saban’s resume had they won each of these games in addition to the FIVE he already has.
1. Florida Gators 2009
The end of the Tim Tebow era was supposed to end with a third national championship for the Florida Gators. The proclamation seemed destined to occur as the team, which was loaded with future NFL talent, soared through the regular season unbeaten and largely untested.
The SEC Championship Game would see a changing of the guard as Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide stunned the Gators 32-13, sending them to the Sugar Bowl to play unassuming Cincinnati. The legend of Tim Tebow will certainly live on in college football lore, but the ending was as glamorous as many hoped.
- Missouri Tigers 2013
- Tennessee Volunteers 1996
- Alabama Crimson Tide 2008
- Alabama Crimson Tide 1994
- Georgia Bulldogs 2012