Ranking of the top 10 national championship teams

Sometimes I think of Greg Sankey in his Birmingham office and all I can think of is Scrooge McDuck.

Not that Sankey is cheap or narcissistic. But I still imagine him sitting in a vault on piles and piles of money, throwing bills into the air with the enthusiasm of a lottery winner.

Whatever they want to do with the SEC, it’s bulletproof. Non-SEC fans had a field day on Twitter as the league kicked off with 0-4 bowling season — didn’t bother to notice that 13 teams had qualified — and were humbled at the end when two SEC teams played it again.

As a result, the SEC won its 15th national championship in the past 26 seasons. On that same stretch, the next best conference has four.

And there is no reason to think that this dynasty is going to change. Populations continue to move south and the additions of Texas and Oklahoma will make it feel like the SEC has all the resources to keep it going.

Oh, there are schools that can compete enough to win one every now and then. But it’s an SEC football world, and when you hear that CBS intro to college football, you know something epic is about to happen.

There have been some great teams on this run. We give you the SEC’s 10 best championship teams from the past 26 years.


Florida 2006

Jon Way-US TODAY Sports

The Gators had two quarterbacks—one who went on to become the school’s all-time passer and the other the absolute leader in hasty touchdowns. Plus, a freshman wide receiver who was arguably the greatest athlete to ever play in Florida.

Oh, and the defense made Ohio State miserable in the title game.


Alabama 2009

Marvin Gentry-US TODAY Sports

The Tide got a hiatus when Texas Colt McCoy was injured in the first series of the title game. But to get there, Alabama had to beat No. 1 Florida in a game they had been looking forward to for a whole year.

They were good enough at that game to help Mark Ingram become the school’s first (of many) Heisman winner.


Alabama 2015

Mickey Welsh-Montgomery

Although the Tide lost an early game to Ole Miss, they shifted into high gear against a brutal schedule.

In winning the national title, Alabama defeated eight ranked teams. That included Florida in the SEC title game, a shutout win over Michigan State in the semifinals, and a 45-40 win over Clemson in one of the best games ever played.


LSU 2003

Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Okay, this team lost to Ron Zook and Florida. Home.

And Nick Saban’s first national title was shared because the AP had USC No. 1.

So? This LSU team was rough on the defense, giving Oklahoma a 21-14 loss in the title game after battering Georgia to win the SEC championship.


Florida 2008

Steve Mitchell-US TODAY Sports

This team was packed with future NFL players, and a one-point loss to Ole Miss was the inspiration it needed (Tim Tebow provided the verbal boost with “The Promise”).

The Gators defeated Alabama in the SEC title game (a No. 1 vs. No. 2 match-up) and Oklahoma in the National Championship game (another No. 1 vs. No. 2 match-up).

While Tebow received high praise, it was a charged defense that played at a different level as the game got bigger.


Georgia 2021

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Built on a ridiculously stingy defense, the Bulldogs won their first national championship in 41 years.

The dominant season was marred by a blowout loss to Alabama in the SEC title game, but the Bulldogs flew past Michigan in the playoffs and then dealt with the tide in a rematch.


Alabama 2011

John David Mercer-US TODAY Sports

This was arguably Alabama’s best defense of their run. They lost 9-6 to LSU in the regular season, but took revenge with a 21-0 victory over the most boring national champion ever.

Alabama made it boring because of that defense.


Florida 1996

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The fact that this was the first Florida team to win a national championship plays a part here, but so does the way they did it.

Sure, the Gators needed some help after a three-point loss in Tallahassee, but they got it and took advantage.

Heisman winner Danny Wuerffel lit up Alabama in the SEC title game, then put 52 on FSU in the rematch. Don’t forget, these Gators also made it 4-0 against Peyton Manning with a win over the No. 2 Vols in Knoxville.

Florida was on the attack with three effective traffic jams and three ridiculously wide receivers. But the defense was also salty.


LSU 2019

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

With Joe Burrow leading the way, the attack was unstoppable. Even if you scored, they would score twice.

In their last five games in the regular season, the SEC title game and the first round of the playoffs, they won by an average of 26 points before beating Clemson in the final, 42-25.

The offense set records that may not be broken for a while, and the defense had a pair of All-Americans in Grant Delpit and Derek Stingley Jr.

LSU defeated five teams in the top 10 in the latest AP poll.


Alabama 2020

Butch Dill-US TODAY Sports

The biggest reason for putting this team on top was that it remained undefeated due to COVID by playing an All-SEC schedule. Then it had to beat a dynamic team from Florida in the SEC title game.

By the time it made it to the playoffs, it was a cinch, including a 52-24 loss to Ohio State in the confetti game.

DeVonta Smith was good enough to win over the Heisman as a wide receiver and it didn’t hurt that Alabama had so many quality wideouts that there was no response on offense. The Tide also had the best line of attack in the country.

This was not a vintage Alabama defense, but no one played defense during the 2020 season.

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