25 years of SEC Championships

SEC Football Championship Game History

Year Score Attendance MVP

1992 Alabama 28, Florida 21 83,091 Antonio Langham, Alabama

1993 Florida 28, Alabama 13 76,345 Terry Dean, Florida

1994 Florida 24, Alabama 23 76,751 Ellis Johnson, Florida

1995 Florida 34, Arkansas 3 71,325 Danny Wuerffel, Florida

1996 Florida 45, Alabama 30 74,132 Danny Wuerffel, Florida

1997 Tennessee 30, Auburn 29 74,896 Peyton Manning, Tennessee

1998 Tennessee 24, Mississippi State 14 74,795 Peerless Price, Tennessee

1999 Alabama 34, Florida 7 71,500 Freddie Milons, Alabama

2000 Florida 28. Auburn 6 73,427 Rex Grossman, Florida

2001 LSU 31, Tennessee 20 74,843 Matt Mauk, LSU

2002 Georgia 30, Arkansas 3 74,835 David Greene, Georgia

2003 LSU 34, Georgia 13 74,913 Justin Vincent, LSU

2004 Auburn 38, Tennessee 28 74,892 Jason Campbell, Auburn

2005 Georgia 34, LSU 14 73,717 D.J. Shockley, Georgia

2006 Florida 38, Arkansas 28 73,374 Percy Harvin, Florida

2007 LSU 21, Tennessee 14 73,832 Ryan Perrilloux, LSU

2008 Florida 31, Alabama 20 75,892 Tim Tebow, Florida

2009 Alabama 32, Florida 13 75,514 Greg McElroy, Alabama

2010 Auburn 56, South Carolina 17 75,802 Cam Newton, Auburn

2011 LSU 42, Georgia 10 75,515 Tyrann Mathieu, LSU

2012 Alabama 32, Georgia 28 75,624 Eddie Lacy, Alabama

2013 Auburn 59, Missouri 42 75,632 Tre Mason, Auburn

2014 Alabama 42, Missouri 13 73,526 Blake Sims, Alabama

2015 Alabama 29, Florida 15 75,320 Derrick Henry, Alabama


Many former MVPs will be on hand and will be recognized as various points during the 2016 SEC Championship Game, including Antonio Langham, Danny Wuerffel, Peyton Manning, David Greene, Percy Harvin, Tim Tebow and many others. Wuerffel, the 1996 Heisman Trophy winner, is the only two-time winner.

One MVP is chosen following each SEC Championship Game as selected by a vote of the media. Of the 23 players who have been named an SEC Championship Game MVP, four have won the Heisman Trophy, 11 have led their team to a national title and 20 have gone on to play in the NFL.

The SEC will also continue its tradition of recognizing a ‘Legend’ from each of the SEC institutions, a class of 14 former stars who excelled on the gridiron and helped write the rich history of the sport at their respective institutions. The 14 Legends were previously announced and will be honored at several events during the course of the Championship weekend.

The SEC Championship game will be played for the 25th time Saturday and the 23rd — and final — time in the Georgia Dome.

The event began in 1992 at Legion Field in Birmingham and moved in 1994 to the Dome, where it has remained. Along the way, it has changed college football while elevating Atlanta’s place in the game.

The first of its kind in major college football, the SEC Championship game was rooted in the conference’s 1992 expansion. It quickly became a signature event and a financial windfall for the league. It spawned other conference championship games around the country and foreshadowed the latest expansion of the game’s postseason, the four-team College Football Playoff.

The success of the SEC title game also helped lead Atlanta’s role in the CFP, including hosting a national semifinal game on Dec. 31 and the national championship game next season.

Before next year’s SEC Championship game, the Georgia Dome is scheduled to be imploded. But the game isn’t going far. The SEC has signed a contract to keep it in Atlanta at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium under construction next door for at least the next 10 years.

For now, on the occasion of the 25th SEC Championship game, a revisitation of each of the past 24.

1992: Alabama 28, Florida 21 (Birmingham)

The SEC etched its mark in the history books, becoming the first in Division I-A league to stage a championship game between two division winners.

After the underdog Gators rallied to tie the game at 21-21, Florida faced first-and-10 at its 21-yard line with less than 3 1/2 minutes remaining. Alabama cornerback Antonio Langham stepped in front of a Shane Matthews pass and ran into Crimson Tide lore, returning the interception 27 yards for the game-winning score.

The play, which came with just 3:16 remaining, earned Langham Most Valuable Player honors. Alabama went on to beat Miami 34-13 in the Sugar Bowl and capture the national crown.

1993: Florida 28, Alabama 13 (Birmingham)

With the Gators leading 14-13 near the end of the third quarter, Florida was faced with a fourth-and-8.

Punter Shayne Edge somehow kept the drive alive. The snap was high and to his right toward the Alabama rush. Edge kept the ball, eluded several Bama defenders with a 20-yard sprint and, on the next play, quarterback Terry Dean hit wideout Jack Jackson for a 43-yard touchdown to give Florida an eight-point cushion.

1994: Florida 24, Alabama 23 (Moved to the Georgia Dome)

Just when it seemed Alabama was in the clear, the Tide wasn’t. Clinging to a 23-17 lead, Bama seemed headed to a 12-0 record and a shot at a second national championship in three years. Then Gators drove 80 yards for the winning touchdown with 5:29 remaining.

On the key play, Chris Doering caught a Danny Wuerffel sideline pass — no, wait, a lateral — behind the line of scrimmage and instead of running, he threw 20 yards to Aubrey Hill to the Alabama 2-yard line. On the next play, Doering caught a 2-yard touchdown pass on an audible by Wuerffel.

Judd Davis added the decisive extra point.

1995: Florida 34, Arkansas 3

It wasn’t decisive. It was more like the coup de grace.

Florida led 24-3 late in the third quarter but the Razorbacks were showing signs of life, driving to the Gators’ 3.

But on fourth-and-1, as quarterback Barry Lunney kept the ball on an option to the left, he was hit from behind by tackle Ed Chester. As Lunney fell, he tried to lateral — too late and too high. Florida defensive back Ben Hanks intercepted the pitchout and, with the crowd roaring, raced 95 yards down the sideline to score.

1996: Florida 45, Alabama 30

The Crimson Tide, despite being outplayed for nearly three quarters, pulled to within 31-28 late in the third quarter on a 94-yard TD pass from Freddie Kitchens to split end Michael Vaughn, a third-down strike that left the crowd of 72,132 gasping.

To that point, the Gators had shown a propensity for shooting themselves in the foot and one more slip-up might have opened the door for Alabama to take the lead. But one play after Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel was sacked by Tide senior linebacker Ralph Staten, Jacquez Green, a sophomore wide receiver from Fort Valley, blew past Bama sophomore cornerback Fernando Bryant down the left sideline. Green was at least 7 yards past him when the ball settled into his hands on the way to an 85-yard touchdown.

The Tide, down 38-28, never threatened seriously again. Florida would go on to beat Florida State 52-20 in the Sugar Bowl for the national championship.

1997: Tennessee 30, Auburn 29

The play that won Tennessee the championship didn’t start out all that pretty.

Auburn led 29-23 when Tennessee’s Marcus Nash ran a 7-yard soft curl route on the Tigers’ sideline. Quarterback Peyton Manning whipped a quick pass to Nash, who was about 2 yards from Auburn defensive back Jayson Bray.

Bray lunged at Nash and got his arms around his legs, but Nash spun free. The only other Auburn player with a chance at him was freshman safety Rob Pate, but he took a bad angle, running perpendicular with the sideline from the middle of the field rather than aiming downfield.

Once Nash avoided Pate, he was all alone on a 73-yard score with 11:14 left to play. Jeff Hall’s kick gave the Vols a 30-29 lead they never relinquished.

“Most teams we play have a special plan to take Marcus out of the game, ” Manning said. “We were trying to run motion away from Marcus to get the defense we wanted. He’s been making those plays all year.”

1998: Tennessee 24, Mississippi State 14

Tee Martin escaped the shadow of Peyton Manning with an SEC championship of his own.

Undefeated Tennessee’s dreams for a national title seemed headed to a disappointing end with 8:43 left when Mississippi State’s Kevin Prentiss returned a punt 83 yards for a touchdown and a 14-10 Bulldogs lead.

But Martin, UT’s quarterback who had been held in check all evening by a blitzing Mississippi State defense, struck back with cold-blooded precision, finding Peerless Price with a perfect 41-yard touchdown pass that gave the Volunteers a 17-14 lead with 6:15 left.

Mississippi State quickly disintegrated, fumbling at its 26 on the next possession. Martin then hit Cedrick Wilson for a touchdown on the next play, giving the Volunteers control of the game.

Price was named the game’s most valuable player for his big touchdown, grabbing six passes for 97 yards.

A month later, Tennessee would beat Florida State 23-16 in the Fiesta Bowl for the national championship.

1999: Alabama 34, Florida 7

Early in the fourth quarter, the Tide defense had dominated but the game was very much in doubt: Alabama 15, Florida 7.

Eighteen seconds later, it was a rout.

With 11:54 left and the Tide at their own 23, wide receiver Freddie Milons took the ball from the quarterback, ran to his left, reversed his field and outran the secondary down the sideline for a touchdown. Seventy-seven yards; Tide up 22-7.

On Florida’s next possession, a pass from Jesse Palmer was tipped and intercepted by defensive end Reggie Grimes, who returned it 38 yards for another touchdown. Tide 28-7 (the PAT failed). Only 18 seconds had elapsed.

“They (the Gators) have a lot of speed and sometimes they over-pursue, ” said Milons, who was unanimously chosen the game’s MVP. “I just cut it back and there was nothing but daylight.”

The Gators ran only 44 plays and were held to 114 total yards. Florida did not convert a third down in nine tries and quarterbacks Palmer and Doug Johnson completed only 7 of 22 passes for 80 yards.

2000: Florida 28, Auburn 6

There was no mystery about how Florida planned to win this game. The Gators came in No. 2 nationally in turnover margin (+18) with the defense having forced 36 takeaways. The winning formula all season for Florida was converting those turnovers into points.

That’s exactly what happened in the first half — three times. On the first play from scrimmage, Auburn quarterback Ben Leard threw a short pass to Reggie Worthy, who fumbled at the Tigers’ 41-yard line. Five plays later, redshirt freshman Rex Grossman threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Reche Caldwell and the Gators had a 7-0 lead.

Auburn drove to the Florida 22 on its next possession only to be stopped by an interception by Lito Sheppard. Three plays later, Caldwell took a pass over the middle and raced 66 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-0.

On its next possession, Auburn drove to the Florida 14-yard line where running back Rudi Johnson fumbled and Florida recovered at the 3. Florida then drove 97 yards and scored for a 21-0 lead with 8:19 left in the half.

“We tried to throw some new things at them but, with their speed, they just didn’t work,” Auburn coach Tommy Tubervillle said. “But when you make as many mistakes as we did, you just can’t expect to beat a team as good as Florida.”

2001: LSU 31, Tennessee 20

The biggest play might have been an injury that launched an LSU football legend.

Tigers quarterback Rohan Davey, who torched the Volunteers in the teams’ previous two meetings, suffered severely bruised ribs on what appeared to be a late hit early in the game. Freshman Matt Mauck, who had played in two games and thrown only 26 passes all season, replaced Davey for the rest of the Tigers’ first touchdown drive, scoring on a 4-yard run.

Davey later returned to the field but was knocked out of action good when he was hit by Tennessee linebacker Tad Golden with 1:22 left in the first half. In the fourth quarter, Mauck scored his second touchdown and before leading the Tigers on another touchdown drive.

Mauck, from Jasper, Ind., originally signed with Michigan State but transferred to LSU when Nick Saban took the job prior to the 2000 season. Mauck completed only five of 15 passes but his running confounded the Tennessee defense. He was named the game’s MVP.

“I was really nervous at the beginning but after that, you just kind of settle into the game, ” said Mauck, a former pro baseball player. “This is a huge team victory for our program.”

The win gave LSU (9-3) its first outright SEC title since 1986 and threw the national championship picture into chaos. Had Tennessee (10-2) won, the Volunteers’ next stop would have been the Rose Bowl, where they would have played for the national championship.

2002: Georgia 30, Arkansas 3

At the end of the game’s first possession, Georgia’s Decory Bryant blocked an Arkansas punt. Thomas Davis scooped up the loose ball and ran to the Arkansas 2. Musa Smith then powered into the end zone standing up to put Georgia ahead 7-0.

Barely three minutes had elapsed.

It wouldn’t get any better for the Razorbacks. The Bulldogs went on to score on their first five possessions for a 23-0 halftime lead.

“I felt like they were playing with 12 [defenders] most of the night, ” Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. Georgia held Arkansas to 8 yards in 14 plays in the first quarter and 139 total yards, including just 65 rushing on 35 carries.

The Bulldogs buried 20 years of frustration with their first SEC title since 1982.

2003: LSU 34, Georgia 13

LSU freshman Justin Vincent didn’t play in the regular season meeting with Georgia, a 17-10 LSU victory. But he rushed for an SEC championship game-record 201 yards and two touchdowns against a talented Georgia defense.

Vincent’s 87-yard TD run set the tone in the first quarter, the first of four straight LSU scores.

The run was the third-longest in LSU history, the school’s longest since 1952, the longest in the SEC that season and the longest ever in an SEC championship game. There was nothing fancy about it. It was a simple toss sweep around right end that was expertly executed and devastatingly blocked by the Tigers. The rest can be attributed to Vincent’s impressive speed and the unique blocking ability of one SEC official.

The first breakdown was by Georgia safety Sean Jones. Safeties have to be sure of containment but Jones took a bad angle on the swift Vincent, who used a stiff-arm to deflect his diving tackle attempt. Next came safety Thomas Davis, a converted linebacker, who simply didn’t have the speed to catch Vincent down the sideline.

Finally, cornerback Bruce Thornton, one of Georgia’s fastest defenders, appeared to have an angle on Vincent, although it would have been deep in Bulldogs territory. But a referee, running inside Vincent near the hashmarks, inadvertently crossed in front of Thornton, knocking him to the ground. Vincent cruised into the end zone.

Vincent became the first freshman to be named MVP in the SEC title game. LSU would later share the national title with USC.

2004: Auburn 38, Tennessee 28

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville did not temper his praise for his senior, the son of a coach from Taylorsville, Miss. Campbell was not considered a Heisman Trophy candidate, but his coach believed he should have been.

“I don’t think there’s a better one in the country,” Tuberville said. “I see all these quarterbacks heading up to New York next week. Well, [Campbell] is one guy who ought to be on that bus.”

Despite a perfect regular season, Auburn did not crack the top two in the BCS ranking — USC beat Oklahoma for the national title) — and the Tigers had to settle for a 16-13 win over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.

2005: Georgia 34, LSU 14

UGA assistant coach Jon Fabris refused to take credit for the blocked punt that turned the tide in Georgia’s win, but everybody else on the Bulldogs’ sideline was giving it to him.

Fabris recognized a weakness on LSU’s punt team and designed a specific play to take advantage of it. Bryan McClendon was the beneficiary of the plan, blocking Chris Jackson’s punt with 9:44 remaining in the first half and swinging momentum back to the Georgia sideline.

“That definitely was a game-changing play and it’s all because of Coach Fab,” McClendon said. “He scouted them real good and all I had to do was do my job.”

“Strategy and scheming only work as well as the players execute it, ” Fabris said. “We had some guys make some plays.”

The play was actually designed for defensive back Ramarcus Brown to block the kick. Brown’s usual responsibility on punt returns was to run downfield and block the opposing team’s “gunner,” who is usually lined up near the sideline. But as the LSU up-back began the snap count, Brown started to shuffle in toward the line of scrimmage, cheating in closer and closer. By the time the ball was snapped, Brown was halfway to the end and running full speed.

The wingback protecting the left side had to make an almost instantaneous decision to block either McClendon or Brown. He chose Brown on the outside and McClendon came through on the inside. After the block, LSU’s Jackson scooped up the loose ball but was brought down deep in LSU territory.

The timing could not have been better for the Bulldogs. With less than 10 minutes remaining in the half and Georgia clinging to a 14-7 lead, momentum had swung over to the LSU sideline after two early Bulldogs touchdowns.

But after the block, Georgia took over at the LSU 15. Quarterback D.J. Shockley scored on a 7-yard scramble, the Bulldogs went ahead 21-7 and were never threatened again.

2006: Florida 38, Arkansas 28

Reggie Fish was the smallest guy on the field and felt even smaller.

Still, Arkansas’ 5-foot-7 return man couldn’t hide from the mess he created. With momentum in the Hogs’ hands, Fish went back and dropped a punt that went through his hands.

The ball fell into the end zone, where Florida’s Wondy Pierre-Louis fell on it. Suddenly, a 21-17 Arkansas lead became a 24-21 Florida advantage with 3:47 left in the third quarter.

“It was a bone-head play, ” Fish said. “This was one of those games where there are four or five plays that make or break the game. Mine was one of those plays.”

And Fish has been left to wonder why he made it. Return specialists are not supposed to field the ball inside their own 10-yard line. Fish knows that.

“I started at the 20, he kicked it high and it just kept floating back and it went into the red zone, ” Fish said. “It kind of caught me by surprise, so I had to go over the shoulder.

“I would take it back if I could, but that is how the chips fell.”

After the Gator defense forced an Arkansas punt, freshman wide receiver Percy Harvin took off on a career-long 67-yard touchdown run on Florida’s first play of the fourth quarter, widening the lead to 31-21.

Florida would later claim the national crown, beating Ohio State 41-14.

2007: LSU 21, Tennessee 14

LSU trailed 14-13 after three quarters, but the team that had come from behind in the fourth quarter to beat Alabama, Auburn and Florida had another comeback in the works.

It happened suddenly.

Tennessee faced third-and-5 at its 14 when Erik Ainge threw for Quintin Hancock.

“I read the formation, ” LSU defensive back Jonathan Zenon said. “Our coaches gave us great looks throughout the week and as soon as I saw the formation, I knew exactly where to go. I just got in front of the ball.”

Zenon made an interception and ran untouched into the end zone at the end of the Dome filled with Tennessee fans. As they sat stunned, Tigers fans filling out the crowd of 73,832 roared from the other end.

“I shouldn’t have thrown the ball out there, ” Ainge said later. “I mean, just as much as he made a good play, I made a bad decision.”

He would make one more.

Tennessee had a first down at the LSU 14 in the closing minutes, but LSU’s Darry Beckwith clinched the victory with another interception.

“Those guys are fast, they come from far distances and I didn’t see him, ” Ainge said.

LSU later beat Ohio State 38-24 for the national title.

2008: Florida 31, Alabama 20

Tim Tebow was the game’s MVP with three touchdown passes but it was a local player who snuffed out any hopes of an Alabama comeback.

Florida defensive end Jermaine Cunningham, who starred at Stephenson High, was the hometown hero. His 11-yard sack in the fourth quarter stopped an Alabama drive, preserving the Gators’ 24-20 lead. With less than two minutes remaining and the lead expanded to 31-20, Cunningham pressured quarterback John Parker Wilson into a desperate heave that led to a game-clinching interception.

“I have to give credit to our defensive coordinator and to [defensive end] Carlos Dunlap, ” Cunningham said of the sack. “Without him and that call, there probably wouldn’t have been a sack. But it was a turning point in the game where we needed to come up with a play and we got a sack.”

Cunningham’s only regret was that he couldn’t get more tickets for his family and friends.

Still, he added: “It feels good to come home on a big stage like this and come out victorious.”

In the national championship game, Florida beat Oklahoma 24-14.

2009: Alabama 32, Florida 13

In the 10 years since Alabama had won its last conference crown, the once-proud program had been struck down by NCAA probation and endured a bizarre cycle of coaching changes.

But on this day, the Tide to put to bed the Albert Means recruiting scandal and buried those coaches who preferred Texas A&M (Dennis Francione) or a wild night out on the town (Mike Price) while restoring Alabama football.

Under the coach it had hired away from the NFL three seasons ago for such a moment, Nick Saban, the eventual national champion Tide looked as powerful as ever.

Perhaps the key “play” came at the end of a game, for any suspense had left the building much earlier. The memory that lingers: Florida quarterback Tim Tebow crying as the final seconds ticked away.

“It’s tough. It’s not how you want to go out, ” said Tebow, who saw his hopes for a third national title slip away.

Tebow accounted for 310 total yards, completing 20 of 35 passes for 247 yards and rushing 10 times for 63. But Florida had only 25 yards of offense that didn’t involve him and was outgained 490-335 by the relentless Crimson Tide.

After the game, Saban was spotted talking to Tebow and the quarterback was later asked about the conversation.

“I can’t remember everything,” Tebow said. “He just said, ‘Keep your head up, you’re a great player. You’ve had a great career and just keep your head up and don’t change who you are.’ And that’s pretty much what I got from it.”

Ironically, Saban said it was Tebow, particularly against the Crimson Tide in the previous year’s 31-20 Florida win in the SEC Championship, that he held up an example to his own Alabama players that year.

2010: Auburn 56, South Carolina 17

Former Westlake High School star Cam Newton, playing just 15 miles from his Atlanta home and trying to put a recruiting scandal behind him, passed for a career-high 335 yards and four touchdowns and ran for a pair of TDs in an MVP performance that only tightened his grip on the Heisman Trophy.

Before it became a rout, the Gamecocks trailed only by seven and simply had to knock down Newton’s last-gasp pass with six seconds left to get to halftime. They couldn’t do it.

Newton heaved a Hail Mary bomb 55 yards and DeVonte Holloman leaped to tip it away. But the deflection went right to Harrison High alum Darvin Adams for an improbable touchdown and the rout was on.

The Tigers set an SEC Championship game record for scoring and piled up 589 yards. Newton, who at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds was larger than South Carolina's linebackers, had a hand in 408 yards before he exited with seven minutes to play.

Auburn went on to win the national championship, beating Oregon 22-19 in the title game to finish 14-0.

2011: LSU 42, Georgia 10

The “Honey Badger” was a game changer.

With Georgia leading 10-0 in the waning minutes of the first half — LSU had yet to make a first down — Tigers safety Tyrann Mathieu made three plays within 10 minutes spanning second and third quarters to flip the game.

Mathieu first returned a 62-yard punt for a touchdown with 5:48 mark left in the half. Next, he recovered a fumble to set up the Tigers’ first offensive score early in the third quarter. He followed that with a highlight-reel 47-yard punt return to set up yet another score just two minutes later.

On that return, Mathieu took off down the center of the field, cut back to his left, stutter-stepped, turned on a burst of speed, and then came to a stop around the Georgia 30, before taking off again. He was finally dragged down at the 17.

By the 10:37 mark of the third quarter, LSU led 21-10 and had seized momentum to the point that victory seemed inevitable. As they had done all season, the Tigers only stepped on the gas from there.

Mathieu was the runaway pick as game MVP. He finished with 119 all-purpose yards as well as four tackles and a pass breakup. His touchdown was his fourth of the season.

“I just wanted to do as much as I could for my team, ” said Mathieu, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound sophomore. “We started out slow and I wanted to shift the momentum of the game.”

In the national title game, LSU would lose 21-0 to a familiar foe: Alabama, which had missed out on the SEC Championship game due to a November loss to LSU.

2012: Alabama 32, Georgia 28

It was the most nerve-wracking ending in the title game’s history — the football equivalent of baseball’s bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, full count, home team down.

Trailing by four points, Aaron Murray, Georgia’s quarterback, got the ball back one last time with 1:08 to play and 85 yards to go for a deciding stuff-of-legend touchdown. In just 53 seconds, the Bulldogs flew down the field, advancing all the way to the Alabama 5-yard line.

With 10 seconds to play and no timeouts, Murray tried to throw to wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell in the back of the right end zone. The ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage and landed in the hands of receiver Chris Conley, who caught it perhaps by instinct. He was downed in bounds at the 5 and Georgia couldn’t stop the final five seconds from ticking away. It was a worse scenario for Georgia than an incomplete pass, which would have stopped the clock and permitted another play.

It was easily the most entertaining contest in the title game’s history.

“Someone asked me just a second ago what I thought the difference was,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “All I could think of was, we just ran out of time.”

“They could have won just as soon as us,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “It came right down to the last play.”

The Crimson Tide went on to win the national championship, beating Notre Dame 42-14. Perhaps, the SEC Championship had been the real championship game.

2013: Auburn 59, Missouri 42

Missouri scored 42, which would have been enough to win 18 of the first 21 SEC title games, and gained 534 yards, which would have ranked third in this game’s history. And still Mizzou never had anything approaching a handle on this game.

That’s because the Tigers never could put a hand on Tre Mason, the Auburn back who rushed for 304 yards, nearly breaking the existing SEC championship record of 201 in the first half.

Both teams wore out the carpet at the Dome, combing for 12 offensive touchdowns, 101 points and 1,211 yards. Indeed, there were times when both teams appeared content just to let the other one score to get the ball back.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, perhaps cognizant of the scoring free-for-all ahead, called for an onside kick — with four minutes left in the first quarter. Auburn recovered. Forget defense and field position and old-man-football stuff. Malzahn was essentially saying: this game would be about having the ball and fleeing downfield with it.

Alas, the audacious gamble only resulted in a missed field goal, but it kept the ball out of Missouri’s hands for 1:45.

2014: Alabama 42, Missouri 13

Alabama quarterback Blake Sims, the MVP, completed 23 of 27 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns after opening the game with nine straight completions, tying the SEC Championship record. But it was two long Alabama drives that Sims led that put the game away.

Missouri had scored 10 unanswered points to come within 21-13 on an Andrew Baggett field goal with 4:37 left in the third quarter.

Sims, from Gainesville, then put together a textbook drive that covered 64 yards on 10 plays and gave Alabama a 28-13 lead with 14:55 left. Sims was 5 for 5 on the drive, which included two 17-yard connections to Christion Jones.

On the next Tide possession, Sims led a 90-yard drive, which included a 17-yard run for a crucial first down, to put the game out of reach.

2015: Alabama 29, Florida 15

On score alone, it was the second-closest SEC championship in seven years. In truth, it wasn’t close at all. Alabama outgained Florida by 257 yards, had 25 first downs to the Gators’ seven and held the ball for 43 1/2 minutes.

Florida gained 1 yard in the second quarter and only managed to double that in the third.

Still, at halftime Alabama led by just 12-7, with the Gators’ touchdown coming on an 85-yard punt return by Antonio Callaway.

Near the end of the third quarter, quarterback Jake Coker led the Crimson Tide on a 10-play drive that removed any suspense, with ArDarius Stewart making a spectacular leaping catch on a 32-yard scoring play.

It was now a two-score game and a mission impossible against Alabama’s defense.

The Tide would go on to win the national championship game 45-40 over Clemson.