When it comes to the SEC you may not think of high-flying offenses that put up scores you might expect to see more commonly in the Big 12 or Pac-12, but even the SEC got involved in some high-scoring contests this season. And yes, there was a nice assortment of defensive battles and strong running games leading the charge in the SEC this season, so there was a little something for everybody in 2015. Here’s hoping this top 10 list satisfies fans of high-scoring overtime thrillers and those who prefer grinding in the trenches for some hard-earned short gains.
Here are a few that are worth remembering, but just didn’t make the cut:
Auburn 31, Louisville 24: Auburn held on for a victory in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic in Atlanta. Up 24-0, Auburn held on for a 31-24 victory.
Auburn 27, Jacksonville State 20 (OT): Auburn needed to force overtime to get by one of the FCS’ top teams. Some over-coaching from the Jaguars may have helped Auburn out too.
LSU 21, Mississippi State 19: Leonard Fournette rushed for 159 yards and all three LSU touchdowns in an early road win for the Tigers.
Missouri 20, BYU 16: A week after a stressful time around the Missouri campus, the Tigers rallied together for a well-deserved victory against a good BYU team.
Mississippi State 51, Arkansas 50: Here’s one shootout that did not go the way Arkansas would have liked. Dak Prescott passed for 508 yards and five touchdowns in the win.
10. LSU 45, Auburn 21 – Sept. 19
After opening the season with a close call in Atlanta against Louisville and an even closer call at home against Jacksonville State, LSU gave Auburn a big dose of reality with a dominating performance that put Leonard Fournette at the front of the Heisman Trophy discussions. Fournette rushed for 228 yards and three touchdowns as LSU pummeled the preseason trendy pick in the SEC. LSU stormed out to a 24-0 lead at halftime and put things on cruise control the rest of the way for a nice early statement game.
9. Texas A&M 28, Arkansas 21 (OT) – Sept. 26
The 2015 season did not start well for Arkansas. Following losses to Toledo and Texas Tech at home, Texas A&M handed Arkansas a third straight loss in Arlington. Texas A&M tied the game late in the fourth quarter following a drive that saw three straight first downs highlighted by a 63-yard pass from Kyle Allen to Josh Reynolds. After Texas A&M scored in the overtime, Arkansas was unable to pick up a first down and the game ended. Texas A&M improved to 4-0 and continued to climb the rankings while Arkansas dropped to 1-3.
8. Tennessee 38, Georgia 31 – Oct. 10
Tennessee has been known to blow some big leads, as they have done a couple of times this season, but on Oct. 10 in Knoxville it was the Volunteers who came from behind for a wild win against Georgia. The Bulldogs held a 24-3 lead in the second quarter but only got to halftime with a seven-point edge on the Vols. In the second half, Tennessee continued to capitalize on the momentum swing by taking a 31-24 lead on a short pass from Joshua Dobbs to Alvin Kamara, and Dobbs gave the Vols a game-winning touchdown with 5:48 to play in the fourth quarter after Georgia had tied the game at 31-31.
7. Arkansas 54, Auburn 46 (4OT) – Oct. 24
It took four overtimes for Auburn and Arkansas to settle their differences. The two teams traded touchdown for touchdown through three overtime sessions before Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen completed a 25-yard scoring strike to Drew Morgan on the first play of the fourth overtime. After a successful two-point conversion attempt by the Razorbacks, Auburn’s last attempt to keep things going fell incomplete on a fourth down pass from Sean White toward Ricardo Lewis.
6. Arkansas 53, Ole Miss 52 (OT) – Nov. 5
Arkansas had a knack for these high-scoring contests this season. This one took the cake though. Brandon Allen completed a pass to Hunter Henry on a fourth-and-25 play in overtime (with Ole Miss already up a score), and Henry flung the ball back before being tackled and Alex Collins picked it up and somehow ran for a 31-yard gain to keep the game alive. A two-point conversion by Arkansas was no good but the Razorbacks got another crack at it following a face mask penalty on Marquise Haynes, and Allen ran into the end zone for the overtime win.
5. Florida 28, Tennessee 27 – Sept. 26
It has been a long time since Tennessee defeated Florida, and the Volunteers let one slip away in Gainesville this season. With the Vols leading the rival Gators 27-14, everything seemed to be squared away for a road win in SEC East play. Tennessee just had to find a way to milk 10 more minutes off the clock against an offense that was doing very little of anything, but the Gators got some breaks. A 17-play, 86-yard drive ended with Will Grier completing a five-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Powell with 4:09 to play to cut the Vols’ lead to six. On the next drive, on a fourth-and-14 from the Florida 37-yard line, Grier launched a pass up for grabs and Antonio Callaway got his hands on it and ran the rest of the way down the field for a go-ahead score. It was Florida’s 11th straight win against Tennessee.
4. Alabama 19, Tennessee 14 – Oct. 24
It has been a long time since Tennessee defeated Alabama, and they let one slip away in Tuscaloosa this season (notice a theme here?). Up 14-13 with 5:49 to play following Jalen Hurd’s go-ahead touchdown run on a quick four-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, Tennessee could not stop Derrick Henry on the ground and Jake Coker made some key passes to move the football down the field. On first down form the 14-yard line, Henry broke loose for a 14-yard score to regain the lead and Tennessee fumbled away its upset bid on the fourth play of the ensuing drive.
3. LSU 35, Florida 28 – Oct. 15
At the time it looked as though this could be a preview of the SEC Championship Game, and if that was the case then it certainly set the bar high. Leonard Fournette continued pushing his early Heisman campaign with 180 rushing yards against a solid Florida offense, and the Gators held their own on offense to make a game of it in Baton Rouge. Les Miles pulled into his hat for a fake field goal that took Florida by surprise and led to what would turn out to be a game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. Kicker Trent Dominique took a fake field goal 16 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
2. Alabama 30, LSU 16 – Nov. 5
Alabama and LSU always seem to play some good old-fashioned slobber knockers. This season, LSU entered the game looking to firmly take control of the SEC West heading down the stretch and cement running back Leonard Fournette’s place as Heisman Trophy front-runner. Nothing went according to plan for LSU though as the Alabama defense stuffed Fournette for just 31 yards on 19 carries while Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry went off for 210 yards and three touchdowns to become the new Heisman favorite. Alabama’s defense shut LSU down after halftime, as Alabama outscored LSU 17-6 in the second half.
1. Ole Miss 43, Alabama 37 – Sept. 19
The game where it seemed the cracks in Alabama’s SEC and College Football Playoff hopes appeared to be opened and exposed came at home against an Ole Miss team that showed it was not a fluke to win against the Crimson Tide the previous season. Ole Miss, thanks to the strength and luck of quarterback Chad Kelly going off for 341 yards and three touchdowns, took a 43-24 lead in the fourth quarter.
Kelly completed a desperation throw under pressure for a 73-yard touchdown to Cody Core and just minutes later it was Laquon Treadwell finding room for a 24-yard touchdown pass to take the steam out of Alabama, at least for a few moments. Alabama made an effort to find a way to a win with Derrick Henry running for a touchdown and Jake Coker completing a short touchdown pass to Richard Mullaney with 4:33 to play, but Ole Miss hung on for a frantic 43-37 victory.
— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also writes for CollegeFootballTalk.com and hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.
(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)