This was not your typical season in the SEC, where Alabama dominated the league more than any team in recent memory and the rest of the conference was tightly bunched in a band of mediocrity. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t some good football being played however, and there were once again several classics that will be talked about for years to come.
Among all those upsets, wild endings and hugely important shakeups though, which ones were the best games? It’s hard to narrow things down of course, but here are the best 10 SEC games of the 2016 regular season and the five best non-conference contests involving a SEC school.
10 Best SEC Games of 2016 Regular Season
10. Florida 16, LSU 10 — Nov. 19
The game itself was a classic defensive struggle — mostly the product of two mediocre offenses — in which yards and points were hard to come by. But the off-the-field bickering between the two schools over where and when to play this game after Hurricane Matthew postponed it only raised the stakes and the fact that Florida won the SEC East as the result of an all-or-nothing goal line stuff of Derrius Guice only added to this one.
9. Georgia 28, Missouri 27 — Sept. 18
Missouri’s defense had one of its best outings of the season in limiting the Bulldogs’ normally potent rushing attack to just 101 yards. Opposite day continued as Georgia’s freshman quarterback Jacob Eason ended up throwing the ball 55 times to out-duel Drew Lock on the other side. The youngster saved his best for last however, operating the two-minute drill with ease to find Isaiah McKenzie on fourth down in the end zone for a 20-yard strike that proved to be the game-winner. Missouri ended up fumbling on its next snap to end the game.
8. Tennessee 38, Florida 28 — Sept. 24
Tennessee took out more than a decade of frustration on rival Florida and appeared, at the time, to finally live up to all that preseason praise with another thrilling comeback to snap an 11-game losing streak. The Gators jumped out to a 21-point lead in the second quarter behind a balanced attack but the Volunteers came roaring back to the tune of 38 straight points in front of a wild home crowd. The UT defense came up big down the stretch despite injuries and the offense started to click with Joshua Dobbs after a slow start. Talk about a wild swing of emotions for those in orange.
7. Vanderbilt 45, Tennessee 34 — Nov. 26
This time, Tennessee was on the opposite end of a second-half comeback, one that very likely cost the Volunteers a spot in the Sugar Bowl in the process. Commodores quarterback Kyle Shurmur threw for a career-high 416 yards and looked like Peyton Manning at times as he sliced through a banged-up defense. In the process, Vanderbilt became bowl eligible without needing to resort to an APR tie-breaker thanks to the win over its in-state rivals. To make matters worse, some bungled clock management out of Butch Jones on the final drive made things even tougher in the end.
6. Mississippi State 35, Texas A&M 28 — Nov. 5
There was no bigger surprise in the College Football Playoff rankings this year than seeing Texas A&M sitting at No. 4 ahead of Washington. The Aggies would prove that ranking moot however, by getting blitzed by a lackluster Mississippi State team in Starkville the following Saturday, as Nick Fitzgerald played the game of his young career. Texas A&M QB Trevor Knight was injured as the offense slowed to a halt for Kevin Sumlin in a highlight win for the Bulldogs that ultimately helped them go bowling, despite finishing 5-7.
5. Ole Miss 29, Texas A&M 28 — Nov. 12
Just when you thought things were bad for Texas A&M, it got even worse late in the season. Up big in the second half at home, playing against a freshman quarterback, the Aggies ended up blowing a 15-point, fourth-quarter lead to turn up the hot seat on head coach Kevin Sumlin. Ole Miss true freshman quarterback Shea Patterson flipped some sort of switch to help key the comeback and finished with 338 passing yards before getting the team in position to kick a 39-yard field goal to win it in stunning fashion.
4. Alabama 48, Ole Miss 43 — Sept. 17
The Rebels seemingly had Nick Saban’s number after winning two seasons in a row against the Crimson Tide. For a while, it looked like they had it again in jumping out to a 24-3 lead with just minutes left in the first half. But Alabama reverted back to Alabama and used two quick scores — including an 85-yard punt return touchdown by Eddie Jackson — to come storming back to take the lead. Jonathan Allen’s fumble return for a score appeared to ice the game with five minutes to go but Ole Miss scored twice more to make things interesting before Alabama ended the threat and the losing streak.
3. Texas A&M 45, Tennessee 38 (2OT) — Oct. 8
A battle of top-10 teams lived up to the early billing with a thrilling finish that saw the Volunteers rally from six turnovers to force overtime but fail to overcome a seventh as the Aggies held on in a pivotal SEC matchup. Texas A&M thought it had all but secured a victory when Trevor Knight busted out a 62-yard run with just three minutes left in the game to go up two scores. However, Alvin Kamara scored twice in the final two minutes to force overtime before Knight ended things for good with another touchdown on the ground in the second extra frame to cap off a super long thriller for both teams.