LSU's disappointing title defense didn't lack for excitement as the Tigers were involved in a number of entertaining matchups
The 2020 SEC season provided plenty of memorable moments, from Sarah Fuller's historic appearances at kicker for Vanderbilt; to DeVonta Smith becoming the first wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy since 1991.
In a season that featured the surreal and unreal, the SEC also produced some of the year's very best games.
10 Best SEC Games of 2020
10. Mississippi State 44, LSU 34 – Sept. 26
LSU proved close to untouchable en route to the 2019 national championship. So how might the Bayou Bengals look in 2020 without quarterback Joe Burrow and offensive coordinator Joe Brady leading the offense? Scoring 34 points against Mississippi State wasn't a bad start, but Game 1 set an ominous tone for a defense that struggled all season.
Mike Leach's first game coaching in the SEC may have set unrealistic expectations for the coach going forward, but on that opening Saturday of the league's slate, K.J. Costello thrived and the Bulldogs flourished. Costello did not finish the season starting for MSU, but he is in the SEC record books after racking up 623 passing yards.
9. Arkansas 21, Mississippi State 14 – Oct. 3
The preceding game is a necessary introduction to this matchup, which was the polar opposite from Mississippi State's win over LSU the preceding week. Sam Pittman's Razorbacks successfully pulled Mike Leach's Bulldogs into a rock fight, forcing three interceptions in the process: two for Joe Foucha, and a critical pick-six from Greg Brooks Jr.
Bonus points belong to the Arkansas social media team for dropping this delightful tweet in the aftermath.
8. Auburn 35, Ole Miss 28 – Oct. 24
A nail-biter throughout, Gus Malzahn made the bold decision to go for a two-point conversion after a Tank Bigsby touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The failed attempt opened the door for Ole Miss to reclaim the lead and put the Tigers' backs against the wall in the final moments.
Bo Nix responded by finding Seth Williams in traffic. Williams made one of the most beautiful plays of the season, splitting Ole Miss defenders and creating daylight to the end zone.
7. Ole Miss 42, Kentucky 41 – Oct. 3
As offenses around the SEC have evolved, the conference has produced scores reminiscent of the league's basketball teams. But when Kentucky went 12 plays in more than six minutes to score the overtime-forcing touchdown against Ole Miss, it provided a dash of old-school, smash-mouth SEC football in a high-scoring bonanza.
Matt Corral's four touchdown passes, half of which went to Jonathan Mingo on a stellar day for the wide receiver, led Ole Miss to the victory. Corral hooked up with Elijah Moore for the game-winner in overtime -- or, at least, conceding the floor to Luke Logan for the game-winner after Kentucky missed the preceding PAT attempt.
6. LSU 53, Ole Miss 48 – Dec. 19
Kayshon Boutte set quite the bar for the remainder of his football career, closing out a Freshman All-America season with an absurd 308 receiving yards and three touchdowns in a wild shootout against Ole Miss.
In Lane Kiffin's first season in Oxford, Ole Miss turned up the gas on its offense. Against a downtrodden LSU defense that struggled throughout Bo Pelini's ill-fated return as defensive coordinator, the Rebels managed 48 points -- all while giving up five interceptions.
Indeed, this one had all the makings of an early 2010s Big 12 game, right down to the rollicking comeback LSU completed in the fourth quarter, which included the last of Boutte's touchdown catches.
5. Missouri 45, LSU 41 – Oct. 24
A clip from an old Spider-Man cartoon, in which the Webbed Wonder and a doppelganger accusingly point at one another, has grown into a wildly popular meme.
The imagery functions as a perfect crystallization of Missouri's thrilling defeat of LSU. In this matchup of Tigers vs. Tigers, the two exchanged points in a game-long, nip-tuck contest. The teams even traded missed field goals in the second half. After Missouri took the lead late, LSU marched down the field and appeared poised to score the game-winner.
But in a game, and season, wherein offense defined the SEC, the Tigers -- er, the Missouri version of Tigers -- won with an excellent, goal-line stand.
GOAL. LINE. STAND.— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) October 10, 2020
MISSOURI UPSETS LSU!
4. Alabama 52, Florida 46 (SEC Championship Game) – Dec. 19
A performance that really should have solidified Kyle Pitts' case to be an extremely rare Heisman invitee playing tight end highlighted Florida's effort in the SEC Championship Game. But, as good as Pitts was with seven catches for 129 yards and a touchdown, DeVonta Smith and Najee Harris both absolutely went off en route to the Crimson Tide's seventh SEC championship since 2009.
Smith put an exclamation point on his case for the Heisman with 184 receiving yards and two touchdowns, while Harris accounted for five scores: three receiving, two rushing.
3. Alabama 63, Ole Miss 48 – Oct. 10
In 2014, Nick Saban made a program-changing hire when he brought Lane Kiffin into Alabama to oversee a spread/hurry-up- influenced offense. The most prolific version of the Crimson Tide's new look took shape in the 2020 season, approaching its peak with the 63 points it dumped on Kiffin's new team at Ole Miss.
However, the Rebels put a scare into the Crimson Tide during the first meeting between Kiffin, one of the coaches who has succeeded since leaving Tuscaloosa, and Saban. Two Rebels rushed for more than 100 yards (Snoop Conner, who scored a fourth-quarter touchdown to tie the game; and Jerrion Ealy); and another two went for more than 100 receiving (Kenny Yeboah and Elijah Moore).
But Alabama pulled away late in the fourth quarter, starting with a rushing touchdown from DeVonta Smith. He turned out to have a pretty decent season.
2. Texas A&M 41, Florida 38 – Oct. 10
A star-making performance from Isaiah Spiller provided the catalyst of Texas A&M's rally from down 11 points late in the third quarter, and powered the Aggies to what was arguably their biggest conference win since Johnny Manziel's legendary showing at Alabama in 2012.
Spiller rushed for 174 yards and scored his two touchdowns during the critical, comeback stretch. Florida recaptured the lead in the fourth quarter, but Kellen Mond's 51-yard touchdown pass to Caleb Chapman and Seth Smalls' chip-shot field goal as time expired sealed the win.
1. LSU 37, Florida 34 – Dec. 12
In the brief history of the College Football Playoff, a thrown shoe had never before impacted the field. That changed on a foggy night in Florida last December.
With the score tied at 34 and LSU about to face a fourth down, Marco Wilson was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct that kept the Tigers' drive alive.
Coincidentally, Wilson's toss of Kole Taylor's shoe was almost 12 years to the day (Dec. 14) that Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi threw shoes at President George W. Bush during a press conference.
The penalty set the stage for Cade York's remarkable 57-yard, game-winning field goal. It was a bizarre game perfectly befitting of the strangest season in recent memory.
— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.