The gap has certainly closed but the SEC is still college football's premier conference.
The No. 1 team in the nation, the toughest division in football, a glut of Heisman Trophy candidates and nationally relevant coaches made the SEC must-see TV this fall.
But it wasn’t just the Iron Bowl, Les Miles or the ACC-SEC round-robin that made the SEC great theatre this fall. A coaching change/search at one of the league’s most powerful programs, the rise of the Magnolia State into national prominence and the advent of a four-team College Football Playoff made the 2014 campaign a season no SEC fan will ever forget.
Here are the most memorable SEC games of the year:
1. (11) Ole Miss 23, (3) Alabama 17
For about seven minutes, Bo Wallace was downright brilliant and Alabama's special teams were not. Two Wallace touchdown passes and two 'Bama turnovers led to a historic and memorable victory over the Tide in "College GameDay’s" first-ever visit to The Grove.
2. (1) Alabama 55, (15) Auburn 44
While there was no SEC West or SEC title hanging in the balance, the intensity still delivered for these two hated rivals. Neither team played much defense in this record-setting Iron Bowl, as Alabama outscored Auburn 34-10 over the following 23 minutes after trailing by 12 in the third quarter. The win kept 'Bama in the playoff picture.
3. (5) Alabama 20, (16) LSU 13 (OT)
Always physical and always intense, the heavily-favored Crimson Tide needed a historic drive from Blake Sims to defeat the Tigers. Sims led 'Bama 55 yards over the final 50 seconds to tie the game before going on to win in overtime.
4. (3) Auburn 35, (4) Ole Miss 31
Literally and figuratively, the Rebels' home loss to Auburn might be one of the most painful in school or SEC history. No one on either side of the ledger will forget when Laquon Treadwell fumbled and broke his leg with 1:30 to go, as he was falling into the end zone for the game-winning score. The back-and-forth affair never featured a lead of more than seven points.
5. (24) LSU 10, (3) Ole Miss 7
It wasn’t always pretty but it was extremely memorable. The physical units beat each other up for 60 minutes before Ole Miss had a chance to win in the final moments. But a bizarre decision by Bo Wallace (and, to some extent, Hugh Freeze) in the final moments of the game began a tough final month for the Rebs.
6. (24) South Carolina 38, (6) Georgia 35
This SEC East rivalry has become of the most important and entertaining in the league and this year’s version didn’t disappoint. Todd Gurley and Dylan Thompson went back and forth all game while special teams and a goal-line stand played critical roles in the second half.
7. Texas A&M 41, (3) Auburn 38
The thrilling road upset by the Aggies was highlighted by two of the most bizarre fumbles the SEC has ever seen. After a furious second-half rally, Auburn appeared to have the game won or at least tied at two different times in the final moments. But a tangled exchanged at the two-yard line and a bizarre center snap on the 28 cost Auburn the game. Texas A&M was a 23-point underdog and this win also helped christen Kyle Allen as the future in College Station.
8. (6) Texas A&M 35, Arkansas 28 (OT)
The Hogs appeared to be poised for their first SEC win under Bret Bielema until Kenny Hill snatched victory away from Arkansas. Trailing by two touchdowns in the final frame, Hill connected on two long touchdown throws and added the game-winner on the first play of overtime to score 21 unanswered points and give Texas A&M the win.
9. (17) Missouri 21, Arkansas 14
The Hogs played extremely well for three quarters before a road-grading, old-school touchdown drive gave Missouri the SEC East championship. The Tigers ran 12 plays for 85 yards to score the game-winner with just six minutes left in the game. A turnover forced by Markus Golden eventually sealed the win in what should develop into an underrated border rivalry.
10. Florida 36, Kentucky 30 (3OT)
Kentucky fans will only remember what happened before the play and won’t ever forget what happened at the end. After the play clock appeared to hit zero, Jeff Driskel connected with Demarcus Robinson on 4th-and-7 in overtime to tie the game and keep Florida alive. Two overtimes later, Matt Jones scored the game-winning touchdown.
11. (16) Georgia Tech 30, (9) Georgia 24 (OT)
The 109th edition of Clean, Old Fashioned hate was one of the best. Mark Richt appeared to have won a sixth straight game over Paul Johnson, taking the lead with just 18 seconds left. But somehow Tech managed to get into field goal range and tie the game as time expired before prevailing in overtime.
12. (5) Auburn 42, South Carolina 35
South Carolina came to Auburn as a heavy underdog but proved to be anything but an easy out. The two high-powered offenses traded scores for the better part of 60 minutes before Auburn’s defense finally got a few stops in the fourth quarter. The two teams combined for 1,086 yards of offense and three total punts.
13. Tennessee 45, South Carolina 42 (OT)
Joshua “Astro” Dobbs became a household name in the miraculous comeback win over the Gamecocks. The Vols trailed 42-28 with less than five minutes to play before Dobbs led a whirlwind comeback in Columbia. Dobbs set a school record with 467 total yards of offense and became the first Vol to throw for at least 300 yards and rush for at least 100 in the same game.
14. (5) Alabama 25, (1) Mississippi St 20
It wasn’t as close as the score indicated but anytime two teams ranked in the top five get together, it’s cause for celebration. Alabama was clearly the better team but the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs acquitted themselves well, fighting back to lose by only five.
15. (19) Ole Miss 31, (4) Mississippi St 17
It wasn’t as dramatic or action-packed as some others but few games this year matched the intensity that the Egg Bowl produced. The Bulldogs led midway through the third quarter before Ole Miss went on a 24-7 run to end the game and knock MSU out of the playoffs.
The Best of the Rest:
16. Missouri 21, (13) South Carolina 20
17. (22) Louisville 44, Kentucky 40
18. (13) LSU 28, (14) Wisconsin 24
19. LSU 30, Florida 27
20. (12) Georgia 35, Tennessee 32
21. South Carolina 23, Florida 20 (OT)
22. (5) Auburn 20, (20) Kansas St 14
23. (7) Alabama 14, Arkansas 13
24. (12) Georgia 45, (16) Clemson 21
25. Mississippi St 34, (8) LSU 29
26. Kentucky 45, South Carolina 38
27. (3) Florida St 24, Florida 19
28. (3) Mississippi St 38, (2) Auburn 23
29. Florida 10, Tennessee 9
30. (20) Missouri 29, Tennessee 21