Each SEC School's Best Football Team Since 2010

In this article, I highlight each school's best and second best football teams since the 2010 season.
LSU v Alabama
LSU v Alabama / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

The SEC has been the undisputed premier conference in college football the last two decades. The conference dominated the BCS and 4-team playoff eras and looks to continue that dominance in the coming years.

Since 2010, four different SEC schools have won a national championship. Given the cyclical nature of college football, picking each school's best team since 2010 can be difficult, but fortunately I am up for the challenge. I chose 2010 as the cutoff year because I really wanted to choose a round number, and 2010 fits that bill perfectly.

Since Texas nor Oklahoma played a game as a member of the SEC during this time period, they were not included in this list. I do apologize, profusely at that, to any Longhorns or Sooners fans that believe they were brought to this article under false pretenses. It was never the intention of this writer to misguide anyone.

Here is Each SEC School's Best Football Team Since 2010:

Alabama Crimson Tide

Best Team: 2020 Alabama
Runner-up: 2012 Alabama

The pandemic-shortened season gets an asterisk in some eyes, but there is no denying that this team was absolutely loaded. The offense featured first round draft picks at Quarterback, Running Back, two at Wide Receiver, and the offensive line.

Mac Jones, Najee Harris, and DeVonta Smith were all Heisman finalists, with the ladder taking home the trophy. There is an argument to be made that this was the best offense in college football history (more on that later.)

This team went a perfect 13-0, including 11 conference wins, and won Nick Saban's final national championship with dominating playoff wins over Notre Dame and Ohio State.

The unblemished record and dominating offense gives the 2020 team the leg up on other championship winning Alabama teams. Arguments could be made for the second best team, but ultimately the 2012 team gets that credit after crushing Notre Dame in the BCS Championship game and then having basically the entire roster play in the NFL.

Auburn Tigers

Best Team: 2010 Auburn
Runner-up: 2013 Auburn

This one is actually a tough call. The 2010 Auburn Tigers were led by Heisman winner Cam Newton on offense and Nick Fairly on defense, but the rest of the roster was not all that talented.

Even still, they get the nod over the more well-rounded 2013 squad because they won a national championship and the 2013 team did not, after falling in the last minute to Florida State in the BCS title game. Plus, if the teams played head-to-head, no one would have stopped Cam Newton.

The 2010 Tigers/War Eagles went 14-0, including their historic comeback, dubbed "The Camback", against rival Alabama in Tuscaloosa. They crushed South Carolina in the SEC championship game before beating the high-powered Oregon Ducks in the BCS Championship Game to cap off their historic and unexpectedly great season.

Arkansas Razorbacks

Best Team: 2011 Arkansas
Runner-up: 2010 Arkansas

In a season that is mostly remembered for the Alabama vs LSU rematch in the title game, many forget that Arkansas was in serious title contention for the majority of the year.

Led by All-SEC QB Tyler Wilson, Arkansas had a 10-1 record and was ranked #3 going into the LSU game to end the regular season, with their lone loss coming on the road to then #3 ranked Alabama. A win in Baton Rouge would have set up a 3-way tie atop the SEC West and created utter chaos.

That game obviously did not go their way, but the Gillette Razorbacks were able to rebound nicely with a Cotton Bowl victory over Kansas State. Overall, this team won 11 games, including wins over four top-15 teams, and only lost to the two national title game participants.

The 2010 Bobby Petrino coached team also won 10 regular season games before a tough loss against Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, a victory that Ohio State later vacated due to NCAA violations.

Florida Gators

Best Team: 2012 Florida
Runner-up: 2020 Florida

The Will Muschamp-led Florida Gators would have loved a 4-team playoff in 2012. Unsurprisingly led by a chomping defense, the Gators had impressive wins over top-10 ranked LSU, South Carolina, and Florida State, and even shut down that year's Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel in Week 2.

While they struggled on the offensive side of the ball, their defense bullied opponents while allowing only 14.5 points per game.

Their lone loss of the regular season painfully came in a sloppy, low-scoring game against arch-rival Georgia in a game where the Gators turned the ball over an astounding six times. This loss cost them the SEC East and ultimately squandered any hopes at winning a MusChampionship.

The 2020 Gators were more-or-less the exact opposite of the 2012 team. The SEC East champions were known for their passing attack as Kyle Trask was able to throw the ball all over the field.

The most famous throw of the season, however, came on the defensive side of the ball when defender Marco Wilson launched an LSU player's cleat after a timely third-down stop late in the game. LSU took advantage and went on to kick the game-winning FG a mere seconds later.

Georgia Bulldogs

Best Team: 2022 Georgia
Runner-up: 2021 Georgia

As one of only two SEC teams to win multiple national championships in this time-frame, a lot of debate could be had for this one. On one hand, the 2021 team boasted one of the best defenses in the sport's history.

That unit gave up only 10.2 points per game and featured 7 future first-round draft picks (so far). Although they were gashed by Bryce Young and Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, they got their revenge a month later, intercepting the QB twice en route to a national title.

The 2022 squad featured a less dominant but still great defense, but the offense was far more explosive than that of the 2021 team. QB Stetson Bennett took a big leap forward that year and stepped up when the team needed him the most, earning himself an all-expenses paid trip to NYC as a Heisman finalist.

The regular season was highlighted by dominating wins over top-15 ranked Oregon and temporarily top-ranked Tennessee.

The Dawgs then dropped 50 points on LSU to capture the SEC championship before their exhilarating New Year's win over Ohio State put them into the national title game for the second consecutive season.

Unlike the 2021 team, the 2022 team had no losses and punctuated the back-to-back titles with a thrashing of TCU that maybe should have been illegal. All in all, these two teams went a combined 29-1. That fact seems even more impressive when you say it like this:
Twenty Nine. And. One.

Kentucky Wildcats

Best Team: 2018 Kentucky
Runner-up: 2021 Kentucky

What a job sparky Mark Stoops has done at Kentucky. He is now the longest-tenured coach in the SEC and sits on one of the coldest coaching seats in the league. He has consistently put together competitive teams, but none better than the 10-win 2018 team.

Led by Benny Snell Jr. on offense and Josh Allen on defense, this team won in the Swamp for the first time in an incalculable number of years and worked its way to a 7-1 record.

Their Week 10 home game against Georgia was a de facto SEC East championship game, as either squad would have clinched the division with a win. Although the Wildcats lost that game and the next week's game against Tennessee, the team ended on a high note by defeating rival Louisville before a bowl win against Penn State.

Overall, this team went 10-3 and defeated 3 ranked teams.

The 2021 team started a strong 6-0 before three consecutive losses to Georgia, Mississippi State, and Tennessee derailed their season. As is tradition, the team rebounded nicely to finish the season strong with four consecutive wins, including a Citrus Bowl victory over a tough Iowa team.

LSU Tigers

Best Team: 2019 LSU
Runner-up: 2011 LSU

This one is probably the easiest pick of all the schools. LSU has been consistently good since 2010, but these two teams are certainly a step above the rest.

Earlier, as you all recall, I mentioned that the 2020 Alabama offense has an argument for best offense of all time. Their main competition would be the 2019 LSU offense.

Led by Joe Burrow and his ridiculous set of weapons that included Justin Jefferson, Ja'Marr Chase, Terrace Marshall, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the Bengal Tigers set the college football world on fire by averaging 48 points per game. Joe Burrow threw for 60 touchdowns, a number that honestly felt weird typing.

This team defeated seven top-10 teams, including one of the most impressive three-game stretches we have ever seen to end the season when they defeated #4 ranked UGA, #4 ranked Oklahoma, and #3 ranked Clemson by an average score of 47-21.

After becoming the first SEC team to go 15-0, the 2019 LSU Tigers are firmly in the conversation for the best SEC team of all time.

The runner-up for this section was also pretty straightforward. While 2019 LSU dominated with its offense, the 2011 Tigers dominated with their defense en route to a perfect 12-0 regular season, including a 9-6 OT victory on the road against Alabama in the "Game of the Century".

Unlucky for them, the BCS decided to schedule a rematch against Alabama in the national championship game, a move that many LSU and Oklahoma State fans described as "not very cool." Alabama won the rematch, putting this LSU team in the category of best team to not win a title.

Mississippi State Bulldogs

Best Team: 2014 MSU
Runner-up: 2017 MSU

Many people forget the the first ever CFP poll featured Mississippi State (henceforth referred to as "MSU" for typing efficiency purposes) at #1. MSU was vaulted to the top of the rankings after three consecutive convincing wins over top-10 teams in LSU, Texas A&M, and Auburn.

The Dak Attack (Dak Prescott) shone bright in Dan Mullen's offense, leading the team to a 9-0 record before their showdown with Alabama. A tough loss in that game set things back, but it was the Egg Bowl loss to Ole Miss that officially removed MSU from playoff contention.

Although the season ended on an additional sour note in the form of an Orange Bowl loss to triple-option Georgia Tech, MSU's five weeks atop the AP/CFP poll can never be taken away. This was MSU's third 10-win team in program history, and its first since 1999.

Deciding the second-best team is a little tricky. In contention were the 2015, 2017, and 2018 teams. I decided to reach out to some MSU fans for insight, but ultimately was unable to do so due to the fact that I don't know any.

Anyways, I went with the 2017 team because their dominating upset of LSU was more memorable than anything that happened in the other seasons (at least to me).

Missouri Tigers

Best Team: 2013 Missouri
Runner-up: 2023 Missouri

Missouri's second season in the SEC was one to remember. After five easy wins to start the season, back-to-back wins over Georgia and Florida showed that this team was for real.

A missed chip-shot FG the following week against South Carolina assisted in their first loss of the season, but the Tigers righted the ship to finish the regular season at 11-1, which included ranked wins against Ole Miss and Johnny Manziel-led Texas A&M.

The Tigers clinched the SEC East in their win against Texas A&M and went into the SEC championship game against Auburn ranked #5, giving them an outside chance at reaching the BCS title game. However, it was not meant to be as they fell in a high-scoring, back-and-forth affair. Missouri would then go on to defeat Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl, finishing the year with a 12-2 record.

Led by talented defensive lineman Michael Sam and Shane Ray on defense and James Franklin (not the Vandy/Penn State coach) on offense, the fighting M-I-Zs showed, at least briefly, that they were here to stay.

One decade later and armed with a new coach and new jerseys, the 2023 Missouri Tigers also won 10 games, including a New Year's bowl win against Ohio State. These most recent Tigers were led by offensive playmakers Cody Shrader, Brady "The Chef" Cook, and Luther Burden.

With the latter two of those returning for 2024, this list might look a little different come this time next year.

Ole Miss Rebels

Best Team: 2015 Ole Miss
Runner-up: 2014 Ole Miss

This is another section that could very easily be up for debate. If Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless cared about or knew anything about SEC football, they could make a full segment out of this.

This section came down to three teams: the 2014, 2015, and 2023 Ole Miss teams. Although the 2023 team had the most wins, they did not make the cut as their strength of schedule was lighter, and they did not fair as well against their two toughest opponents. The Rebels lost by 14 to Alabama and lost by whatever 52 minus 17 is to Georgia.

2014 Ole Miss vs 2015 Ole Miss is a tough call. Both teams defeated Alabama; at home in 2014 and on the road in 2015. Both of these wins vaulted the Rebels to #3 in the polls. Both teams also lost to an unranked Arkansas team.

While you could argue either way, I give the 2015 team the leg up since they were one miraculous play away from winning the SEC West. The famous (or infamous, depending on who you root for) 4th and 25 lateral conversion that Arkansas pulled out of their tusks prevented the Rebels from achieving that goal, as a stop there would have won the program their first SEC division title.

That was the only time I have ever genuinely felt bad for another SEC fanbase, a feat that will likely never happen again. Because of this empathy, 2015 Ole Miss gets the real prize in being named the best Ole Miss team since 2010.

South Carolina Gamecocks

Best Team: 2013 South Carolina
Runner-up: 2012 South Carolina

The younger generation of SEC fans may not realize how much of a powerhouse South Carolina (heretofore referred to as "USC" for typing efficiency purposes) was between 2011-2013. USC went 11-2 in three consecutive seasons, and more surprisingly did so without winning the SEC East or making it to a BCS bowl game.

This is yet another case where you could argue the top spot. These teams were led by Steve Spurrier, the press conference king, always garnished in visors that he thought were cool. The 2013 team gets my nod here as this was yet another team that was one 4th down stop away from winning their respective division.

After a Week 2 loss to Georgia, USC's fatal loss came on the road to unranked Tennessee, but the team rebounded nicely the following week in the aforementioned win against future division champ Missouri. They finished the season on a mini hot streak by defeating bitter rival and top-10 ranked Clemson to end the regular season before besting Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl (presented by Capital One.)

Both the 2012 and 2013 teams featured sneaky athletic Connor Shaw behind center, with Jadeveon Clowney tormenting mere mortals from the defensive side of the ball. They may not get the credit they deserve, but USC was as good as any program from 2011-2013.

Tennessee Volunteers

Best Team: 2022 Tennessee
Runner-up: 2016 Tennessee

Picking the best Tennessee team from this era is quite simple. I am looking at a table that lists the regular season win totals for each season, and 2022 is the only 10 I see.

Hendon Hooker operated Josh Heupel's fast-paced offense to perfection, leading the Volunteers to an 8-0 record to start the season. That included a dominating road win in Death Valley against SEC West champion LSU, and a historic, last-second win against Alabama in likely the best environment of the season. Rumor has it that the field goal post is still in the river.

These wins pushed Tennessee to debut at #1 in the CFP poll before their top-3 showdown against defending champion UGA in Athens. Tennessee's offense could not overcome the constant pressure and crowd noise as the Vols suffered their first loss of the season.

Tennessee was very much in playoff contention until a shocking blowout loss to South Carolina ended those hopes, but they finished strong with an Orange Bowl win against Clemson.

This offense led the nation by averaging 46 points per game, and as forgettable as the UGA and USC games may have been for them, Vols fans will never forget that Alabama game.

The competition for runner-up came down to the 2015 and 2016 teams as each of them went 9-4. The 2016 team gets the nod here because they were crowned as the first ever Champions of Life! This self-proclaimed and super important title should not go unmentioned, so it won't.

Texas A&M Aggies

Best Team: 2012 Texas A&M
Runner-up: 2020 Texas A&M

The 2012 season was both a great start and a terrible start for the Aggies in the SEC. Since their season opener against Louisiana Tech was rescheduled due to weather, Texas A&M's first game of the year came in Week 2 against Florida.

Little-known and scrappy QB Johnny Manziel made his debut that day, and I distinctly remember watching that game and thinking "I don't like this guy for some reason, but he's really fast." Little did I know that that would be an accurate description for the next two seasons.

Impressive road wins against Mississippi State and Auburn following their second loss to LSU left the Aggies with a 7-2 record before their game against Nick Saban and his undefeated, #1 ranked Alabama team.

Manziel's coming out party in that upset win was one of the most memorable games of the decade as the echoes of Verne Lundquist's several "OH MY GRACIOUS!" calls still ring throughout Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The Aggies ended the season on a six game win streak after defeating recently former BIG12 foe Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, which pushed A&M to #5 in the final AP poll.

The 2020 Texas A&M football team just missed the 4-team playoff after finishing the regular season ranked #5. The loss to historically great Alabama was their lone blemish on the season that ended in a New Year's 6 bowl win against UNC and former Texas head coach Mack Brown.

Vanderbilt Commodores

Best Team: 2012 Vanderbilt
Runner-up: 2013 Vanderbilt

Here we have one last school in which the answer could be hotly debated. Both the 2012 and 2013 Commodores went 9-4 and won a bowl game. The 2012 team gets the nod since they ended the season on a 7-game win streak, capped by the Music City Bowl win against NC State.

Three of Vanderbilt's four losses in 2012 came against top-10 ranked teams in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The Commodores started their 7-game win streak following the loss to Florida by defeating Auburn at home. They won three more conference games against the likes of Kentucky, Ole Miss, and in-state rival Tennessee.

It should be noted that Vanderbilt beat Tennessee in both 2012 and 2013, a fact that surely brings music city to Vandy fans' ears. It doesn't take a degree from Vanderbilt to know that Vanderbilt's 41-18 victory of Tennessee was a blowout.

These consecutive 9-win seasons were some of the best in the academically superior Vanderbilt's program history, and they have bought head coach James Franklin a coaching contract for life (at Penn State).