Photo courtesy of Georgia athletics
The National Championship on Jan. 12 officially wrapped up the decade of the 2010s in college football.
The decade saw the sport undergo numerous conference changes and switch from the BCS formula to the College Football Playoff. There were schools who had dominating runs and others who left much to be desired.
During the decade, teams from the SEC claimed five national championships. However, none of those were won by teams in the East division.
Still, there were some great seasons along the way. Here’s a look back on the best year of the decade for each SEC East team:
Record: 11-2, beat Virginia in Orange Bowl, 36-28
Final Ranking: No. 6 AP; No. 7 Coaches
Key Players: Kyle Pitts, TE; Jonathan Greenard, DE; CJ Henderson, CB
Overview: After going through three coaches in eight years, Florida closed the decade with back-to-back top-10 finishes and New Year’s Six bowl wins. In 2019, the Gators collected their most wins since 2012 and their highest final ranking since 2009. Florida’s only two losses were to teams who participated in the SEC Championship.
Record: 13-2, SEC champions, lost to Alabama in National Championship in overtime, 26-23
Final Ranking: No. 2 AP; No. 2 Coaches
Key Players: Nick Chubb, RB; Isaiah Wynn, T; Roquan Smith, LB
Overview: In four seasons under Kirby Smart, Georgia has averaged 11 wins per season. The best year came in 2017 when the Bulldogs narrowly missed winning their first national championship since 1980. After blasting Auburn in the SEC Championship, Georgia rallied from 17 points down to beat Oklahoma in double-overtime in the Rose Bowl. Unfortunately for Georgia, it was unable to hold a 13-point second-half lead against Alabama for the national title. After kicking a field goal in overtime, Alabama won the game on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Tua Tagovailoa to DeVonta Smith. Still, the No. 2 final ranking was its highest since 2007. The SEC title was its first since 2005. The 13 wins tied a school record.
Record: 10-3, beat Penn State in Citrus Bowl, 27-24
Final Ranking: No. 12 AP; No. 11 Coaches
Key Players: Benny Snell Jr., RB; Bunchy Stallings, G; Josh Allen, LB
Overview: In 2018 under Mark Stoops, Kentucky notched its first 10-win season and highest final ranking since 1977. In the process, the Wildcats beat three ranked teams and knocked off rival Louisville for just the second time in eight meetings.
Record: 12-2, beat Oklahoma State in Cotton Bowl, 41-31
Final Ranking: No. 5 AP; No. 5 Coaches
Key Players: Dorial Green-Beckham, WR; Michael Sam, DE; E.J. Gaines, CB
Overview: The most success that Missouri had as a program during the 2010s was its early years as a member of the SEC. The Tigers reached the SEC Championship in consecutive years in 2013 and 2014, but were unable to win the conference. In 2013, Missouri tied a school record with 12 wins and finished in the top 5 for the first time since 2007.
South Carolina (2013)
Record: 11-2, beat Wisconsin in Capital One Bowl, 34-24
Final Ranking: No. 4 AP; No. 4 Coaches
Key Players: Mike Davis, RB; Jadeveon Clowney, DE; Kelcy Quarles, DT
Overview: South Carolina won its only SEC East division title in 2010, but proceeded to finish in the top 10 in each of the next three seasons under head coach Steve Spurrier. The Gamecocks finished 11-2 over each of those seasons, but notched their only top-5 ranking ever in 2013. South Carolina closed the year by winning its six games, including three over ranked teams. The Gamecocks also handed American Athletic Conference champion UCF its only loss that year.
Record: 9-4, beat Northwestern in Outback Bowl, 45-6
Final Ranking: No. 22 AP; No. 23 Coaches
Key Players: Jalen Hurd, RB; Derek Barnett, DE; Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB
Overview: Tennessee went 63-62 during the decade of the 2010s. The Volunteers managed just three winning seasons. Two of those were 9-4 campaigns in back-to-back years under Butch Jones. The second of those — 2015 — gets the nod. That was the only season of the decade where Tennessee finished with a winning SEC record. All four of Tennessee’s losses were decided by one score.
Record: 9-4, beat NC State in Music City Bowl, 38-24
Final Ranking: No. 23 AP; No. 20 Coaches
Overview: During the 2010s, Vanderbilt had two winning seasons. They came in back-to-back years under head coach James Franklin. The 2012 campaign gets the nod as the Commodores finished ranked for the first time since 1948. Going 5-3 in conference also marks Vanderbilt’s only season with a winning SEC record since 1982. After a 2-4 start, Vanderbilt closed the year on a 7-game winning streak.