On Saturday, the Alabama football team will make its 10th trip to Atlanta to play in an SEC Championship Game. That’s a remarkable stretch of success, especially considering that Alabama also appeared in the two games played in Birmingham — the first, an historic contest for many reasons that directly affected the future of college football and the second, far less dramatic but of scholarly interest because it heralded the dominance of Florida (and the Steve Spurrier style of offense) that lasted for the next decade.
Any time a series of events has 10 items, America (and especially the journalists of our nation) likes to see a list. A top 10 list is printing your own money, metaphorically speaking. Make a list of the best French toast restaurants in metro Tuscaloosa and you can cause long lines for French toast on the following Sunday and a possible fist fight over the question of whether to serve maple syrup or Golden Eagle on the side. But to stop the digression, here is my personal top 10 list of Alabama’s SEC Championship Games in the Crimson Tide’s Dome Sweet Dome(s) away from home.
1. Alabama 32, Florida 13 (2009)
This is the moment that what is now called “the Alabama Dynasty” began. The Crimson Tide pushed Florida of the college football throne, which it has not yet relinquished. Perhaps Tim Tebow’s tears were not only for what had happened that day but because he, being Tim Tebow, could see what was yet to come.
2. Alabama 32, Georgia 28 (2011)
An absolute classic game which was, as it turned out, the de facto national championship (the Bulldogs would have drubbed Notre Dame) had they gained those last five yards. Also, why does Alabama score exactly 32 points in these games? Perhaps I should change my Saturday pick.
3. Florida 24, Alabama 23 (1994)
Because it isn’t always a question of Alabama winning. This game was well-played and dramatic and Gene Stallings will still get mad if you ask him why he didn’t try a two-point conversion.
4. Alabama 34, Florida 7 (1999)
Not the best game of the 10, by far. Florida seems disinterested after losing to FSU the week before and Alabama was eager to show its regular-season win was no fluke. The SEC title saved Mike Dubose’s job (he was Dead Man Walking when this talented team lost to Louisiana Tech) and that had far-reaching ramifications in 2000 and beyond.
5. Florida 45, Alabama 30 (1996)
This was like watching dachshunds chase jack rabbits. Florida receivers seemed to be everywhere. But watching the vintage Gators had a certain entertainment value.
6. Florida 31, Alabama 20 (2008)
Too much Tebow in this one but it was competitive until the fourth quarter. In Nick Saban’s second year, you could sense what was coming.
7. Alabama 29, Florida 15 (2015)
Nick Saban’s most recent SEC title wins in Atlanta haven’t exactly been compelling although this one did feature some good defense.
8. Alabama 42, Missouri 13 (2014)
The most entertaining thing about this game was Lane Kiffin predicting every touchdown, arms up, as soon as the ball was snapped.
9. Alabama 54, Florida 13 (2016)
They demolished the Georgia Dome after this game, which was probably for the best.
10. TBD (2018)
This might be another classic. We will know by Saturday night.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.