Looking back, it was another glorious year for the SEC. Another National Championship was won, with Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide taking home the bacon.

The Crimson Tide beat LSU 21-0 in a re-match in which did both of the things they went out to do: Dominate AND win. In the first game against the Tigers in front over 92,000 in Tuscaloosa, they’d done a lot of dominating, but not a lot of winning.

The sad thing is is that both games didn’t make the Top Five games of the 2011 season. Here are your top 10 involving SEC teams – and yes, we’ve involved some non-conference ones too. And sorry Texas A&M and Missouri fans, your teams aren’t included (otherwise A&M would have made about half a dozen of them due to their heartbreaking knack of not being able to hold onto a lead).

1. South Carolina 45, Georgia 42

This game had everything. Played in front of a sell-out crowd, this SEC East grudge match saw South Carolina score with misdirection, big guy touchdowns (Alshon Jeffrey) and even bigger guy touchdowns (Melvin Ingram). There were coming out parties for Georgia‘s Isaiah Crowell and South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, but this was also yet another one for the SEC. After all, this was how you do games in SEC Country.

2. Auburn 42, Utah St 38

For Auburn, it was a chance to show they’d moved on (a bit) after Cam Newton. For Utah State, it was a chance to prove that they weren’t just at Jordan-Hare to make up numbers. Well, they weren’t. In fact, the Aggies took a 21-7 lead and then a 38-28 one with just over three minutes to go, and everyone was taking a breath. But when Auburn closed the gap to 38-35 and then grabbed an onside kick, we were ready for one of the greatest finishes in football. And in Cam style, Auburn one.

3. Georgia 33, Vanderbilt 28

The Commodores gave Georgia all they could handle on a Saturday night in Nashville. With the score 33-28 early-on in the fourth quarter and both sides merrily swapped field position. Georgia then managed to choke a special teams play to give Vanderbilt a shot at the end-zone with seven seconds left. Vanderbilt couldn’t score the touchdown that would have won them the game, but they fought the ‘Dawgs tooth and nail in a game you simply couldn’t take your eyes off – or afterwards, when Todd Grantham and James Franklin went at it!

4. Arkansas 31, Vanderbilt 28

Another Saturday, another heart-breaking loss for James Franklin & Co. This time, it was their own doing, as they missed a 27-yard field goal to tie the game. They’d blown a 21-7 lead earlier. Arkansas’ inane knack of getting through games (there are more of their games on this list) earned them the moniker the ‘Cardiac Hogs’. If only Bobby Petrino had controlled his own ticker during the season, too…

5. Auburn 41, Mississippi State 34

Crazy games seem to have generally involved team with the letter ‘A’ this year in the SEC, and Auburn’s 41-34 upset of the No.16 Cowbell-ringers was just one of them. But before all that, the game started crazily enough when Auburn’s mascot ‘Spirit’ flew into a luxury box window. But the eagle survived, and so did Auburn, despite doing their best to blow a 41-27 fourth-quarter lead. The hero? Backup safety Ryan Smith, who stopped Chris Relf going in for the score on the goal-line.

6. LSU 9, Alabama 6

For atmosphere alone, the ‘Game Of The Century’ deserves to be in the Top 10. Tuscaloosa was as noisy as they come that Saturday night for the battle between the No.1 and No.2 teams in the Nation. Both sides – try as they might – couldn’t find a way past each other (LSU because it didn’t have a great quarterback and managed to tie down Trent Richardson, Alabama because it didn’t have a great kicker), until LSU managed to find the cajones to finally kick one through the uprights in overtime to seal a 9-6 victory. It was a forgettable game, but an unforgettable atmosphere. And to show that passion, here’s a nice video of a fan crying. That’s how much losing to your most hated rival means to you! And we can bet he was happier in January in New Orleans, too!

7. Arkansas 42, Texas A&M 38

If Texas A&M‘s defence is the same as it was in 2011, then the SEC West schools are going to make hay against the Aggies, they really are. We’ve forgotten how many times A&M went in with a half-time lead and came out and lost it. And this game in JerryWorld against Arkansas was no exception. At half-time, Razorbacks were headed for the exits after the Aggies took a 35-17 lead, but for reasons only known to them, the defense completely imploded to let Arkansas tie it at 35-35. The Aggies then picked themselves up and made it 38-35, before Broderick Green ran the ball in for three yards and Tyler Wilson threw a 2-point conversion. After that game, we all needed some sleep.

8. Tennessee 27, Vanderbilt 21

These two Tennesseerivals haven’t had a lot of cheer about in recent years, but when they get together, it always seems to serve up a classic. Anyway, locked into overtime, Vandy QB Jordan Rodgers threw a pass that fell into the arms of a grateful Eric Gordon, who returned the ball 90 yards to the House. If you don’t think it meant a lot to the Tennessee crowd, check out the reactions. They’ve needed something to smile about.

9. LSU 40, Oregon 27

There are some games which we talk about as being ‘Coming Out Parties’. This one was one – for LSU safety Tyrann Mathieu. Oregon was playing LSU very close indeed in a match-up that was as good as advertised, until Tyrann Mathieu stripped the ball away from a punter and returned it for a touchdown. After this game, everybody started talking about how special this kid was. After the West Virginia and Kentucky games, the Heisman noise simply got louder and louder.

10. South Carolina 24, Navy 21

Some games are going to be predestined as great. Some games become great. Some games are under-the-radar and are simply fantastic from start to finish. This game was one of them. With both sides giving up leads, you couldn’t help but wonder what was going to win – the triple-option, no fear approach or the one with the great running back. In the end, Marcus Lattimore’s 246 yards (and three touchdowns) were the difference, but the Midshipmen won a lot of plaudits. Steve Spurrier won’t be wanting to play these guys in a hurry.

TOP FIVE BEST ATMOSPHERES OF 2011

1.  LSU at Alabama: If the game had matched the atmosphere, the ‘Game Of The Century’ would have been just that.

2 Alabama at Florida: The explosion of noise when Florida went 7-0 on the second offensive play of the game was simply incredible. The TV coverage doesn’t do the noise justice.

3. LSU at West Virginia: College Gameday and Partying for about a week before the Tigers came to town. Sounds like, er, Baton Rouge-en-Morgantown. What a game (until LSU outwrestled control from the Mountaineers). And more importantly, what a party.

4. Florida vs Georgia: Because The Cocktail Party always should be on your Top 5. Whatever The Year.

5. South Carolina at Georgia: We were at this game, and the atmosphere throughout was incredible. So was our hangover the day afterwards.

TOP FIVE PLAYERS OF 2011

1. Trent Richardson (Alabama): He rolled through who he wanted. Unless of course, he was quadruple-teamed (see LSU (Game 1) for details).

2. Tyrann Mathieu (LSU): So brilliant defensively and on special teams all you can wonder is if the ‘Honey Badger’ will actually get thrown anywhere near to in 2012. We think not. But, someone said to us: “Was Deion Sanders at Florida State?” Ah – so that’s why Mathieu got himself a ‘King’ tattoo in the off-season.

3. Marcus Lattimore (South Carolina): Brought the Gamecocks on his shoulders. It was when he got injured the Gamecocks hurt, and now he’s fit and healthy in 2012, the Gamecocks are a legit National Championship Contender.

4. Alabama’s defense: Yes, we know it’s a cheat because we really should pick one standout, but this unit was simply frightening all season long. Name us one school that enjoyed playing them this year.

5. Tyler Wilson (Arkansas): This was a close-run thing with Aaron Murray of Georgia, Wilson’s Razorbacks teammate Knile Davis, and South Carolina Jadeveon Clowney, but Wilson’s 3,638 yards and 24 touchdowns just make us think that this guy is a legitimate 2012 Heisman Contender – whatever Matt Barkley may say.

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