Study: Common factors in the last 7 SEC champions

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday June 19, 2017

How do you win the SEC? To get more than a bunch of Alabama, here’s what the last seven league champs have done against SEC opponents:

- The road goes through Tuscaloosa, clearly. Alabama has won four of the last five SEC titles and five since 2009. The other teams narrowly beat Alabama. 2010 Auburn needed a big fourth quarter comeback, 2011 LSU won in overtime, and 2013 Auburn won on the Kick-Six.

- 2016 Alabama was the first team undefeated in SEC play since 2011. One league loss doesn’t doom you.

- Six of the last seven SEC champs finished in the top 3 in scoring in league play (2014 Alabama was No. 4). It’s a league known for defense, but you have to score, too.

- All seven teams finished in the top 3 in plays of 30-plus yards in SEC play. Alabama nearly doubled its plays of 30-plus yards, from 17 in nine SEC games in 2015 to 33 in 2016. It led the league both times.

How many more big plays did the SEC have last year? Alabama’s 17 plays of 30-plus yards in 2015 led the league. In 2016, that would have ranked 10th.

- Every SEC champ from 2010-14 was in the top two in red zone TD%, but Alabama was in the bottom half of the league the last two years.

- As for that defense, all but the two Auburn teams finished in the top 3 in scoring defense. (The Tigers were No. 7 in 2013 and No. 8 in 2010.)

- Auburn’s seasons often come down to one-possession games. In 2010 and 2013, they went a combined 9-0 in one-possession SEC games. In the other five years, the champions won a combined eight one-possession SEC games

- Here were each team’s one-possession SEC games:

2016 Alabama
48-43 win at Ole Miss (overcame 24-3 deficit)

2015 Alabama
43-37 loss vs. Ole Miss
19-14 win vs. Tennessee

2014 Alabama
23-17 loss at Ole Miss
14-13 win vs. Arkansas
20-13 (OT) win at LSU
25-20 win vs. Mississippi State

2013 Auburn
24-20 win vs. Mississippi State
45-41 win at Texas A&M
43-38 win vs. Georgia
34-28 win vs. Alabama

2012 Alabama
21-17 win at LSU
29-24 loss vs. Texas A&M
32-28 win vs. Georgia (SEC title game)

2011 LSU
9-6 (OT) at Alabama

2010 Auburn
17-14 at Mississippi State
35-27 vs. South Carolina
37-34 at Kentucky
24-17 vs. LSU
28-27 at Alabama

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Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to