SEC Football: Moments of 2011 Season We Hope to See Again in 2012

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterAugust 22, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 05:  Mike the Tiger, LSU Tigers mascot, against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It's almost game week, and that means all of those special moments from the 2011 season may soon be replaced with new memories from the 2012 season.

Will there be an early-season surprise? Will there be another "game of the century?" What team is on early-season upset alert?

SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee takes a look at the moments he hopes to see replicated in this story.


The Game of the Century

Whether you were a fan of last season's 9-6 defensive slugfest or not, the LSU at Alabama "Game of the Century" was fun for one specific reason—it was a huge game played in November.

That's a good thing, even if you hated the field-goal fest.

It doesn't matter if it involves two SEC teams, one SEC team or zero SEC teams, if we have a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in November, we all win as college football fans.

Of course, asking for a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup is probably asking too much, but a game of that caliber being played late in the season spikes interest in college football, which is good for all of us.


The Early-Season Scare

It's never fun when it happens to your team, but the early-season scare from a team out of nowhere is a lot of fun for the fan watching at home—and it makes a typically boring weekend interesting.

Last season, defending national champion Auburn was taken to the brink, scoring two touchdowns and converting the best onside kick of the season to squeak out a win over Utah State on the Plains.

Two seasons ago, Ole Miss was upset at home in double overtime by Jacksonville State, and LSU survived a furious late-game comeback from suspension-riddled UNC to top the Tar Heels 30-24 at the Georgia Dome.


The Melvin Ingram Moment

Former South Carolina defensive end Melvin Ingram starred for the Gamecocks last season, tying the single-season school record for sacks with 10. But it wasn't his sacks that got him on the map in 2011—it was his fake punt return for touchdown in Week 2 vs. Georgia that made everyone take notice.

Ingram is a freak of an athlete, and he proved it late in the second quarter when he took the snap, ran left and then sprinted past the entire Georgia defense for the 68-yard touchdown run.

Did I mention that he was listed at 6'2", 276 pounds last season?

It wasn't a "fat-guy touchdown," like my friend and colleague Adam Kramer is so fond of. But it was an athletic feat that we want to see repeated in 2012.


The Video-Game Play

There always seems to be one or two plays each season that just don't seem possible in real life and are more believable if they take place in a video game.

Last season, the SEC was lucky have two of those plays—Alabama running back Trent Richardson's juke at Ole Miss and Arkansas' punt return for a touchdown vs. Tennessee.

Both of those players are gone, but there are still plenty of studs in the SEC to provide us with those moments.

Early favorites for making this happen are South Carolina wide receiver Ace Sanders, Arkansas running back Knile Davis and Florida wide receiver Andre Debose.


Impact Freshmen

Last year, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and former Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell burst onto the scene, both earning Freshman of the Year honors from various organizations.

It's nice to see youngsters live up to the hype right away.

Granted, Crowell's career ended a bit prematurely, but he was a big reason why Georgia was 60 minutes away from winning the SEC last season. 

Who will make an impact in 2012?

Keep tabs on South Carolina wide receiver Shaq Roland, Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon and Georgia running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.