What will the Tigers be celebrating next?
It’s been quite the 2013 college football season in the SEC.
Surprisingly, Alabama was left out in the cold for the conference title game. Instead, the two teams participating in the game—Missouri and Auburn—combined for just two SEC wins in 2013.
It’s been that kind of year for the SEC this season.
Join B/R as we look at the highlight of the 2013 season for all 14 teams in the conference.
Rest easy, Alabama fans. Saban is here to stay.
2013 W-L: 11-1
Highlight of Season: Nick Saban Signing an Extension
Following the emergence of reports suggesting that Nick Saban had interest in coaching at Texas, Crimson Tide fans spent months wondering whether their beloved head coach would really depart Tuscaloosa in favor of a move to Austin.
For most, the promise of a third straight BCS title seemed to be enough to dissuade Saban from leaving. But then, Alabama lost a heartbreaker—and the SEC West title—to Auburn in the season finale.
It didn’t get any better when rumors started flying about the Longhorns coaching position opening up.
Fortunately, Tide fans were treated to the announcement that Saban had signed an extension with Alabama, via ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit. Ironically, the news came just a day before Mack Brown announced that he was stepping down at Texas following the conclusion of the season, via The Associated Press’ Jim Vertuno (h/t Yahoo! Sports).
In a season doomed by a mere second, Tide fans can rest easy knowing Saban will be back to avenge that loss in 2014.
Collins (center) gave the Razorbacks reason for hope early on.
2013 W-L: 3-9
Highlight of Season: The First Three Weeks of the Season
Things began wonderfully for the Razorbacks in 2013.
The team was off to its third 3-0 start in the last four seasons. True freshman running back Alex Collins was proving to be the real deal. First-year head coach Bret Bielema was giving the Arkansas faithful a reason to be optimistic.
Then the season began to unravel one by one.
First, the Razorbacks allowed Rutgers to rally for 14 points in the final 10 minutes to ruin their perfect season. Then Collins began to struggle, failing to top the century mark in each of the team’s final seven games—the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native had accomplished the feat in four of Arkansas’ first five games.
To make things worse, the team dropped nine in a row to end the season.
Instead of a year of promise, the Razorbacks were left to settle for their fewest wins since 1992.
But hey, at least the team has those first three weeks to look back on.
2013 W-L: 12-1
Highlight of Season: Everything from October onward
Nobody gave the Tigers a chance in 2013.
To the naysayers’ credit, the team had only won three games last season and gone winless in SEC play. Not to mention, Auburn was breaking in a new coach and returned most of the players from a year ago.
Even after a 3-0 start, not too many were optimistic that the Tigers could keep it up. A loss to LSU, 35-21, in Week 4 was supposed to be the reality check we all saw coming.
Except for the fact that Auburn hasn’t lost since.
Following that loss, the team has put together victories over five Top 25 opponents. That’s a list that includes No. 7 Texas A&M, No. 5 Missouri and No. 1 Alabama.
But even more shocking is the manner in which the Tigers have won some of these games.
In a 43-38 win over No. 25 Georgia on Nov. 16, the team relied on a 73-yard, Hail-Mary touchdown pass from quarterback Nick Marshall on 4th-and-18 with 25 seconds left to win it. Surprisingly, Auburn topped that by returning a missed field goal 106 yards for a score as time expired to stun the Tide the following week.
The next week, the Tigers used a whopping 545 rushing yards to toss aside Missouri, 59-42, in the SEC title game.
With a date with Florida State in the BCS title game on Jan. 6, Auburn’s biggest highlight may still be yet to come.
Gators fans have watched their team crash and burn in 2013.
2013 W-L: 4-8
Highlight of Season: The end of the season
To put it bluntly, nothing excited Gators fans more in 2013 than the completion of the final regular-season game.
That meant no more losing, no more heartbreak and no more pain. More specifically, it also meant no more injuries.
This season, Florida had a whopping 21 scholarship players who missed a game due to injury. Furthermore, 10 of those players suffered season-ending injuries, including starting quarterback Jeff Driskel.
But even that doesn’t make losing to FCS foe Georgia Southern acceptable. Especially since the Eagles couldn’t even manage to complete a single pass.
To make matters worse, the Gators lost each of their final seven games.
At 4-8, the team has recorded its fewest wins since 1979 and will not play a bowl game for the first time since 1990.
But hey, there’s always next year, Florida fans.
2013 W-L: 8-4
Highlight of Season: Week 5 win over LSU
The Bulldogs entered the season with national championship aspirations.
Those hopes and dreams were quickly put on life support when Clemson topped Georgia, 38-35, in the season-opener. Not to mention, two of the team’s next three games were against Top 10 opposition.
But after tossing aside South Carolina, 41-30, in Week 2, the Bulldogs followed that up with a thrilling 44-41 victory over LSU in Week 5.
Quarterback Aaron Murray had a game to remember, throwing for 298 yards and four touchdowns on 20-of-34 passing, while rushing for another score. Georgia put up 494 yards of total offense and scored the winning touchdown with 1:47 remaining in the game.
The win quickly moved the Bulldogs back into the Top 10 at No. 6 and recharged the squad’s BCS title hopes.
Unfortunately, it was only downhill from there.
Stoops has put together a very nice recruiting class in 2014.
2013 W-L: 2-10
Highlight of Season: The 2014 Recruiting Class
Let it be said upfront, there was absolutely nothing to be optimistic about the Wildcats play on the field in 2013. The team was 2-10 for the second consecutive year and lost 10 of its final 11 games.
However, Kentucky will have to be feeling good about its Class of 2014 recruiting class.
Thus far, head coach Mark Stoops’ first class has received 25 commitments and ranks No. 27 among the nation according to 247Sports. It’s a class that is highlighted by four 4-star prospects, including quarterback Drew Barker.
Things might not be too great in Lexington right now, but the future certainly looks bright.
The Tigers defense left the Aggies offense in misery.
2013 W-L: 9-3
Highlight of Season: Shutting down Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M
Although the big story was the improvement of the Tigers offense under first-year offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, the team’s defense was the biggest disappointment through 10 games.
To the unit’s credit, the defense had to deal with losing seven starters to the NFL. However, LSU’s defense had allowed an average of 36.3 points over the team’s three losses.
Now, the defense was expected to tame 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and the Aggies high-powered offense?
Surprisingly, that’s exactly what the Tigers did in a dominating 34-10 win. Manziel was held to just 224 yards through the air, a touchdown and two interceptions on 16-of-41 passing, while only rushing for 54 yards on 12 carries.
It was easily the sophomore’s worst game of the season and arguably of his career.
More so, it gave LSU hope that the defense could turn the corner in 2014.
Wallace (left) had quite the game against the Tigers.
2013 W-L: 7-5
Highlight of Season: Upset of LSU
It’s been somewhat of an up-and-down season for the Rebels.
After winning its first three games, the team quickly dropped its next three. With the No. 6 Tigers coming into town, the improvement head coach Hugh Freeze was supposed to display in his second year at the helm was in jeopardy.
But then Ole Miss pulled out a gutsy 27-24 victory.
The team put up a whopping 525 yards, and quarterback Bo Wallace was near perfect through the air, throwing for 346 yards on 30-of-39 passing. The Rebels found the end zone three times on the ground and successfully recharged their season, as the team followed up the win with three more.
Although the season ended with two disappointing losses, Ole Miss will look back at the win over LSU with pride.
The Bulldogs ended their season on a high note.
2013 W-L: 6-6
Highlight of Season: Recording an improbable Egg Bowl victory
A late three-game losing streak had the Bulldogs’ hopes for a bowl game all but gone. The team was 4-6 and had a road game against Arkansas and hosted in-state rival Ole Miss in the season finale.
Given Mississippi State’s recent play, winning both games seemed to be a tall task.
However, the team rallied to beat the Razorbacks in overtime, 24-17, keeping its bowl hopes alive. Then the Bulldogs surprised the Rebels, topping them 17-10 in overtime as well.
The win not only gave the team its fourth Egg Bowl victory in five seasons, but it also landed Mississippi State with a berth into a bowl game for the fourth straight year.
Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
Pinkel should be commended for the coaching job he's done in 2013.
2013 W-L: 11-2
Highlight of Season: Winning the SEC East
Just a year ago, the Tigers were 5-7 and head coach Gary Pinkel was firmly on the hot seat. There was not much hope that things would turn around anytime soon.
Fast-forward 12 months, the team is 11-2 and SEC East champions in just its second season in the conference. Furthermore, Missouri was just a win away from playing in the BCS title game.
From the opening kickoff, the Tigers have been dominating opponents. The team has averaged 39.0 points while limiting opponents to just 22.5 points per game.
Even when starting quarterback James Franklin went down, backup Maty Mauk came in and played proficiently.
Now, instead of wondering about his job status, Pinkel will be focused on leading Missouri to back-to-back division titles.
Oh, how much can change in just a year.
Shaw (center) was the hero for South Carolina.
2013 W-L: 10-2
Highlight of Season: Fourth-quarter rally against Missouri
After an early season loss to Georgia, the Gamecocks quickly won their next five games. Thus, keeping both the team’s BCS title and SEC title hopes alive.
However, all those plans came crashing down against Tennessee in a surprising 23-21 loss in Knoxville on Oct. 19. And with a trip to face No. 5 Missouri next—and without starting quarterback Connor Shaw—South Carolina’s season was in danger of spiraling out of control.
Down 17-0 entering the fourth, Shaw—who entered the game in the third quarter—put in a performance that will go down in Gamecocks lore.
The senior tossed two touchdowns in the final quarter, leading the team to 17 points and forcing overtime. He also had another touchdown toss in the extra session before a missed field goal by the Tigers did them in.
All in all, the win restored hope for South Carolina and kept their SEC title hopes alive.
Unfortunately, that would be the only regular-season loss for Missouri.
The Gamecocks victory gave fans hope that Jones was the right man for the job.
2013 W-L: 5-7
Highlight of Season: Upset of South Carolina
There wasn’t much for Vols fans to celebrate about in 2013. The team allowed more points (29.0) than it scored (23.8) and only managed to win two SEC games.
However, one of those wins just so happened to be against the No. 11-ranked Gamecocks.
In a surprisingly hard-fought contest, Tennessee outlasted South Carolina, 23-21. The team shutout the Gamecocks in the fourth quarter and kicked a 19-yard field goal as time expired to earn the victory.
It was the first signature victory of first-year head coach Butch Jones’ tenure in Knoxville.
It also gave fans hope that more was to come in 2014.
Sumlin will be at College Station for quite some time.
2013 W-L: 8-4
Highlight of Season: Kevin Sumlin signing an extension
The 2013 season didn’t end the way the Aggies had envisioned it too.
This was a team that believed to be fighting for a national championship. This was a team that was supposed to give Alabama a real run for the SEC West title this season.
Instead, Texas A&M suffered four losses and finished 0-4 against Top 25 opponents this season.
Add in the fact that quarterback Johnny Manziel is most likely heading to the NFL, and it’s hard to imagine that Aggies fans have any reason to be optimistic.
Fortunately, Texas A&M announced that the team was extending Kevin Sumlin’s tenure at the school to 2019, via CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman.
In just two seasons, the 49-year-old has made a big impact.
We can only imagine what he can accomplish in the future.
The Commodores had reason to celebrate their upset of Georgia.
2013 W-L: 8-4
Highlight of Season: Upset of Georgia
After six games, things looked bleak for the Commodores.
The team was 3-3 and had upcoming games against Georgia, Texas A&M and Florida over the next three weeks. It was very likely that the team would lose two, if not all three of those games.
Instead, Vanderbilt got the stretch off to a positive start by topping the Bulldogs, 31-27.
The Commodores rallied for 17 points in the fourth quarter and held the Georgia quarterback without a touchdown. In fact, Vanderbilt actually outgained the Bulldogs 337-221.
It was a win that announced to the conference that the Commodores are a viable threat. It also helped boost the team to win five of its final six games.
All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of CFBstats.com.