Inspired by this little exchange in the 2/15 edition of Ask CFN…
I’m already missing football season and looking back, was there a better game all year than LSU-Florida? What was your top game of the season? – shelt
A: How about most of the SEC season overall? This was the most fun, wild season I can ever remember, and picking a top game is tough. I have to go with the Kentucky 43-37, three overtime win over LSU, with the LSU 30-24 win over Auburn a close second. Again, though, this was hard. Take your pick of about 25 great games this year and you probably have the best one.
… I thought I’d take a shot at listing what I think were the ten best SEC games played last year.
My criteria are pretty simple. First of all, I tried to come to this as a fan of the game, as opposed to a fan of Georgia, or any particular team, for that matter. So, while a Vandy fan might see the South Carolina game as a great one, or a Georgia fan might point to the Blackout game as the best game of the year, I’m looking at games that kept my interest down to the very end, regardless of who the participants were.
Second, it’s not enough that a game was close. It needed to be closely contested, hard fought. Games involving coaches who saw their teams jump out to good leads and then tried to sit on them, only to see their strategies backfire, don’t make the list. (Bobby Johnson, I’m talking to you, buddy.)
Third, games that were tight and low scoring not so much because of defensive excellence but because of offensive ineptitude didn’t qualify. Call it the Mississippi State rule, if you like. Bad defense may not be pretty, but it doesn’t lead to boring football. Bad offense does.
Even after filtering the season through that, I still wound up with more than ten games, so from there I had to do some subjective weeding out. No doubt some of my omissions will be questioned – let me hear about it in the comments.
I do want to mention three games that didn’t make my final list, but were notable in certain aspects:
- Georgia 42, Florida 30. The best first half of football I saw all year. Energy, intensity, lead changes and, of course, The Celebration.
- Arkansas 48, South Carolina 36. Featuring the best individual performance of the season from the quasi-human McFadden, this game stayed close until the middle of the fourth quarter. If the Gamecocks had a little more in the tank at the end, this game would have made the list.
- Mississippi State 17, Mississippi 14. MSU’s offense sucking too much for most of the game and Orgeron’s inability to coach a complete game combined to keep this one out of the top ten, but I’m not sure I saw a more emotional finish this season. If you didn’t get a lump in your throat watching Croom on the sidelines as the game came to a close, you’ve got to be a real cold fish… or a Rebel fan.
Anyway, starting tomorrow, I’ll put up my thoughts on a game a day, beginning with #10.