Alabama’s top five SEC championship wins under Saban

Robert Cortez | @robertcortez27, Assistant Sports Editor

5. Personal space, please and thank you. 

Courtesy of UA Athletics

2015: Florida 

Derrick Henry, the current reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year, took college by storm with his ability to create space between the defenders and himself using his stiff arm. It was no different in the 2015 SEC Championship Game. 

It was a record-setting day for the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner. His 189 rushing yards in the game put him at 1,986 on the season, allowing him to surpass Herschel Walker, who set the SEC single-season rushing yards record in 1981. Henry’s Most Valuable Player of the game performance came in front of 75,320 people. 

Henry was not the only player with a standout performance in the SEC Championship Game. The Alabama defense as a whole had a strong showing. The Crimson Tide defense held Florida to 180 total yards and a slim seven first downs, sacking the quarterback five times.

The Crimson Tide’s win marked their second straight conference title, making it the first program to win back-to-back conference championships since Tennessee in 1997-98. 

Watch the full game here.  

4. Not blindsided … Well, at least not us. 

Courtesy of UA Athletics

2020: Florida

The constant storyline in Alabama’s 2020 season was its explosive offensive, which was on full display in the program’s most recent and 28th SEC Championship. The offense posted 605 total yards. The now-Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris was named the Most Valuable Player. His MVP performance included a career-best five touchdowns and 245 all-purpose yards. 

The eventual 2020 Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith also had a career-best day as he racked up 184 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns. 

Despite the seven touchdowns in the game, two other moments stole the show. 

First, wide receiver John Metchie III’s hit on Florida defensive back Trey Dean III caused a fumble. Alabama recovered, and Smith scored his first of two touchdowns of the game.

This swung all the momentum towards the Crimson Tide. The photograph of Metchie’s hit went viral. 

The second was a heartwarming moment for the Alabama faithful. Fans watched teammates embrace current left guard for the Philadelphia Eagles Landon Dickerson as he was carted off the field. Dickerson tore his left ACL late in the game. 

Watch the full game here

3. Deja Vu (Hurts’ Version)

2018: Georgia

In 2017, it was Tua Tagovailoa who came into play in the second half of the national championship against Georgia, replacing Jalen Hurts. Tagovailoa led the program to its 17th national title and its fifth under Nick Saban. 

In 2018, the script flipped. Hurts came in to replace an injured Tagovailoa with 11:15 left in the fourth quarter, trailing 28-21. 

Hurts completed a touchdown pass to current Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy on third-and-10 to knot the game up at 28 apiece. In the following offensive possession, Hurts and company began the drive at the Alabama 48-yard line after a failed fake punt attempt by Georgia. 

The drive ended with Hurts running into the endzone for a 15-yard touchdown, making the final 35-28. 

The late game heroics from Hurts to beat Georgia for the second championship game in a row were enough to make the game memorable, but Saban’s choked up interview about Hurts after the game tugged at fans’ heartstrings.. 

Watch the full game here. Saban’s interview starts at 2:38:45. 

2. Changing of the guard. 

Courtesy of UA Athletics

2009: Florida

It was the start of Saban’s dynasty.

Tears streamed down the face of Florida quarterback and 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow as the clock hit triple zeros. 

The gator chomp was mocked down the Alabama sideline. The Crimson Tide had just taken down the No. 1 team in the country and reigning national champions. 

Alabama punched its ticket to its first National Championship game in 17 years, and went on to win its first of six titles under Saban.

Current New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram II posted 113 rushing yards in the game and three touchdowns. The 2009 Heisman Trophy winner’s ground yards in the game put him at 1,542 on the season. This made him the first Alabama running back to tally over 1,500 yards during a season. 

Watch the full game here

1. Your state, but our house. 

Courtesy of UA Athletics

2012: Georgia

In front of a crowd of 75,624, a game played with five lead changes and no lead larger than 11 points resulted in Alabama’s second conference championship under Saban and its 23rd in program history. 

All eyes watched the final snap of the game to see if they would come away with a victory or face a silent and weary drive back home in defeat. 

Georgia began its final drive with 1:15 on the clock, no time outs and started on its own 15-yard line. The Bulldog offense was trotted all the way down Alabama’s 8-yard line after five positive yardage plays. Three of those five plays were at least a 15-yard gain. 

On the first-and-goal play, the ball was snapped with 10 seconds left on the clock. The pass was completed to wide receiver Chris Conley, who slipped in bounds. With no timeouts, the clock drained. 

Watch the full game here

Fans are waiting to see if this weekend’s matchup against Georgia will make future rankings of top-five SEC Championship Games under Saban. Find out on Saturday, Dec. 4, at 3 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on CBS. 

Correction on Dec. 1: On the first-and-goal play of the 2012 SEC Championship against Georgia, the pass was completed to wide receiver Chris Conley.