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Top five clutch performances from SEC players in 2015

From Buddy Hield’s 37-point game against Oregon to Malachi Richardson’s 21 second-half points to help lead Syracuse on that miraculous comeback against Virginia, there have been some clutch individual performances in the NCAA tournament so far.

And with the Final Four this Saturday, there’s likely more on the way.

That got us thinking back to the college football season and the top clutch performances by SEC players. Here’s a look at the top five.

1. Derrick Henry vs. LSU: It was Alabama and LSU, two top-five teams led by two Heisman Trophy-caliber running backs going head-to-head. Leonard Fournette was stymied by the Alabama defense most of the night, rushing for just 31 yards on 19 carries. But not Henry. The junior rushed for 210 yards and scored two of his three touchdowns in the second half to help the Crimson Tide pull away in a 30-16 victory. He didn’t get tired or worn down, either. Henry carried the ball 10 times for 78 yards on what turned out to be a 13-play drive that ate up the final nine minutes of the game. It was truly a Heisman moment.

2. Chad Kelly vs. Alabama: To beat Alabama, you typically need a clutch performance from one of your star players. Ole Miss got it on Sept. 19 from Kelly. The junior college transfer, playing on the road in his first SEC game, struggled in the first half. But after completing a ridiculous touchdown pass that deflected off a defender’s helmet, he settled in and threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns in the second half alone. Every time it looked like Alabama was going to come back, he made a play to keep the Rebels in front. Thanks to Kelly, Ole Miss escaped Tuscaloosa with a 43-37 victory.

3. Will Grier vs. Tennessee: For most of the game, Tennessee's Joshua Dobbs looked like the better quarterback. But in the second half, the freshman Grier stepped up and led his team to victory. In the third quarter, he completed a 21-yard pass to Brandon Powell on a critical fourth-and-6 play that led to a touchdown. Then, with the Gators trailing 27-14 in the fourth quarter, he engineered two consecutive scoring drives in which he went 11-of-17 for 141 yards and two touchdowns. His 63-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Callaway with 1:26 remaining proved to be the game-winner in a 28-27 victory.

4. Dak Prescott vs. Arkansas: The Mississippi State quarterback had plenty of clutch moments during his time in Starkville, but his fourth quarter against Arkansas in his senior season will easily go down as one of his finest. After squandering a 10-point halftime lead and falling behind 42-31, Prescott took over in the final quarter. He rushed for a touchdown and threw for two more, including the go-ahead strike – a 14-yard pass to Fred Ross – with just over three minutes left. The senior finished with 508 yards passing and seven total touchdowns to lead Mississippi State to a wild 51-50 victory on the road.

5. Adam Griffith vs. Auburn: Kickers don’t usually get much credit unless they nail a game-winning field goal at the end of a game. But Griffith, returning to the stadium where his 56-yard attempt that fell short became one of the most iconic plays in college football, came through in the clutch from the first quarter to the fourth quarter. On a day when Alabama struggled to find the end zone, Griffith was good from 26, 40, 26 and 50 in the first half. Then, with the Tide ahead by six in the fourth quarter, he drilled a 47-yarder to make it a two-possession game. Alabama won 29-13.

Honorable mention

Brandon Allen vs. Auburn: In a four-overtime thriller, the Arkansas quarterback made clutch throw after clutch throw to keep his team in the game. Then, he put his team ahead for good with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Drew Morgan in a 54-46 victory.

Allen and Kelly (Arkansas at Ole Miss): Between them, they finished with 810 yards passing and 12 total touchdowns. Six of those 12 touchdowns came in the fourth quarter or overtime as Arkansas won 53-52 in overtime.

Christian Kirk vs. Arizona State: Playing in his first college game, Kirk was sensational, with six catches for 106 yards. The freshman did it all for Texas A&M, but it was his 66-yard touchdown catch with 3:45 left that put the game away for the Aggies in a 38-17 victory.

Joshua Dobbs vs. Georgia: After falling behind 24-3 in the first half, Dobbs led Tennessee on a wild comeback, and his five-yard touchdown run with five minutes remaining proved to be the difference in a 38-31 victory.

Peyton Barber vs. Kentucky: On Auburn’s go-ahead touchdown drive, Barber converted three critical third downs, including a three-yard run into the end zone on third-and-1 to give the Tigers a 30-27 victory.