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Tuesday, January 18, 2011
The SEC's top 10 moments in 2010

By Chris Low

As we look back one more time at the 2010 college football season, I’m faced with an impossible task.

Picking the top 10 moments this season in the SEC.

How about the top 25 or the top 50?

Anyway, here goes, and we’ll count them down in reverse order:

10. South Carolina ends Alabama’s streak: Alabama rolled into Williams-Brice Stadium on Oct. 9 as the unquestioned team to beat this season in college football and sporting a 19-game winning streak. The Gamecocks played a near perfect game that day and knocked off the Crimson Tide 35-21, setting off a party for the ages in Columbia.

9. The perfect bounce: In what had to be one of the plays of the year in college football, LSU kicker Josh Jasper took the over-the-head toss from his holder -- on the bounce, no less -- and scurried for a first down on a fake field goal to keep alive the Tigers’ game-winning drive in their 33-29 win over Florida in the Swamp.

Steve Spurrier
Steve Spurrier was carried onto the field by his players after defeating Florida 36-14.
8. Spurrier carried off at the Swamp: South Carolina went to its first-ever SEC championship game this season, and the Gamecocks clinched the Eastern Division title in the Swamp of all places. As the final seconds ticked down, the South Carolina players hoisted Steve Spurrier on their shoulders and carried him off the sidelines at a place he once ruled in the 1990s.

7. Meyer steps down at Florida: After two national championships in six seasons, Urban Meyer stepped down as Florida’s coach. And this time, he didn’t change his mind. Meyer initially resigned a year ago, only to change his mind a day later. But for a combination of health-related and family reasons, he didn’t turn back this time after a dizzying six-year run at Florida, and the Gators brought in Will Muschamp to replace him.

6. The chaotic end to the LSU-Tennessee game: We know now that it's never dull with the Mad Hatter. Just when it looked like another clock management blunder had cost Les Miles’ LSU football team at the end of the Tennessee game, the Vols were penalized for having 13 men on the field. So the Tigers got another play from the 1 and scored the game-winning touchdown in one of wildest endings you’ll ever see in any football game. The Vols' players were on the field celebrating when the officials made the call for having too many men on the field.

5. The comeback: Simply, it was the greatest comeback in the storied history of the Iron Bowl. Auburn, trailing 24-0 and its national championship hopes flickering, rallied for an improbable 28-27 victory over bitter rival Alabama, leaving the crimson-coated crowd at Bryant-Denny Stadium stunned in silence and paving the way for the Tigers to complete a perfect season.

4. Remembering Nick Bell: Following Mississippi State’s 52-14 rout of Michigan in the Gator Bowl and the acceptance of the trophy, the players lined up on the 36-yard line in memory of their fallen teammate, Nick Bell, who died in November after a battle with cancer. Bell wore No. 36 during his career. His mother, Linda, attended the Gator Bowl, and Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen went over to speak to her as the players stood silently in his memory on the 36.

3. Newton wins the Heisman: For the second straight year, the Heisman Trophy went to an SEC player. In his only season at Auburn, quarterback Cam Newton put together a record-setting season, accounting for an astonishing 51 touchdowns, and walked away with the top individual honor in college football.

2. The NCAA reinstates Newton: Amid an NCAA investigation that continues, the NCAA announced the week of the SEC championship game that Newton had been reinstated after Auburn declared him ineligible for a day. Both Auburn and the NCAA agreed that Newton’s father, Cecil Newton, attempted to shop his son to Mississippi State for money, but that there was no evidence of money exchanging hands or that Cam Newton knew anything about the pay-for-play scheme.

1. Auburn wins the national championship: Auburn reached college football’s pinnacle with a 22-19 victory over Oregon in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game. Not only was it Auburn’s first national title since 1957, but it was the fifth in a row for the SEC.