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Monday, August 3, 2009
The SEC's best champions since expansion

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

With ESPN.com colleagues Pat Forde, Ivan Maisel and Mark Schlabach endeavoring to come up with a new look in college football and trim the FBS to 40 teams, it got me thinking about who the best teams in the SEC were over the last two decades.

Since the league expanded in 1992 and went to a championship game, there have been seven national champions -- Alabama (1992), Florida (1996), Tennessee (1998), LSU (2003), Florida (2006), LSU (2007) and Florida (2008).

The best of the bunch? That's a tough one.

What's more, a few of the SEC champions since expansion didn't win national titles ... but would be right up there on my list if I were picking the best teams during that era. Take the 1995 Florida team, for example.

The Gators were pummeled 62-24 in the Fiesta Bowl that season by a dominant Nebraska team for their only loss. And while there's no denying how embarrassing that loss was for the Gators, especially with the national championship at stake, that team is easily one of the best five to 10 teams in the SEC since expansion.

Who's my pick as the best SEC champ since the advent of the championship game in 1992?

I'm sorry. I can't pick just one, but I will pick the five I would attempt to choose from (listed in chronological order):

1992 Alabama -- The best defense I've seen in this league in my lifetime.

1996 Florida -- The Head Ball Coach's best and most complete team at Florida.

1998 Tennessee -- The last unbeaten national champion from the SEC.

2004 Auburn -- The unbeaten Tigers were loaded, but never got a chance to play for it all.

2008 Florida -- Ended the season with back-to-back victories over No. 1-ranked teams.