Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Roquan Smith (3) is awarded the MVP after defeating the Auburn Tigers in the SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs will meet in the 31st SEC Championship Game on Saturday. We can expect some memorable moments because this game has produced so many of them over the years.

With 30 years of memories, there have been several great games over the years, going back to the very first SEC Championship Game played in Legion Field in 1992 when Alabama faced the Florida Gators.

Many thought SEC commissioner Roy Kramer was crazy when he suggested that the SEC have a championship game, but it’s paid off. Soon, other conferences followed suit. Still, the biggest and best conference championship game of the day is arguably the one played in Atlanta every year.

Let’s get ready for the 2023 SEC Championship Game by counting down the greatest SEC Championship Games of the past 30 years.

Tennessee quarterback and "maestro" Peyton Manning leads the Vols' Pride of the Southland Band in a rendition of "Rocky Top" after the No. 3 ranked Volunteers closed out Vanderbilt 17-10 at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville Nov. 29, 1997.
Syndication: The Tennessean

1997: Tennessee 30 – Auburn 29

This was Tennessee and Auburn’s first appearance in the championship game. As good as Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning was throughout his college career, he had never won an SEC title until now. The Vols were down 20-7 in the first half but made a furious second-half comeback behind Manning to win the game, 30-29. Manning put on a show, going 25-of-43 for 373 yards with four TDs and two interceptions, including a 73-yard score in the fourth quarter to take the lead. This would be Manning’s only championship in his college career, though he was named SECCG MVP.

Alabama offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood (70) celebrates after Alabama defeated Florida 52-46 victory in the SEC Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports

2020: Alabama 52 – Florida 46

This was the fifth time in the SECCG history these two schools met, but the first since 1992. Both teams came into this game with high-powered offenses. Alabama was led by Mac Jones, DeVonta Smith, and Najee Harris, all Heisman finalists. Meanwhile, Florida was led by quarterback Kyle Trask, who was also a Heisman finalist. The Tide took a huge lead but had to hold off Trask and the Gators to win it, 52-46. Trask would throw for three touchdowns and 408 yards but Mac Jones would win the duel, throwing for 418 yards and five touchdowns in the Tide’s victory. Eventual Heisman winner DeVonta Smith caught 15 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns. The Tide would go on to win the national championship that season.

Louisiana State Tigers head coach Les Miles and defensive tackle (72) Glenn Dorsey hold up the trophy for the SEC Championship after the Tigers defeated the Tennessee Volunteers at the SEC Championship at the Georgia Dome.
Credit: Dale Zanine USA TODAY Sports

2007: LSU 21 – Tennessee 14

The 2007 college football season was a crazy one. LSU was supposed to come into this game undefeated but lost to Arkansas the week before, which many presumed ended their run for the national championship. They still had the chance to win the SEC Championship against the Vols. Many thought that LSU head coach Les Miles was on his way out the door to be the new head coach at Michigan, something Miles would later deny. The Tigers played without starter Matt Flynn, who was injured. However, backup QB Ryan Perrilloux powered the Tigers to a 21-14 victory. Vols QB Erik Ainge threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter to end Tennesee’s comeback chances. Despite having two losses, LSU would indeed go on to win the national championship that season.

Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban (left) and Eddie Lacy (42) celebrate after defeating the Georgia Bulldogs 32-28 in the 2012 SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome.
Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

2012: Alabama 32 – Georgia 28

This game would mark the first time the Tide and Bulldogs would face each other in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama was the No. 2 team in the country while Georgia entered at No. 3. Although the game was close in the first half, the Bulldogs took a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter. Behind AJ McCarron and Amari Cooper, the Tide not only tied the game but eventually took the lead. Down four with time running out, Aaron Murray drove Georgia down the field into the red zone, but they fell short, running out of time at the five-yard line. Alabama would not only win the SEC Championship but went on to win Nick Saban’s third national title as well.

Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) breaks the tackle of Georgia defensive back Richard LeCounte (2) on a long touchdown play in the SEC Championship Game at Mercedes Benz Stadium
Syndication: Montgomery

2018: Alabama 35 – Georgia 28

The 2018 SEC Championship Game again saw Alabama vs Georgia, which would continue in the years ahead. They hadn’t met here since 2012 and, like that game, this one would be epic. Alabama fell behind early by two touchdowns and had to attempt a comeback without quarterback Tua Tagavoila, who was injured during the game. The Tide turned to former starter Jalen Hurts for one of the most remarkable comebacks in SEC Championship Game history. Hurts would lead the comeback by throwing and passing the Tide to a 35-28 come-from-behind victory.

Florida Gators running back Errict Rhett (33) running the ball against the Alabama Ride Tide during the 1992 SEC Championship game at Legion Field.
Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

1992: Alabama 28 – Florida 21

The very first D-I conference championship game was also one to remember. Alabama came into the game undefeated and a loss to the Gators would end their hopes of playing for a national championship against Miami in the Sugar Bowl. The Tide took control early and held a 21-7 lead in the third quarter when the Gators responded with a pair of touchdowns to tie it up in the fourth quarter. Florida was in prime position to complete the upset with a little over three minutes left but UF quarterback Shane Matthews was intercepted by Bama’s Antonio Langham, who returned it 27 yards for the backbreaking touchdown.

“There was a lot of angst even before the game, a lot of angst, and I’m not sure what the future of the conference championship game would have been had Alabama lost that first one and been knocked out of the national championship,” Former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer said of the first SECCG. “Our goal was for that game to serve as a showcase for the SEC, and I think we accomplished that.”

About Stacey Mickles

Stacey is a 1995 graduate of the University of Alabama who has previously worked for other publications such as Sportskeeda and Saturday Down South.