Ranking the SEC programs this decade

Alabama has a chance to win the SEC’s fifth national championship this decade and the sixth of the BCS era, which dates back to 1998.

As this decade comes to a close, we’ve done some research to provide a statistical answer to the question everybody’s going to be asking: Who’s been the strongest program in the SEC over the last 10 years?

We’ve tried to cover just about every category, from record against SEC competition, to record against nationally ranked foes, to record in bowl games.

Taking into account all that information and then some, we’ve come up with our own ranking of the 12 SEC teams for this decade.

Florida edges out LSU for the top spot, but barely.

Here's what we came up with:

It was a tough call between Arkansas and South Carolina for the No. 7 spot and equally difficult to choose between Kentucky and Mississippi State for the No. 10 spot. The Hogs were 6-4 against the Gamecocks this decade and made two appearances to the Gamecocks’ none in the SEC championship game. Those were the two factors that made the difference for Arkansas. It was even closer between the Wildcats and Bulldogs. They both had the same SEC record, and Kentucky was 6-4 against Mississippi State this decade. But the Bulldogs had four more wins against nationally ranked teams and also recorded a Top 25 finish in 2000. Those were the two factors that nudged Mississippi State into the No. 10 spot.

Also, Florida, LSU, Georgia and Auburn were the only four teams with winning records against nationally ranked teams. Alabama was just 19-27, but 8-2 over the last two seasons. Ole Miss has won four of its last six games against Top 25 teams. But prior to that stretch, the Rebels had lost 15 straight games to nationally ranked opponents.