As expected, Alabama dominated Florida in the SEC championship game to secure the league title, an unbeaten regular-season record and its spot in the College Football Playoff. Now that it's all over, here are our final SEC power rankings of 2016:
1. Alabama: If anyone thought Alabama would take it easy with a playoff berth already sewn up, they were wrong. Instead, the Crimson Tide walloped Florida 54-16 to win the SEC, remain unbeaten and leave no doubt whether their No. 1 ranking was deserved or not. --Alex Scarborough
2. Auburn: There was the team that couldn't get out of its own way to start the season. There was the team that nobody could stop in October. And then there was the team that limped to the finish line. Still, Auburn was rewarded with a New Year's Six bowl, and Gus Malzahn expects his team to be close to 100 percent when it faces Oklahoma. --Greg Ostendorf
3. Florida: For the second straight season, Florida won the SEC East Division. However, the Gators ended both seasons with blowout losses to archrival Florida State and an SEC-title-game blowout loss to Alabama. This program is still dealing with major talent deficiencies on offense, especially at quarterback, and this team has yet to find an offensive identity in Jim McElwain's two seasons. --Edward Aschoff
4. LSU: A season that started with renewed optimism and College Football Playoff hype quickly turned into a disaster in September and left the Tigers with an interim coach after a 2-2 start. LSU turned things around to a degree, going 5-2 with Ed Orgeron in charge, helping him earn the full-time gig. The Tigers are one of the toughest teams in the SEC right now but will face uncertainty this offseason after losing a huge number of starters and having a grueling 2017 schedule ahead. --David Ching
5. Texas A&M: It was the same story, different verse for the third consecutive season for the Aggies: starting hot and crashing and burning at the end. They did take one new step, though: finding their way into the top four of the first 2016 College Football Playoff rankings. It didn't mean anything in the end (they finished the season outside the top 25) but it's clear that no major changes will be made this offseason. That means any improvements will have to come via recruiting and changes within the purview of the current roster and coaching staff, not an easy task considering the key talent on this team is set to either graduate or enter the NFL draft. --Sam Khan Jr.
6. Tennessee: Before the season, the Volunteers were the overwhelming favorite to win the SEC East. Tennessee returned nearly 20 starters and had the East's most accomplished quarterback in Joshua Dobbs. However, injuries piled up and Tennessee became a major disappointment with a 4-4 SEC record that included losses to South Carolina and Vanderbilt. Tennessee went from Atlanta-bound to finishing the season with back-to-back games in Nashville. --E.A.
7. Georgia: Kirby Smart's debut season as head coach ended with a thud, with the Bulldogs blowing a late lead against hated rival Georgia Tech and losing 28-27. That left Georgia with a 7-5 regular-season record, its worst since 2010. Smart and his staff are recruiting well, which is good since there are a lot of holes in the Bulldogs' roster right now. Nobody is happy with the way Smart's first season went, but changing the program the way he wants to change it will take time. Whether he'll get the job done is hard to say at this point. --D.C.
8. Kentucky: Has basketball season started yet? For the first time since the 2010 season, the football team will play in a bowl game and keep the focus on them for a little longer. The Wildcats overcame an 0-2 start and an injury to their starting quarterback to win seven games. Now it's on to the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville. --G.O.
9. Vanderbilt: An opening loss to South Carolina and a blowout loss to Georgia Tech in the first month of the season were supposed to spell disaster for Derek Mason and his Commodores. However, the Dores found an offensive identity late in the season and finished by winning four of their last six games, including a blowout win over Ole Miss and a 45-34 upset of Tennessee to become bowl eligible. --E.A.
10. Arkansas: A season that showed much promise in September produced some head-scratchers in the season's second half (like a 56-3 loss to Auburn and that forgettable finish vs. Missouri). There's no doubt the Razorbacks ended this season thinking they could have been better than the up-and-down, 4-5 stretch that followed their 3-0 start. With the entire offensive backfield returning next season, there might be some reason to believe the Hogs can take a step forward, but they have to get more consistent performances from their offensive line and defense. --S.K.
11. South Carolina: First-year coach Will Muschamp's midseason decision to burn freshman quarterback Jake Bentley's redshirt helped the Gamecocks claim an unexpected bowl berth. They went 4-2 once Bentley took over as the starter on Oct. 22, but there are still some roster issues that Muschamp's staff must address. It was a pleasant surprise seeing South Carolina become more competitive, especially with freshmen like Bentley, Rico Dowdle and Bryan Edwards emerging as productive players. Muschamp probably needs to stack a couple more strong recruiting classes if he is to ever turn the Gamecocks into title contenders, though. --D.C.
12. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs found a backdoor into the bowl season with a sub-.500 record, but never mind that. Dan Mullen and his staff found a way to finish the regular season on the perfect note by dominating rival Ole Miss and now find themselves in position to create even more momentum heading into next season. --A.S.
13. Ole Miss: From the injuries to the second-half letdowns to the late-season collapse, it was as disappointing a season as you could imagine for Ole Miss. The Rebels went from one of the SEC West contenders early on to one of just two SEC teams that failed to reach a bowl game. --G.O.
14. Missouri: It was a difficult first season for Barry Odom, dealing with roster attrition and injuries from seemingly the moment he took over. It was tough sledding, a season that included a five-game losing streak and the second straight year the team won't go bowling. But there were some promising signs, such as finishing the year with two wins in the last three games, both over bowl teams (Vanderbilt, Arkansas), and quarterback Drew Lock's growth is reason for optimism. --S.K.