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Florida wins SEC East, will play in SEC Championship Game for first time since 2009

Jim McElwain's turnaround happened in a hurry.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With Saturday's 9-7 win over Vanderbilt in The Swamp, Florida has clinched the 2015 SEC East title — and its first trip to the SEC Championship Game since 2009.

The Gators improved to 6-1 in SEC play in 2015 with the victory, making their previously massive lead on the East insurmountable. No other East team can finish with a 6-2 record, which the Gators would notch even if they fall at South Carolina next Saturday.

The Gators will thus return to Atlanta and the Georgia Dome for the first time since Tim Tebow's senior season, when Alabama — with offensive coordinator Jim McElwain calling plays — handed them a 32-13 loss that ended a 21-game winning streak and Florida's dream of winning back-to-back national titles.

The Gators' closest pass at Atlanta in the years since was their second-place finish in the SEC East in 2012, when Georgia's head-to-head win propelled the Dawgs to Atlanta despite Florida possessing a 7-1 record in SEC play.

The five-year absence matched Florida's longest span without an SEC Championship Game appearance in the SEC's divisional era, which began in 1992. The Gators did not go to Atlanta between 2000 and 2006, but won SEC titles in both of those years.

Florida's 10 SEC Championship Game appearances already led all SEC teams. Their 11th, which will come on December 5 in the Georgia Dome, will only extend that lead.