As if the idea of college football being just a little SEC-centric hadn’t been perpetuated enough, the conference went and produced a record 12 bowl-eligible teams in 2014. In fact, all seven teams in the SEC West earned their way to bowl eligibility and the league’s champion (Alabama) will be representing the conference in the first ever College Football Playoff (please send us the name of the marketing genius that came up with that name). Is it possible that the SEC teams will run the table during this bowl season? Let’s take a closer look at each matchup:
The Duck Commander Independence Bowl
Miami (FL) vs. South Carolina
Independence Stadium, Shreveport, LA
Sat. December 27th, 2014, 2:30 Central (ABC)
First off, this has to be the greatest bowl sponsor of all time. I’m just glad I live in a world where something like this is possible. Anyway, Shreveport is obviously a terrible holiday destination and South Carolina wildly underachieved this year, so look for the crowd in this game to resemble a Kansas football home game. Miami’s best win this year was against a basketball school with a 30,000 seat stadium. South Carolina struggled mightily on defense this season but look for the Gamecock offense to step up in this game as throngs of Carolina fans say their final goodbyes to quarterback Dylan Thompson (crickets?).
Prediction: South Carolina 27 Miami 21
The AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Texas A&M vs. West Virginia
Liberty Bowl, Memphis, TN
Monday December 29th, 2014, 1:00 Central (ESPN)
A pretty intriguing matchup here considering we have an old Big XII team facing off against their very random replacement. West Virginia did knock off Baylor earlier in the year but the Mountaineers had to limp their way to a sixth place conference finish. A&M also comes into the game a reeling bunch, but the Aggies like what they have seen in freshman quarterback Kyle Allen and he has a multitude of offense weapons at his disposal. Expect a close game but look for the Aggies to pull away late.
Prediction: Texas a&M 34 West Virginia 24
The Advocare Texas Bowl
Arkansas vs. Texas
NRG Stadium, Houston Texas
Monday, December 29th, 2014, 8:00 Central (ESPN)
The Arkansas Razorbacks actually emerged victorious in two, count em, TWO conference football games late in the year to earn their way to bowl eligibility. Texas struggled early, but found their way a bit down the stretch, finishing conference play at 5-4. This should be a pro-Texas crowd in Houston but Arkansas running game and underrated defense may prove to be too much in this matchup of sort-of rivals.
Prediction: Arkansas 20 Texas 17
Franklin American Mortage Music City Bowl
LSU vs. Notre Dame
LP Field, Nashville, TN
Tuesday, December 30th, 2014, 2:00 Central (ESPN)
You can probably file this in the “game looks better on paper” category as two major programs roll into this game with less-than-stellar records. LSU’s offense has been inconsistent all season but Notre dame has lost five of its last six games coming into the Music City Bowl. If LSU can continue the success that it had on the ground against Texas A&M then it could be a long day for the Irish, but then again, just about every day has been a long one for them since October.
Prediction: LSU 23 Nore Dame 10
The Belk Bowl
Georgia vs. Louisville
Bank of American Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Tuesday, Decemeber 30th, 2014, 5:30 Central (ESPN)
For some reason I always have a problem with bowl games with names where I am clueless as to what the actual sponsor’s product is. Seriously, what is Belk? Anyway, Louisville had a very solid 9-3 season under coach Bobby Petrino and will be looking to upset another SEC team this year (as they did to Florida two years ago). Georgia underachieved this year without a doubt but freshman running back Nick Chubb is an absolute beast for the Bulldogs. Mark Richt will have his team ready to play in this game and they win a close one in Charlotte.
Prediction: Georgia 30 Louisville 24
The Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl
Ole Miss vs. TCU
The Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
Wednesday, December 31st, 11:30 Central (ESPN)
Goodnes Chick-Fil-A is amazing…Anyway, TCU is playing as well as anyone in the country right now although being left out of the College Football Playoff may have taken the wind out of their sails. Ole Miss is battle tested and has wins over Alabama and Mississippi State which should bode well for them in this game. If a reasonable Bo Wallace shows up in Atlanta, the Rebels could very well find themselves showered in peaches at the conclusion of this game.
Prediction: Ole Miss 26 TCU 23
The Capital One Orange Bowl
Mississippi State vs. Georgia Tech
Sunlife Stadium, Miami, FL
Wednesday, December 31st, 2014, 7:00 Central (ESPN).
Mississippi State vaulted to #1 in the rankings for much of the conference season although dropped two games at the end of the season that ended their hopes of an SEC Championship. Georgia Tech has already notched a victory over Georgia from the SEC and nearly upset Florida State in the ACC Championship. It’s always hard to adjust to Tech’s triple-option rushing attack but you have to think Dan Mullen will have something up his sleeve in this contest. Bulldog quarterback Dak Prescott is one of the best in the country and look for him to have a big game in Miami. Look for a wild, back-and-forth affair with Mississippi State holding on to win in the end.
Prediction: Mississippi State 38 Georgia Tech 34
The Outback Bowl
Auburn vs. Wisconsin
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Thursday, January 1st, 2015, 11:00 Central (ESPN2)
To say that the Big 10 tends to struggle against the SEC in bowl games is a severe understatement. The Badgers are coming off an epic beat down at the hands of Ohio State which may or may not have led to their coach leaving for Oregon State. Wisconsin battled a very down LSU team early in the season and could not come out on top and look for a similar result in this Outback Bowl. The Auburn offense will have to carry the Tigers to victory in this game as Will Muschamp will not be available to coordinate their defense until next season. Look for a lot of scoring here, most of which will likely come from the team in orange and blue.
Prediction: Auburn 41 Wisconsin 24
Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl
Missouri vs. Minnesota
Citrus Bowl, Orlando, FL
Thursday, January 1st, 2015, 12:00 Central (ABC)
Didn’t there used to be a separate “Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl?” Weird. Anyhoo, Missouri comes into this game fresh off a second consecutive SEC East Championship, meanwhile, Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill has done an admirable job of making Minnesota relevant in the Big 10. Missouri’s defense has been the story all season and the Gopher quarterback Mitch Leidner will have to be weary of the pass-rushing duo of Shane Ray and Markus Golden. Mizzou has found a way to win close games all season and will prove to be too much for the Gophers.
Prediction: Missouri 24 Minnesota 19
Allstate Sugar Bowl
Alabama vs. Ohio State
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA
Thursday, January 1st, 2015, 7:30 Central (ESPN)
Who cares what bowl game this is, we have a legit College Football Playoff going on here! Ohio State is on its third string quarterback at this point and Alabama is clicking on all cylinders. The balanced ‘Bama offense should control this game from the get-go and it will likely be a Crimson Tide party on Bourbon Street after this game. Look for the Buckeyes to keep it close until halftime, but the Tide should be able to wear Ohio State down in the second half like they did to Missouri and Auburn in weeks prior.
Prediction: Alabama 34 Ohio State 20
Tennessee vs. Iowa
Everbank Field, Jacksonville, FL
Friday, January 2nd, 2015, 2:20 Central (ESPN)
What more do you need to know about the Iowa Hawkeyes other than the fact that they were defeated by Iowa State this season. Tennessee is clearly an up-and-coming team in the SEC East and a win in this bowl game could help set them up beautifully for 2015. A loss would give them yet another losing record making it a bit harder to get the SEC hype machine behind them leading into next year. Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs is a play-maker, and the grind of an SEC schedule will help the Vols in this game as they are able to notch a close win.
Prediction: Tennessee 33 Iowa 28
Florida vs. East Carolina
Legion Field, Birmingham, AL
Saturday, January 3rd, 2015, 11:00 Central (ESPN)
Wait, the Florida Gators are in a bowl game? Yep this system is still broken. It would be a shame for the SEC to run the table this bowl season only to watch Florida squander it against a very tough East Carolina team but let’s try to give the Gators the benefit of the doubt here. East Carolina was unable to win the AAC Conference after a red-hot start and will still be at a large athletic disadvantage against the underachieving Gators. Florida’s defense will be the key to this game and if they can force a few turnovers and create short fields, Florida may find themselves with a program-defining (ok not quite) 7th victory this season.
Prediction: Florida 23 East Carolina 20