Here’s a quick preview of what to look for in the nine college football bowl games with SEC teams. I also included a confidence ranking among those bowl games.
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(Dec. 31 – Noon ET in Nashville)
Vanderbilt – Look for first 9-win season since 1915. VU is more balanced and plays better pass defense.
North Carolina State – Dana Bible is the interim coach. Dave Doeren takes over afterwards. No defense equals no win.
Winner: Vanderbilt (2nd most confident)
(Dec. 31 – 7:30pm ET in Atlanta)
LSU – If Mettenberger continues his good play, LSU will be too balanced and too talented to beat.
Clemson – Clemson brings serious speed but won’t be able to win enough battles at the LOS over four quarters.
Winner: LSU (6th most confident)
(Jan. 1 – Noon ET in Jacksonville)
Mississippi State – MSU has the conference’s longest bowl win streak at 5. Dan Mullen gets them ready.
Northwestern – The Wildcats are easy to like, but a 1-9 bowl record is too leaky for me.
Winner: Mississippi State (9th most confident)
(Jan. 1 – Noon ET in Tampa)
South Carolina – Motivation is always a question with SC. Talent and Steve Spurrier coaching in beloved Tampa make that thought go away.
Michigan – The final game for “Shoelace” if he plays. Can the good pass blocking slow-down the great pass rush of the Gamecocks. Not enough.
Winner: South Carolina (3rd most confident)
(Jan. 1 – 1pm ET in Orlando)
Georgia – The Bulldogs will be without starting NG John Jenkins. UGA is 18th in the nation in scoring. Georgia’s motivation is in question but the talent and explosiveness favors the Bulldogs.
Nebraska – Nebraska is 8th in the country in rushing. Unless the Cornhuskers make plays in the passing game, it won’t be enough to win.
Winner: Georgia (5th most confident)
(Jan. 2 – 8:30pm ET in New Orleans)
Florida – UF has the defense to frustrate and turnover the Louisville passing game. Special teams is a big advantage for the Gators as well.
Louisville – UL doesn’t match-up athletes, speed, talent or physicality with Florida. Gators would have to be completely lethargic to help Louisville.
Winner: Florida (1st most confident)
(Jan. 4 – 8pm ET in Arlington, TX)
Texas A&M – The Heisman trophy winner has only been slowed down in two halves by better defenses than OU.
Oklahoma – Old Big 12 foes meet. Defending the Aggies now is much different than before. If Bama couldn’t stop Johnny Football enough to win the game, I’d be surprised if the Sooners could.
Winner: Texas A&M (7th most confident)
(Jan. 5 – 1pm ET in Birmingham)
Ole Miss – OM will have the huge crowd advantage, speed advantage and will be excited to be there.
Pittsburgh – Pitt is average and inconsistent. The Panthers have shown some defensive toughness though.
Winner: Ole Miss (4th most confident)
BCS National Championship
(Jan. 7 – 8:30pm ET in Miami Gardens, FL)
Notre Dame – Can Notre Dame shorten the game and limit the possessions for the Tide, perhaps forcing Bama to throw more. ND’s defense and run game gives them a chance, despite the theory of many that the only way to beat the Tide is with the passing game. Notre Dame needs a great start to have a chance. If the Irish outplay Alabama through three quarters but don’t show that with a multi-score lead in the 4th then look for a Bama comeback in the 4th quarter to win it.
Alabama – Alabama is so good with lots of time to prepare. Even if Bama starts slow, it is so physical and tough that the team wears on opponents as the game goes on before eventually winning. I like the Tide team’s experience advantage in this situation as well. Alabama’s run game cannot be ignored. Bama has a tendency to be willing to throw teams out of a loaded box which leads to fewer touches for two of their better players in RBs Eddie Lacy and TJ Yeldon. Look for that. Also, see if Alabama has found ways to pressure to quarterback better during the long prep period. The QB play is also an advantage for Alabama. Alabama comes from behind in the 2nd half to win an entertaining, high-tension, low-scoring game.
Winner: Alabama 20-14 (8th most confident)