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Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Picking the SEC bowls, Jan. 1-2


Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

I've had all this time now to formulate my thoughts, do my research (flipping coins) and check the injury reports. With that in mind, here's the way I see the SEC bowl games going, beginning with the games on Thursday. I'll give you my pick for the FedEx BCS National Championship Game next week:

Alabama 24, Utah 20: The loss of Alabama Outland Trophy winner Andre Smith at left tackle makes this game a lot more interesting. His suspension makes it less likely that Alabama will be able to line up and simply mash Utah physically in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Emotionally, losing a player the caliber of Smith also takes its toll, but this has been a mentally tough and focused Alabama team that has bought into Nick Saban's philosophy of controlling what you can control and not worrying about anything else. The Utes are for real, and it won't be easy. But Alabama will find a way to win and put a big crimson bow on what's been a brilliant season in Tide Land.

Ole Miss 38, Texas Tech 28: The Rebels were on the kind of roll to end the regular season that the last thing they wanted to see was a month break after their 45-0 shellacking of Mississippi State on Nov. 28. They get a chance to continue that momentum and make one of their most convincing statements yet about what kind of team they are against No. 7-ranked Texas Tech in the AT&T Cotton Bowl. All season, we debated the Big 12 offensive thing versus the SEC defensive thing. Well, the Rebels are good enough defensively to hold the Red Raiders under 30, and that will be good enough to win.

Georgia 34, Michigan State 21: It's hard to have a lot of faith that Georgia is going to stop anybody after watching the Bulldogs on defense for most of this season. But it's also hard to imagine that Michigan State is going to be able to account for all of Georgia's offensive weapons. The running back battle between Knowshon Moreno and Javon Ringer will be fun to watch, but Matthew Stafford's passing will be what breaks the game open for the Bulldogs in their Capital One Bowl win.

South Carolina 27, Iowa 21: The best thing South Carolina did all season was play defense. But with the extra time to prepare, the Head Ball Coach should be able to get enough out of this offense and more good plays than bad plays from redshirt freshman quarterback Stephen Garcia to finally help Ellis Johnson's unit and steal away with a win over the Hawkeyes in the Outback Bowl.

East Carolina 21, Kentucky 17: Freshman Randall Cobb added a spark to the Wildcats' struggling offense when he took over at quarterback toward the end of the season. But he's out of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, which means it's Mike Hartline's show again. Scoring points was a problem with Hartline at the helm, and that's not likely to change against the Pirates.