Friday, December 28, 2012
SEC predictions: Bowl week
By Edward Aschoff
And just like that, there's a new king of the SEC castle.
It seemed like only yesterday that Chris was gloating about his championship season of SEC picks. He reveled in the fact that he came back from what seemed like an insurmountable lead that I had built halfway through my first season on the blog. To lose the way I did last year really hurt, but it made me stronger and wiser.
This year, I came into the game with vengeance on my mind. Remember folks: Winning truly is the only thing in this world, and I intended to knock Chris down a few notches in Year 2.
It's clear that happened because we haven't seen as many anti-soccer references from him and he hasn't blasted me for being a cat-owning bachelor. No, the Chris Low who strutted around late last season is long gone after I crushed him in the picks this fall.
After we both correctly picked Alabama to beat Georgia in the SEC title game, I finished the year 101-12 (.893), while Chris went 94-19 (.832).
There's still a chance that Chris could make a run in the postseason, but I highly doubt that'll be the case. This one is over. In fact, it's been over for a while, but he pleaded with me to continue the picks through the bowl season. So here you go, Chris. Just for you, we're picking the bowl games.
We're saving the national championship for later, but here are the other eight SEC bowl games:
BBVA COMPASS BOWL (JAN. 5)
PITTSBURGH vs. OLE MISS
Chris Low: Very few people gave Ole Miss a chance to even be in a bowl game, but the Rebels made Hugh Freeze’s first season one to remember and will cap it in grand fashion. … Ole Miss 34, Pittsburgh 24
Edward Aschoff: The Rebels weren't supposed to be here, but Freeze's transformation of the program made Ole Miss a legitimate team in the SEC West this year. The momentum from that Egg Bowl win will carry over into a big win in Birmingham. ... Ole Miss 31, Pittsburgh 21
FRANKLIN AMERICAN MORTGAGE MUSIC CITY BOWL (Dec. 31)
NC STATE vs. VANDERBILT
Chris Low: Vanderbilt owns the SEC’s longest winning streak at six straight games. The Commodores will make it seven in a row in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. … Vanderbilt 27, NC State 24
Edward Aschoff: The Commodores are the SEC's hottest team right now and scored 40 points or more in four of their past five games. Vandy will extend its winning streak to seven games. ... Vanderbilt 31, NC State 17
TAXSLAYER.COM GATOR BOWL (Jan. 1)
MISSISSIPPI STATE vs. NORTHWESTERN
Chris Low: The schedule jumped up and grabbed the Bulldogs toward the end of the season after their 7-0 start. They won’t be able to get it back in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl. … Northwestern 23, Mississippi State 21
Edward Aschoff: Mississippi State didn't exactly end the season the way it expected and really struggled up front defensively. However, getting nine wins is a major motivator for the Bulldogs. ... Mississippi State 27, Northwestern 24
CHICK-FIL-A BOWL (Dec. 31)
LSU vs. CLEMSON
Chris Low: LSU wasn’t thrilled to drop to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, but the Tigers will take out their frustration on the ACC’s version of the Tigers -- Clemson. … LSU 24, Clemson 20
Edward Aschoff: With Zach Mettenberger's improved play, LSU now has a tougher offense for Clemson to battle. The fact that Clemson's defense is still struggling to stop anyone is a major concern. ... LSU 31, Clemson 17
OUTBACK BOWL (Jan. 1)
SOUTH CAROLINA vs. MICHIGAN
Chris Low: There was a time when bowl games and South Carolina football didn’t mix, but it’s a new day now that the Head Ball Coach has things rolling in Columbia. … South Carolina 31, Michigan 23
Edward Aschoff: The last time Michigan played an SEC team, the Wolverines were literally run out of the state of Texas. South Carolina brings a much more aggressive defense and the league's best defender to Tampa, Fla. ... South Carolina 28, Michigan 17
AT&T COTTON BOWL (Jan. 4)
TEXAS A&M VS. OKLAHOMA
Chris Low: Get out the calculators because this one might end up looking more like a basketball score. The Aggies will make enough stops on defense to pull it out in the fourth quarter. … Texas A&M 41, Oklahoma 38
Edward Aschoff: Expect a lot of points and a lot of yards in this one. Kliff Kingsbury might be gone, but Johnny Manziel and his gang of playmakers will keep that scoreboard flashing in Jerry's World. ... Texas A&M 44, Oklahoma 40
CAPITAL ONE BOWL (Jan. 1)
GEORGIA vs. NEBRASKA
Chris Low: Missing one of its top players on defense, noseguard John Jenkins, Georgia will be even more vulnerable against the run, and it remains to be seen where this team is emotionally after that crushing loss in the SEC championship game. … Nebraska 28, Georgia 24
Edward Aschoff: This might be one of the SEC's top bowls, but the Bulldogs certainly aren't enthused about being in Orlando instead of Miami. But Nebraska is pretty bummed, too, after being blown out by Wisconsin and missing out on the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Vizio. ... Georgia 27, Nebraska 23
ALLSTATE SUGAR BOWL (Jan. 2)
LOUISVILLE vs. FLORIDA
Chris Low: The Gators are returning to a BCS bowl game for the first time since 2009, and while they’re not a juggernaut on offense, they’re way too stout defensively for Louisville to get out of the Big Easy with a win. … Florida 27, Louisville 14
Edward Aschoff: The Gators certainly have more overall talent, but they've been known to play down to their competition. Still, Will Muschamp and his crew have proved to be excellent game planners when it really counts. ... Florida 28, Louisville 14