- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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The people have spoken, and with more than 11,600 votes, Mississippi State has been chosen by our readers as the SEC team most likely to lose its bowl game.
The Bulldogs, who finished the season 8-4 and will play Northwestern in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., were the runaway favorites in our SportsNation poll, collecting 49 percent of the vote. Texas A&M, which takes on Oklahoma in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, was second with 22 percent of the vote. Georgia (Capital One Bowl vs. Nebraska) and LSU (Chick-fil-A Bowl vs. Clemson) both grabbed 10 percent of the vote, while Alabama (Discover BCS National Championship vs. Notre Dame) received just 9 percent.
Thanks to a horrendous end to the regular season (1-4), the Bulldogs are limping into the postseason. After that 7-0 start, we found out that Mississippi State wasn't who we thought it was, as its defense, especially its defensive line, was exposed. The Bulldogs had issues in the secondary, but the line struggled to get much pressure on opposing quarterbacks, leaving too much time for receivers to make plays.
Now, the Bulldogs have to take on a Northwestern team that loves to run and will exploit any sort of issues up front. It's easy to see why our readers aren't too high on Mississippi State right now.
As for Texas A&M, losing offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury could hurt the offense, but Johnny Manziel and his crew will still take the field against an Oklahoma team that allowed 30 or more points in three of its past four games. The Aggies defense has had its issues as well this season, so the Sooners won't be afraid to sling the ball around inside Cowboys Stadium.
Georgia could also be a little vulnerable against the Huskers after that devastating loss to Alabama in the SEC championship game. But Nebraska was pounded out of its spot in the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Vizio by a five-loss Wisconsin team and will be licking its wounds as well.
LSU takes on Clemson's high-powered offense, but will have the luxury of displaying its own solid offense inside the Georgia Dome. LSU has become much more well-rounded on offense since the Alabama game, giving Clemson just another thing to worry about.
As for Alabama, it's in for a true fist fight against Notre Dame in the BCS title game. Both teams play pop-you-in-the-mouth football, meaning a lot of players will leave this game all bumped and bruised up. Back-to-back titles and three crystal footballs in four years are riding on this one for the Crimson Tide.
7hSam Khan Jr.
1dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough