SEC Football: One Reason Why Every Team Will Win Its Bowl Game
Did you know the SEC is currently the oddsmaker’s favorite in each of its nine bowl games?
Though most folks may not be overwhelmingly shocked by that brazen statement, let’s remember that the SEC is facing foes like Clemson, Oklahoma and Notre Dame this bowl season.
And while we might expect the SEC team to come out on top, there are no guarantees.
The following slideshow dismisses any such thoughts of an SEC postseason slump and boldly provides one reason why each conference member playing a bowl game will ultimately triumph.
If this daring list of prognostications is correct, the SEC will be 9-0 in bowl play by the time Tuesday, Jan. 7 rolls around.
Music City Bowl: Vanderbilt vs. NC State
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The last time Vanderbilt captured a postseason win was in the 2008 Music City Bowl when they tipped the scales on a 6-6 regular season by edging Boston College 16-14.
The one reason the Commodores will take their bowl record to 2-0 in Nashville comes down to a mismatch between NC State’s offense and Vandy’s D.
The Wolfpack come into the Music City Bowl with the No. 20 passing offense vs. the No. 109 rushing offense. It's pretty easy to surmise that they’re an outfit that likes to throw it.
Vanderbilt, very conveniently, owns rights to the No. 10 ranked pass defense in the land. If they can shut down QB Mike Glennon and friends and force NC State to run, it could be lights out.
It certainly won’t hurt that from a broader perspective the Commodores' D finished the season ranked No. 15 in scoring, holding opponents to an average of 18.3 points per game.
Chick-fil-A Bowl: LSU vs. Clemson
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The 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl features two teams that are virtually perfect opposites.
Indeed, if LSU and Clemson were going to date things could get provocative.
But since they’re just going to square off for some good old-fashioned football we’ll go out on a limb and say that the purple and gold Tigers have an edge over the orange ones due to defense.
LSU wins the Chicken Sandwich Bowl because its No. 20 ranked pass defense will bend but not break vs. Clemson’s No. 13 ranked pass attack. LSU's No. 9 rush defense will have no mercy on Clemson’s No. 33 ranked rushing O.
If you don’t think that defense ultimately wins championships keep in mind that this year’s national championship features Notre Dame’s No. 1 ranked scoring defense vs. Alabama’s No. 2 ranked unit.
Gator Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Northwestern
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From a national perspective you have to wonder if even SEC fans wouldn’t be a bit jacked to see Northwestern pull off its first bowl win since downing Cal in the 1949 Rose Bowl.
Would this ring true even if it meant one of its own, namely Mississippi State, dropped a bowl game this season?
Regardless, the reason why the Bulldogs will prevent Northwestern from finally, at long last, ending its nine-game bowl skid is all about exposing a certain someone’s very questionable pass defense.
The Wildcats come into bowl season with the No. 102 ranked pass defense in the FBS and have given up, on average, a whopping 262 yards through the air per game this season.
Keep in mind that in the Big Ten this season Northwestern hasn’t necessarily squared off with a passing gauntlet.
Enter Mississippi State’s passing offense, led by QB Tyler Russell, that has averaged 250 yards per game and suddenly you get the picture.
Though the Bulldogs should be able to shred the Wildcats through the air don’t’ be surprised if this isn’t one of the closer final scores on the SEC bowl slate.
Outback Bowl: South Carolina vs. Michigan
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The second of three opportunities for the SEC to lay down the hammer on the Big Ten, it’s South Carolina squaring off with Michigan in the Outback Bowl.
This one’s pretty simple; the Gamecocks win because their defense completely smothers the Wolverines' offense.
The smothered steak recipe begins with South Carolina’s No. 15 ranked rushing D shutting down Michigan’s offensive strength, its No. 39 ranked rushing offense.
And then comes the obvious: force Denard Robinson (or Devin Gardner) to try and beat you through the air. Only this time the Gamecocks have the No. 17 ranked pass defense in the country.
Capital One Bowl: Georgia vs. Nebraska
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In the battle between teams who share the unfortunate commonality of losing their respective conference championship games and getting knocked out of the BCS, Georgia and Nebraska will clash in the edifice known as the Florida Citrus Bowl for, well, a trophy.
The reason why the Bulldogs will lay waste to the Huskers is the same reason that Nebraska suffered each of its three losses this season—it can’t stop the run.
Nebraska finished the season ranked No. 95 vs. the run and allowed 344 rushing yards in its loss to UCLA, 371 to Ohio State and then a mind-altering 539 yards rushing to Wisconsin in the Big Ten title debacle.
Georgia, on the other hand, comes into the bowling season averaging 184 ground yards per game and in RB Todd Gurley they have the No. 22 back in terms of yards in the FBS.
On the surface this may not seem like an alarming set of facts but when you look at the three teams that Nebraska lost to in 2012 in terms of average rushing yards gained per game you get a clearer picture.
UCLA averaged 202 rushing yards per game this season, Ohio State averaged 242 and Wisconsin averaged 237.
Again, compare those figures to what each of these units hung up on Nebraska’s rushing D.
If this plays out as it could, look for freshman Todd Gurley’s name to gain some traction in the Heisman conversation in 2013.
Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. Louisville
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What you’ve got to ask yourself when you’re thinking about this year’s Sugar Bowl is can Louisville possibly score points on Florida’s defense?
We’re talking about a team that ranks No. 47 in scoring offense, a unit that has earned its stats in the Big East (not the SEC, not the Pac-12, not the Big 12, etc.) taking on the No. 3 ranked scoring defense in America.
You’ve got to wonder if Florida’s haphazard offense (No. 75 in scoring) can ring up points on Louisville’s No. 37 ranked scoring D.
But, since we’re going with one reason why the Gators will beat the Cardinals we’re going stick with defense which we’ve already established as the pinnacle of pinnacles in terms of winning games.
What’s intriguing about this one is that the Gators secret offensive weapon—their opportunistic defense that has provided 29 take-aways this season—may have their hands full with Louisville.
Yes, isn’t it a saucy little wrinkle that with only 12 turnovers all season the Cardinals are tied (with Florida, Northwestern and West Virginia) for the No. 6 slot nationally in the who’s who list of ball security?
Cotton Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma
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With the Aggies and Sooners ironically finding their way back together in the 2012 Cotton Bowl it would seem almost appropriate to have Peaches n’ Herb perform their super-smash “Reunited” at halftime.
Though Big 12 fans will no doubt be anxious for Oklahoma to smack down the turn-coat Aggies, it may be, once again, a lack of defense that costs the pass-happy league a big win vs. the SEC.
A&M beats Oklahoma in this season’s Cotton Bowl because the Sooner’s No. 82 ranked rushing defense will get ripped by the Aggies No. 13 ranked rushing offense.
Overall, it’s the Sooner’s No. 42 ranked scoring defense trying to contain A&M’s No. 3 ranked point-scoring attack.
BBVA Compass Bowl: Ole Miss vs. Pitt
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Perhaps the biggest wolf in sheep’s clothing for the SEC this bowling season, Pitt is better than its 6-6 record. They offer a legitimate threat to Ole Miss in the BBVA Compass Bowl.
Among the stats that cause further consideration are Pitt’s No. 21 national ranking in scoring defense, its No. 24 ranking vs. the run, a No. 13 ranking in turnover margin and a No. 1 national ranking in turnovers.
But the reason Ole Miss, and not Pitt, will win the BBVA Compass Bowl is that the Rebels have earned their 6-6 mark against a markedly more difficult slate than that of the Panthers.
To illustrate, Pitt faced four ranked teams in 2012 (Virginia Tech, Louisville, Notre Dame and Rutgers) while Ole Miss also squared off with four (Texas, Alabama, Georgia and LSU).
But only two of the Panther’s ranked foes this season finished the year ranked while all four of the Rebels' are still ranked, three of which are in the top 10.
Furthermore, Ole Miss faced seven FBS foes this season that finished the season with winning records while Pitt squared off with a mere five.
What’s even more telling is the fact that the Panthers faced two FCS squads in 2012 (they actually dropped their opener to Youngstown State) and they didn’t defeat a FBS foe in 2012 that finished the season with a winning record.
BCS Championship: Alabama vs. Notre Dame
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So then, what’s the one reason that Alabama will topple Notre Dame in the battle of defensive behemoths for all the marbles?
Well, as similar as the two teams are on paper there is one blaring statistical difference, and we’ll go with that as why it’s Roll Tide, again, in 2012-13.
This game will feature the two best defenses in college football. Notre Dame has allowed 10.3 points per game while Alabama has given up only 10.7, but one offense is far superior to the other.
Indeed, the Crimson Tide’s O comes into the title tilt ranked No. 15 nationally in scoring offense while Notre Dame lags well behind at No. 75.
To put this in perspective, Alabama has managed to score more points, on average per game, than Texas Tech, which finished the season ranked No. 17 nationally.
So it’s two great defenses, one decent offense and one top tier O (think 38.5 points per game good) playing for the big, cheesy enchilada.
Alabama wins, the SEC wins, the haters will hate, the Southerners will dance and we’ll all wait until next year for “another” champion in college football.