The SEC opens bowl play on December 29th.
While it's highly unlikely that a conference with nine teams in action could go undefeated, the SEC might just pull it off this year. Here's a breakdown of each game...
1. UCF vs. Mississippi State in Tennessee
Yes, Kevin Smith is a good football player. But is he better than Darren McFadden, who was held to 88 yards on 28 carries when Mississippi State played Arkansas this year?
UCF has suddenly become the chic pick for bowl season, but I’ve seen the Knights drop too many big games to believe they can beat the Bulldogs, whose defense will be too much for UCF.
2. Alabama vs. Colorado in Shreveport
This appears to be a toss-up, as both teams have registered big wins but terrible losses this year.
The location alone (Nick Saban knows Louisiana pretty well) makes me think the Tide will come out on top.
3. Kentucky vs. Florida State in Nashville
Even without the suspensions, this would be a tough game for FSU to win.
Florida State’s offense simply hasn't been able to keep up with big scoring teams this year, and I don’t see that changing.
4. Clemson vs. Auburn in Atlanta
This is an intriguing matchup, as both teams are very familiar with playing in Atlanta. But while Clemson has a tendency to choke in high-profile games, Auburn has a knack for winning the big ones.
5. Wisconsin vs. Tennessee in Tampa
Yet another toss-up. I give Tennessee the slight edge, for two reasons:
First, the revenge factor. The Vols lost this bowl game last year to Penn State on a terrible fumble.
Second, experience. Tennessee has been in a number of close game this season, and while it wasn’t pretty, they ended up winning all of them except the SEC Championship Game.
6. Missouri vs. Arkansas in Dallas
This is probably the most unlikely win for the SEC. Missouri is out to prove the world wrong; meanwhile, Houston Nutt has bolted for Ole Miss.
But something tells me D-Mac—fresh off yet another Heisman runner-up ceremony—is going to have a monster game.
Look for a shootout heading into the fourth quarter.
7. Michigan vs. Florida in Orlando
Florida ended the season healthy and on an absolute tear, dialing up huge numbers and finally playing some defense.
Michigan, meanwhile ended their season with injuries, a two-game losing streak, and a retiring coach.
Couple that with Urban Meyer’s spotless bowl record and Lloyd Carr’s less than spectacular mark, and this seems like an easy one for the Gators.
8. Hawaii vs. Georgia in New Orleans
This is a scary one for SEC fans, as Hawaii is the ultimate unknown—sure, they've racked up points and statistics, but they've played virtually no one.
I have to think Georgia’s running game will be the difference. Knowshon Moreno and Thomas Brown should both have field days, and the Hawaii offense won't get as many possessions as it would like.
9. LSU vs. Ohio State in LSU’s backyard
It’s been an odd year for the Tigers.
After humiliating Mississippi State and Virginia Tech, they scraped out several close wins, and suffered two extremely close losses.
Ohio State, on the other hand, is winless against the SEC in bowl play.
The situation is right for LSU, but I think it will take another close one for “The Hat” to get his ring.