SEC Bowl Games: 5 Players Who Will Have the Biggest Stats in Bowl Play

Jeremy Hillman@@SECpigskinContributor IDecember 7, 2011

SEC Bowl Games: 5 Players Who Will Have the Biggest Stats in Bowl Play

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    Tyler Wilson has had a monster 2011 season.  Impressive, seeing he had the stressful and unenviable task of replacing popular QB Ryan Mallett this offseason.

    Wilson leads the SEC, and is 15th in the nation in passing yards, with 3,422 pass yards on the season.

    Arkansas, after a solid 10-2 season, will play Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl on January 6th.

    This matchup is great news for the Arkansas quarterback, as the Kansas State defense ranks 104th in the nation in stopping the pass, allowing a poor 267 passing yards a game.

    The porous Wildcat defense allowed over 450 passing yards to other prolific passing offenses from Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State this year.

    On the flip side, against another Big 12 team earlier in the season, Texas A&M, Tyler Wilson threw for a ridiculous 510 yards and three touchdowns.

    Look for a huge day from the talented junior quarterback.

Vick Baillard, RB, Mississippi St.

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    Vick Ballard is a big bruising running back, at 5-11 and 220 pounds, and a senior with plenty of experience in rumbling through defenses.

    He hasn't had as big of a 2011 season as many expected, because he shared carries with scrambling quarterback Chris Relf for most of the year, and because he played against tough SEC defenses including South Carolina, Georgia, LSU and Alabama.

    However, even with these limitations, Ballard was able to rush for over 1,000 yards in the regular season and scored eight rushing touchdowns. 

    Mississippi State is matched up with Wake Forest in the Music City Bowl this year. That's good news for Ballard, as the Demon Deacons rank 70th in the nation in rushing defense, allowing 162 rushing yards per game.

    Wake has struggled to stop the run all season, giving up 224 rush yards and four rushing touchdowns against North Carolina, 229 rushing yards to Maryland, and finishing the season by giving up 297 rushing yards and three rushing TDs in a lopsided loss to SEC foe Vanderbilt.

    Ballard and his hard running style ran for 144 yards and a touchdown in his last game, in a win over rival Ole Miss, and should be able to keep that solid production up against a porous Wake Forest defense.

Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas

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    Tyler Wilson has had a monster 2011 season.  Impressive, seeing he had the stressful and unenviable task of replacing popular QB Ryan Mallett this offseason.

    Wilson leads the SEC, and is 15th in the nation in passing yards, with 3,422 pass yards on the season.

    Arkansas, after a solid 10-2 season, will play Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl on January 6th.

    This matchup is great news for the Arkansas quarterback, as the Kansas State defense ranks 104th in the nation in stopping the pass, allowing a poor 267 passing yards a game.

    The porous Wildcat defense allowed over 450 passing yards to other prolific passing offenses from Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State this year.

    On the flip side, against another Big 12 team earlier in the season, Texas A&M, Tyler Wilson threw for a ridiculous 510 yards and three touchdowns.

    Look for a huge day from the talented junior quarterback.

Jarius Wright, WR, Arkansas

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    Before the season, most people projected Arkansas receiver Greg Childs to be the Razorbacks' top wideout in 2011.

    However, dynamic senior WR Jarius Wright had a huge season, and ended up being not just the top receiver for the Razorbacks, but the top wideout in the entire conference this season.

    The smallish (5-10, 180 lbs.) receiver hauled in an impressive 63 catches for 1029 yards and 11 TDs.

    Wright and the Razorbacks play Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

    For many of the same reasons that Tyler Wilson made this list, including the poor Kansas State pass defense, Wright should have a big game in the Cotton Bowl.

    Wildcat cornerback David Garrett is a senior and will most likely be matched up with Wright in this game. He has struggled in the open field in single coverage this season and will need help from the safeties to try and keep Wright in check.

    Look for a solid game from Wright, even if he is double-teamed at times.

Casey Hayward, DB, Vanderbilt

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    Vanderbilt has been the surprise of the SEC, earning a rare bowl invite with a 6-6 record on the season.

    One of the main reasons for the upswing in Nashville has been the play of the defense this year.

    A key member of the Commodore defense is DB Casey Hayward. The play-making senior is a leader on field and a producer in the stats book.

    Vanderbilt will play Cincinnati in the Liberty Bowl in three weeks.

    Vanderbilt is third in the SEC in interceptions with 17 picks. Likewise, Hayward is third in the conference in interceptions, grabbing five picks and taking one back for a touchdown.

    That will become a problem for Cincinnati, as they have struggled with throwing interceptions all season.

    Zach Collaros is a talented passer and was the starter for most of the season, until an injury benched him for backup Munchie Leqeux.

    Collaros may be back for the bowl game, but both guys have been prone to throw picks this season.

    Collaros threw eight interceptions in seven full games, and Lequex threw five interceptions in the other five games. That interception total of 12 ranks Cincinnati 70th in the nation in number of picks thrown.

    Hayward could have a big day in the defensive secondary against a turnover-prone passing attack from Cincinnati.

    He also has excelled this season in making sure tackles, racking up 54 tackles and seven tackles for a loss on the year. He even has two kick returns and five offensive rushes on the year.

    Look for several big tackles, at least one interception, plenty of defended and deflected passes, and potentially some offensive and special teams looks for Hayward in this matchup.

Jaye Howard, DL, Florida

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    Senior Jaye Howard had a slow start to the 2011 season. He made very few big plays, and like most of the Gator defense this season, he underwhelmed.

    However, in the last five games of the year, the big 6-3, 303-pounder emerged as a play maker and began to shine.

    On the season Howard has two fumble recoveries and 60 tackles, including 8.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. Much of these stats came in late-season games against bowl teams Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Florida State.

    Now, in his last game as a Gator, Howard can really fill up the stat book and continue with his positive late-season momentum.

    Florida plays Ohio State in the Gator Bowl on January 2nd, and the Buckeyes have struggled in pass protection all season long.

    As a matter of fact, Ohio State ranks 116th in the nation in sacks allowed, giving up an unbelievable 40 sacks on the season.

    The Buckeye offensive line has been very poor throughout the year, giving opposing defenses open access to the Ohio State backfield.

    This will give Howard every opportunity to get to the Buckeye running backs and quarterback all game long.

    Look for a big day from the big senior.