Around the SEC - Bowl Predictions

By Cole FrederickBy Cole Frederick

Friday, Jan. 3

AT&T Cotton Bowl

Oklahoma State (10-2) vs. Missouri (11-2). The Cowboys nearly won the Big 12 championship but a loss to Oklahoma ended their BCS hopes in the last game of the season. Missouri’s second season in the SEC was much better than its first, as the Tigers won the SEC East. Missouri lost to Auburn in the SEC championship game. Both teams have offenses that are capable of scoring 40-50 points, and this game might come down to the last possession. Prediction: Oklahoma State 44, Missouri 41. 

Discover Orange Bowl

Clemson (10-2) vs. Ohio State (12-1). Although the Tigers lost badly to Florida State and rival South Carolina, Clemson had another successful season under head coach Dabo Sweeney. Ohio State went undefeated in the regular season for the second consecutive season but Urban Meyer’s team lost in the Big 10 championship to Michigan State. This is another matchup where both defenses will be almost nonexistent. Prediction: Ohio State 48, Clemson 45. 

Saturday, Jan. 4

BBVA Compass Bowl

Vanderbilt (8-4) vs. Houston (8-4). The Commodores finished 8-4 for the second straight season under James Franklin and have an opportunity to pick up their ninth win against the Cougars. Vanderbilt finished third in the SEC East. It was the first time the ‘Dores finished ahead of Georgia, Tennessee and Florida in the same season. Houston went 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the American Ath-etic Conference, and the Cougars are looking for their second bowl win under coach Tony Levine. Prediction: Vanderbilt 26, Houston 20. 

Sunday, Jan. 5 Bowl 

Arkansas State (7-5) vs. Ball State (10-2). The Red Wolves won another Sun Belt championship but saw its coach leave for another job after one season. Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss), Gus Malzahn (Auburn), and now Brian Harsin (Boise State) left Jonesboro after one season. Ball State had a successful season in the MAC, coming just short of playing for a conference championship. Prediction: Ball State 37, Arkansas State 31. 

Sunday, Jan. 6

Vizio BCS National Championship

Florida State (13-0) vs. Auburn (12-1). In the final BCS National Championship game, the Florida State Seminoles take on the Auburn Tigers. Heisman trophy winner and Hueytown native Jameis Winston leads the Seminoles, while Heisman finalist Tre Mason and quarterback Nick Marshall lead the Tigers. Florida State played in the first BCS championship game in 1998, losing to Tennessee. Auburn is looking to continue the SEC’s streak of seven straight national titles.

The Seminoles dominated opponents all season. Their closest game was 14 points against Boston College earlier in the year. They beat Clemson, the best team they played this season, 51-14 on the road. Coach Jimbo Fisher’s team is balanced offensively and has one of the best defenses in the country. Florida State is the only undefeated team in the country and enters the title game as 8.5-point favorites over Auburn.

A year after finishing 3-9, Auburn is looking to complete the biggest turnaround in college football history. Gus Malzahn has led the Tigers to the title game in his first season as head coach, and it has been one of the more memorable seasons in Auburn football history.

Early in the year, Auburn struggled to defeat Washington State, Mississippi State and Ole Miss. The Tigers needed a last second pass to defeat Mississippi State and lost by two touchdowns to LSU. Auburn then went on the road and defeated Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies. Against rivals Georgia and Alabama, the Tigers had back-to-back incredible finishes. A tipped Hail Mary pass won the Georgia game, while a missed field goal returned for a touchdown won the Iron Bowl. Auburn defeated Missouri in the SEC title game, 59-42.

Auburn’s biggest strength is running the ball, but the Tigers will have a tough task against the Seminole defense. Florida State does nearly everything well, and the Tigers’ defensive line has to apply pressure on Winston. Auburn’s defense must force turnovers and the Tiger offense has to play mistake-free. The Seminoles have yet to play a close game all year, while Auburn has been involved with several nailbiters. If the game is close entering the fourth quarter, Auburn will have the advantage. Prediction: Auburn 35, Florida State 31.

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