In & around SEC football – bowl game previews & predictions


Saturday, December 27

Military Bowl 

Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati (-2.5). The last time Tommy Tuberville and Frank Beamer coached against each other in a bowl game, Tuberville’s 2004 Auburn Tigers squeezed by Beamer’s Ho-kies, 16-13. Beamer gets his revenge 10 years later. Prediction: Virginia Tech 20, Cincinnati 17. 

Hyundai Sun Bowl

Arizona State vs. Duke (+7.5). Arizona State was ranked in the top 10 late in the season, but losses to Oregon State and Arizona derailed their season. Duke has a chance to win 10 games in back-to-back seasons under David Cutcliffe. Prediction: Arizona State 41, Duke 38. 

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Boston College vs. Penn State (+2.5). This game will be played in Yankee Stadium, and the score might resemble a baseball score. Prediction: Boston College 13, Penn State 10. 

National University Holiday Bowl 

Nebraska vs. USC (-7). Nebraska is in the middle of a coaching change, and USC showed some promise in a season-ending rout of Notre Dame. Prediction: USC 34, Nebraska 20. 

Monday, December 29

AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Texas A&M vs. West Virginia (-3.5). Defense is optional in this matchup between two potent offenses. The Aggies won seven games this year, but their dominating win over South Carolina in the season opener probably elevated expectations higher than they should have been. This is still a very young team, one that could really benefit from a bowl win. Prediction: Texas A&M 48, West Virginia 45. 

Russell Athletic Bowl 

Oklahoma vs. Clemson (+3.5). Neither of these teams had particularly great seasons, but Oklahoma’s year was the most disappointing in college football. The Sooners were ranked in the top five in the preseason but lost four games and were eliminated from title contention halfway through the season. Prediction: Oklahoma 34, Clemson 30. 

AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl

Arkansas vs. Texas (-6). It took almost the whole season, but Arkansas finally won an SEC game. In fact, the Razorbacks won two league games in a row by a combined score of 47-0. A bowl win and winning record would be considered a huge success for Bret Bielema’s squad. Prediction: Arkansas 21, Texas 17. 

Tuesday, December 30

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl 

Notre Dame vs. LSU (-7.5). LSU was one of the youngest teams in the SEC this year, and their youth was on display throughout most of the season. The Tigers ended the year with a big win over Texas A&M and have a chance to build on that success against a stumbling Notre Dame team in Nashville. Prediction: LSU 17, Notre Dame 13. 

Belk Bowl 

Georgia vs. Louisville (+7). Not only did Georgia miss the SEC title game but the Bulldogs lost to rival Georgia Tech in heartbreaking fashion. Georgia needs Nick Chubb to put up big numbers against Louis-ville – whose defense is coordinated by former Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham – and Hu-ston Mason will need to be efficient in play action passes. Prediction: Georgia 27, Louisville 23. 

Foster Farms Bowl 

Maryland vs. Stanford (-14). Stanford’s physicality will prove to be too much for Maryland. Prediction: Stanford 23, Maryland 10. 

Wednesday, Dec. 31

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

Ole Miss vs. TCU (-3.5). The Rebels were impressive against rival Mississippi State, but TCU is a more complete team than the Bulldogs. Ole Miss opened the season in the Georgia Dome and will need Bo Wallace to play a much better game than he did in the opener. Evan Engram played one of the best games of his career against Mississippi State and has to continue to elevate his play in the absence of star receiver LaQuon Treadwell. Prediction: TCU 35, Ole Miss 33.

VIZIO Fiesta Bowl 

Boise State vs. Arizona (-3.5). Boise State won one of the most entertaining college football games of all time in the Fiesta Bowl in 2007 and certainly is capable of beating Arizona as well. The Wildcats were blown out by Oregon in the Pac-12 title game but still had a very successful season. Prediction: Arizona 32, Boise State 27. 

Capital One Orange Bowl

Mississippi State vs. Georgia Tech (+7). The Bulldogs had an outside chance of making the playoffs had they beaten Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, but an Orange Bowl berth is still impressive for Dan Mullen’s team. Georgia Tech’s offense is difficult to prepare for, but Mississippi State has had nearly a month to get ready for the Ramblin’ Wreck’s triple option attack. Prediction: Mississippi State 30, Georgia Tech 27. 

Thursday, January 1

Outback Bowl

Auburn vs. Wisconsin (+6.5). Given its preseason rank, an 8-4 finish was a disappointment for Auburn. Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson was fired as a result of the Tigers’ poor defensive play throughout the season. Perhaps the best part of Auburn’s season was the hiring of Will Muschamp as defensive coordinator. The Tigers haven’t had a great defense since Muschamp left in 2007. Muschamp won’t coordinate the defense during the bowl game, which could be problematic considering the Tigers are facing Heisman finalist Melvin Gordon. Prediction: Auburn 38, Wisconsin 31. 

Goodyear Cotton Bowl 

Michigan State vs. Baylor (-3). This game pits the Bears’ explosive offense versus the Spartans’ stalwart defense. It’s a contrast of style, and whichever team controls the tempo will have the advantage. Prediction: Michigan State 31, Baylor 28. 

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl

Missouri vs. Minnesota (+5.5). Both Missouri and Minnesota exceeded expectations this year. Gary Pinkel and Jerry Kill should be up for Coach of the Year in their respective conferences. Prediction: Missouri 24, Minnesota 20. 

Rose Bowl Game Presented By Northwestern Mutual

Oregon vs. Florida State (+9). In the first semifinal of the inaugural College Football Playoffs, the last two Heisman trophy winners will square off against each other. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota have both had stellar college careers, and the Seminoles are riding a 29-game winning streak. Expect a lot of points between these two high-powered offenses. Prediction: Florida State 38, Oregon 35. 

Allstate Sugar Bowl

Alabama vs. Ohio State (-9). Nick Saban and Urban Meyer had some very memorable games when Meyer was at Florida, and they get another chance to go at each other on an even bigger stage. What Urban Meyer has accomplished this season has been incredibly impressive in leading the Buckeyes in the playoffs despite losing two starting quarterbacks who were both Heisman candidates. Cardale Jones will start against Alabama and might be in for a rude awakening against the Crimson Tide defense. Nick Saban also has submitted yet another dynamic coaching performance and has Alabama in very familiar territory. As long as Blake Sims plays turnover-free, Alabama should have no problem scoring on Ohio State’s defense. Prediction: Alabama 35, Ohio State 13. 

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