In & around SEC football: Championship game recap, postseason outlook

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By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent 

SEC championship recap
Georgia cruised to its first SEC championship since 2017 with a 50-30 win over LSU. The undefeated Bulldogs are the top seed in the college playoff rankings as they look to defend their national title. Quarterback Stetson Bennett was razor sharp against the Tigers in completing 23 of 29 passes for 274 yards and four touchdowns. Tight end Brock Bowers caught six passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. Kendall Milton added 113 yards on the ground on only eight carries as Georgia built a 35-10 halftime lead. After LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels went down with an injury in the first half, backup Garrett Nussmeier threw two touchdown passes in the second half.
Week 15 SEC Rankings
1. Georgia (13-0, 9-0)
2. Alabama (10-2, 6-2)
3. Tennessee (10-2, 6-2)
4. LSU (9-4, 6-3)
5. Mississippi State (8-4, 4-4)
6. Ole Miss (8-4, 4-4)
7. South Carolina (8-4, 4-4)
8. Kentucky (7-5, 3-5)
9. Florida (6-6, 3-5)
10. Missouri (6-6, 3-5)
11. Arkansas (6-6, 3-5)
12. Auburn (5-7, 2-6)
13. Texas A&M (5-7, 2-6)
14. Vanderbilt (5-7, 2-6)
SEC Postseason Preview (Week 13: 6-3; season: 76-21)
Georgia is the only team from the SEC to make the College Football Playoffs. The top-ranked team in the country, the defending national champions must go through Ohio State and the winner of TCU/Michigan to repeat. Alabama is No. 5 in the rankings and just missed out on the four-team field. The playoff is expanding in 2024, so Alabama and Tennessee would both make it in that scenario. Their consolation prize for this season is an invitation to a prestigious bowl game outside of the playoffs.
Alabama travels to New Orleans to take on Kansas State in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. It is unclear whether juniors Bryce Young or Will Anderson will participate, and several Alabama players have already entered the transfer portal. The Crimson Tide is currently favored by 3.5 points over the Wildcats.
Tennessee finished No. 6 and earned a trip to the Orange Bowl to face No. 7 Clemson, which won the ACC. The Volunteers are without star quarterback Hendon Hooker, whose season came to an end with a knee injury against South Carolina a few weeks ago. Clemson is currently a 7-point favorite.
Florida is a 10.5-point underdog against Oregon State in the Las Vegas Bowl. The Gators will be without quarterback Anthony Richardson, who opted out of the bowl game. Missouri will face Wake Forest in Gasparilla Bowl, where the Demon Deacons are favored by one. Kansas and Arkansas square off in the Liberty Bowl, with Arkansas a 3-point favorite over the 6-6 Jayhawks. Ole Miss travels to Texas to take on Texas Tech, with the Rebels installed as a 3.5-point favorite.
South Carolina is one of the biggest surprises in the conference this year. The Gamecocks finished 8-4 with massive wins over Tennessee and Clemson, losses that likely kept both teams out of the playoffs. The Gamecocks were rewarded with a Gator Bowl matchup against Notre Dame, where they are 3-point underdogs.
Kentucky faces Iowa in the Music City Bowl. UK quarterback Will Levis will sit out the game to prepare for the NFL Draft. Iowa is favored by one point. This game has the lowest projected total of any bowl game at 31.5, as oddsmakers believe this will be a defensive slugfest.
Mississippi State and Illinois will meet in the ReliaQuest Bowl as Fighting Illi-ni coach Bret Bielema takes on a former SEC West rival. The Bulldogs are currently favored by one point. SEC West winner LSU faces Big 10 West winner Purdue in the Citrus Bowl, where the Tigers are favored by 10.5 points.
Georgia is a 6.5-point favorite over Ohio State in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, so the Bulldogs will not have to travel far for the first playoff matchup. The game will feature a pair of Heisman finalists at quarterback between the Bulldogs’ Stetson Bennett and the Buckeyes’ C.J. Stroud.

 

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