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SEC Bowl Season Preview

(Photo: Dale Zanine, USA TODAY Sports)

With the regular season now over, it is finally time for Bowl Season! Eleven out of 14 teams from the SEC will be participating in bowls as the conference looks to prove its dominance once again. Below are short previews for all 11 matchups. Current odds will also be given for each game.

Vanderbilt (-3.5) vs. Baylor

Why the Commodores Will Win: Vanderbilt ended the season on a very strong note as they won three of their last four games and demolished Tennessee in their last game. They managed to play all of Kentucky, Florida, and Notre Dame within 10 points and I think that means at least something.

Running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn is good enough to give any average team like Baylor fits. Expect Vandy to go to the ground early often. They will try and keep the ball away from the offense of the bears.

Plus, star wide receiver Jalen Hurd has been ruled out for this game and that’s a huge blow for Baylor. He is one of the best skill players on the entire team.

Why the Commodores Will Lose: Baylor has a nice advantage here considering that this is the Texas Bowl and Vanderbilt’s fans don’t travel all that great. This is basically a road game for the Commodores.

Plus, Derek Mason still has not won a bowl game during his tenure and there isn’t any one player on this team that is incredibly special. Despite being a tough team, Mason’s squad still is not all that talented. This a matchup between two teams without a single “great” win on the season. Anyone can win this one.

Prediction: Despite a favorable location for Baylor, I think that Vanderbilt should be favored by more. They simply have a better team and Baylor has lost two of their last three games. I’m taking the Commodores here.

Auburn (-4.5) vs. Purdue

Why the Tigers Will Win: Auburn has had some bad luck this season. They played an incredibly tough schedule, and to their credit they still managed to defeat Washington and Texas A&M despite losing five games.

Jarret Stidham had a bad year, but he still has a lot of talent. Also, Auburn by far has the better defense when compared with the Boilermakers. They have top level NFL talent in the trenches and it will show.

Why the Tigers Will Lose: Under Gus Malzahn Auburn is 1-4 in bowl games which is not great folks. After seeing how Auburn played in their bowl game last year against UCF, I don’t have much faith in this squad. Purdue has a much, much better head coach in Jeff Brohm who happens to be a wizard in preparing for bowl games. I’ve had the opportunity to cover during him during his time at WKU and I can guarantee that the Boilermakers will be ready to play.

Prediction: With Jeff Brohm announcing his return, I think Purdue will have a huge boost coming into this game. I feel much more confident in picking the Boilermakers here. They have the best offensive player on the field in Rondale Moore. He will be the difference maker.

No. 10 Florida (+7.5) vs. No. 7 Michigan

Why the Gators Will Win: Michigan is coming off one of the worst performances by any team so far this season. They were embarrassed in a way against Ohio State that some teams have an incredibly hard time coming back from. At times this year the Gators looked like a special team and they are very battle tested.

Why the Gators Will Lose: Michigan is straight up the better team. There is a real talented gap between these two teams. There is a reason why Florida is one of only two teams SEC not favored in their bowl game. Michigan just went through an entire schedule playing teams who play very similar to how the Gators play. This is just a bad matchup.

Prediction: I’m all over the Wolverines to win this game. There is a reason why a top-ten ranked SEC team is a touchdown underdog in a bowl game. Michigan has more talent across the board, and most importantly they have the better quarterback on their side in Shea Patterson. I don’t see the Gators winning this game.

South Carolina (-4) vs. Virginia                                                                                                                       

Why the Gamecocks Will Win: Much like with Michigan, I think that the Gamecocks have the better quarterback in this matchup, which is huge in bowl games. Plus, Virginia has lost three of their last four games which includes a loss to a very bad Georgia Tech team.

All of South Carolina’s losses this year have come against ranked foes in the SEC and ACC. They played a brutal schedule and still found a way to 7-5.

Why the Gamecocks Will Lose: Their best offensive skill player Deebo Samuel is sitting out this game to prepare for the NFL Draft. That is a very significant loss as Jake Bentley loves throwing to Samuel. Despite losing to several good teams, the only decent team they have beaten this year was Missouri by just two points.

Prediction: If Samuel was playing, I would be picking South Carolina here without question, but his absence will make things interesting. I’m still taking the Gamecocks here mostly because the ACC was terrible this year and Virginia is lucky to be here.

No. 23 Missouri (-7.5) vs. Oklahoma State

Why the Tigers Will Win: Missouri is on an absolute tear right now as they have won four straight games since losing to Kentucky by just one point. Quarterback Drew Lock turned his season around since then and he looks like a possible first round pick now. Plus, this is a bit of a mismatch considering that the Tigers have eight wins and the Cowboys were barely bowl eligible with six wins.

Why the Tigers Will Lose: Their defense is very suspect in my opinion. Despite some decent showings this year, Missouri is still ranked 51st overall in team defense. There will be a ton of offense and points in this game considering how good both teams are on that side of the bowl. In a shootout between less-than stellar defenses, anything can happen.

Prediction: While Missouri isn’t great on defense neither is Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are in a rebuilding year and this was a very strange bowl pairing. The Tigers are clearly the better team here and I think it would be a big upset if they lost. I’m going with Missouri here in a blowout win.

No. 19 Texas A&M (-4.5) vs. NC State

Why the Aggies Will Win: This is a matchup between the team that finished second in the SEC West and the team that finished third in the ACC Atlantic. That speaks for itself. Despite being 9-3, the only decent teams that NC State has beaten this year were 7-5 Boston College and Virginia.

Why the Aggies Will Lose: Despite the improved play of quarterback Kellen Mond this year, the better quarterback in this game is for sure NC State’s Ryan Finley who will be an early round draft pick. Plus, if the Aggies lose that would make them 8-5 on the year and Texas A&M lovessssss to finish 8-5 on the season.

Prediction: I’m on the Aggies here. Not only do they have the advantage a playing a decent ACC team, NC State’s best offensive skill player (heard this before?) Kelvin Harmon will be sitting out the bowl to prepare for the NFL Draft. Plus, do not forget that Jimbo Fisher has plenty of experience coaching against NC State. He will pull out a close, competitive win here.

No. 18 Mississippi State (-6.5) vs. Iowa

Why the Bulldogs Will Win: Admittedly, this is a boring matchup. These are two 8-4 teams who lost every one of their games in conference play. Both also play physical football anchored by a tough running game. With so many similarities it’s great for the Bulldogs that they have better talent from top to bottom. They have much better wins on the season than Iowa does

Why the Bulldogs Will Lose: Nick Fitzgerald is a tough quarterback and a great runner of the football. However, he just flat out stinks throwing the football and Iowa has the better quarterback in Nathan Stanley. Iowa could easily win this game if they can control the Bulldogs’ run game and force mistakes out of Fitzgerald.

Prediction: Mississippi State has been all over the place this year. And Iowa is used to playing teams like the Bulldogs. BUT, you aren’t going to believe this, the Hawkeye’s best offensive skill player (Noah Fant) is setting out this bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft. This is a tossup, but I’m going with Mississippi State.

No. 11 LSU (-7.5) vs. No. 8 UCF

Why the Tigers Will Win: This should be obvious to everyone, but LSU just has better talent from top to bottom. UCF has had a great year, but without their program changing quarterback (out for season due to injury) the talent level of the Knights is down. The Tigers should easily be able to win due to this unfortunate circumstance.

Why the Tigers Will Lose: One of their best defensive players in Greedy Williams is sitting this one out because (bet you can’t guess) he will be preparing for the NFL Draft. This could in part equalize the loss of Milton for the Knights. Plus, UCF has more to fight for as they want to prove to the college football world they were shafted when they did not make the playoff. Motivation like this is essential for bowl games.

Prediction: While UCF will be up to the challenge, don’t forget who is coaching LSU. Ed Orgeron always has his players ready to play, and this will be no different. If Milton was playing I would’ve went with the upset, but that isn’t the case so I’m going with the Tigers.

No. 14 Kentucky (+6) vs. No. 12 Penn State

Why the Wildcats Will Win: Josh Allen will be playing, and that is absolutely huge for the Wildcats. UK has been one of the best surprises in college football this year but that’s been for a reason. They are genuinely a good football team that has some impressive victories on the year. Also, they have straight up better top-tier talent than the Nittany Lions do.

Will the Wildcats Will Lose: Penn State has basically played teams like Kentucky all season long in the physical Big Ten so they will be ready for the Wildcats. No offense to Terry Wilson, but the quarterback matchup here between him and Trace McSorley easily goes to Penn State. I’m also confident that coach James Franklin will his team motivated and ready to go.

Prediction: Despite the Wildcats being almost a touchdown underdog, this is another tossup. In my opinion having Allen and Snell available is huge for Kenutucky. However, Mark Stoops has yet to win a bowl game at UK and with a quarterback mismatch like this I have to go with my gut and pick Penn State.

No. 5 Georgia (-11) vs. No. 15 Texas

Why the Bulldogs Will Win: Did you happen to see their performance against Alabama? This Georgia team is absolutely the better team here. This may even be a bigger mismatch than that Florida/Michigan game earlier. Kirby Smart’s team is both better on offense and defense than the Longhorns are.

Why the Bulldogs Will Lose: What will their motivation be heading into the matchup? They could be extremely down on themselves after narrowly missing the playoff. Or they could be motivated to show everyone they deserved to be there. It could either way, but it’s at the very least in doubt right now.

Prediction: Even if they aren’t motivated, I think Georgia will still win this game. This is just a complete mismatch once again in favor of the SEC. There were better teams ahead of Texas that would’ve made for a better game, but this is the one we got. I will be very, very surprised if Georgia losses here. It should be a big win.

No. 1 Alabama (-14) vs. No. 4 Oklahoma

Why the Crimson Tide Will Win: This is may just be the best college football team of our generation. That should be reason enough. Even after Georgia proved that Alabama can be beaten, they still couldn’t pull off the job. How can anyone expect a team with a defense as bad as Oklahoma’s to win?

Why the Crimson Tide Will Lose: Kyler Murray. That’s how the Crimson Tide could lose. Everyone knows that the best way to defeat Alabama is by having a great, athletic quarterback and that’s exactly what the Sooners have. Plus, Tua Tagovailoa is still banged up. He may be ready to go by then, but I am still worried about that ankle of his.

Prediction: Look, I know that Oklahoma’s defense is not good. However, I saw what they did against Georgia last year. Plus, Murray’s ability to run makes him even more dangerous than Baker was last season. With Tua’s ankle still being uncertain, I’m going with my only huge upset pick of all these bowl games. I think Murray is the perfect player to pull off this upset. I’m sure you all will let me know just how right I am in the comment section. Enjoy!

Prediction for the SEC’s Bowl Record: 7-4.

Article written by John Reecer

2 responses to “SEC Bowl Season Preview”

  1. CatsandPats

    Oklahoma better hope Tua isn’t playing, and Jalen Hurts goes down. That’s the only way I see them pulling off the upset. Defense wins championships and we all know the best defense resides annually in Tuscaloosa. Bring it whoever plays the SEC this bowl season!

  2. RondoTheDonThough

    SEC bowl wins over 7.5 on 5Dimes is +165. Alabama with two wins plus favored in nine of 11…hmm. Mortgage wager time!