SEC Football: Projecting Every 2013-14 SEC Bowl Game
SEC Bowl Projections
SEC Football had another fabulous year of postseason action, with a 6-3 mark after the 2012 regular season. The SEC picked up big wins in even bigger games. Alabama steamrolled Notre Dame right out of the gate in the BCS National Championship, and Johnny Manziel sent football crazies into a frenzy after one of the best performances in Cotton Bowl history. The SEC made yet another bold statement to the rest of the country, losing each bowl game by an average of eight points. Can the SEC do an encore, or maybe win an eighth straight national championship by even going undefeated through the bowl lineup?
Division one's toughest conference has enough quality teams to handle that task. The eight national championships have come from schools such as Florida, Auburn, Alabama and LSU. Teams like South Carolina, Texas A&M and Georgia that haven't won a crystal ball, could navigate themselves into the BCS Championship Game in any other major conference in America this season. Also, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and newly adopted Missouri, who have never won the SEC Championship game, would be tough outs right now for any opponent outside the SEC, and would make a bowl game in any conference.
This season the rich have gotten richer. The SEC is overall in their best stretch of football in the conference's history. All 14 members are more than capable of etching six wins for bowl eligibility this year. The conference has 10 guaranteed bowl tie-ins for the Non-BCS, with a spot in the BCS as well. See whether or not your favorite SEC team will go bowling during the holidays.
Missouri (6-6) Advocare V100 Bowl
Projected Matchup: vs. Georgia Tech (ACC#7)
All Missouri can ask for after a harsh opening to the SEC in 2012 is a little bit of improvement. That will definitely be the narrative with an injury-free squad in 2013. Head coach Gary Pinkel has just had back-to-back losing seasons once in his career. Pinkel might be walking a fine line in 2013.
Look for receiver Dorial Green-Beckham to offset his poor freshman season with an even better one as Mizzou's primary target. With what transpired last season, a berth in Shreveport should be more familiar for Mizzou fans than a losing season under Pinkel.
Tennessee (6-6) BBVA Compass Bowl
Projected Matchup: vs. Central Florida (AAC#4)
Nobody has five strong on the offensive line the way Butch Jones does approaching this season. With tackles Antonio Richardson and Ju’Wuan James, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what Jones and staff want to predicate themselves on in their first season in Knoxville.
Nathan Peterman and Justin Worley present a healthy competition, the fate of a bowl game will come down to whoever emerges as the starting quarterback. This team is on the doorstep of bowl eligibility. Tennessee will need to win two out of the last three games to Auburn, Vanderbilt and Kentucky. The Volunteers should punch through the door at a 6-6 mark.
Ole Miss (7-5) Autozone Liberty Bowl
Projected Matchup: vs. Marshall (C-USA#1)
The excitement centered on this program is at a whole new high. Not only did Hugh Freeze contend for a bowl game with a team that won two games the year before, he also brought into Oxford, a recruiting class that is second to none in school history. The Rebels have the ingredients on defense to wreck havoc in the SEC West.
The keys to this season rest on the shoulders of quarterback Bo Wallace. Wallace totaled 17 interceptions on 22 scores last season. Wallace must progress in year two, even after having shoulder surgery in the offseason. Put them down for seven wins, nothing else. Vanderbilt, Texas, Alabama, LSU and a heartbreaker in the Egg Bowl will be the story in 2013.
Arkansas (7-5) Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Projected Matchup: vs. North Carolina (ACC#6)
There was no other coaching change that shook the SEC landscape harder than Bret Bielema’s departure from Madison, WI., to Fayetteville, AR. Arkansas A.D Jeff Long swung for the fences and landed himself a grand slam.
The strength of the team is senior leadership. All-SEC first team defensive end Chris Smith, safety Eric Bennett and center Travis Swanson all have three years of experience, and were a part of a 21-win plateau under Bobby Petrino. A 4-8 season from last season should add fuel to the fire with a coaching staff that isn't going anywhere. The Hogs will hold serve in their first four games: Louisiana-Lafayette, Samford, Southern Miss and Rutgers, with toss-up wins over Auburn and Mississippi State. Don't forget a South Carolina upset at Donald W. Reynolds.
Vanderbilt (8-4) Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl
Projected Matchup: vs. Michigan State (Big Ten#4)
Winning 15 games in a two year span at Vanderbilt, and getting to back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history, the last two seasons still draw a yawn from the majority of football crazies.
Vanderbilt returns eight starters on defense and a absolute stud on offense, receiver Jordan Matthews. The Commodores realistically are set up to win eight games, if they can get past Ole Miss in Week 1. Vanderbilt will go to its first ever New Years day bowl this season, and have a chance to quite possibly win double digit games for the first time in school history.
South Carolina (9-3) Chick-fil-A Bowl
Projected Matchup: vs. Virginia Tech (ACC#2)
South Carolina probably has the toughest first four game slate in the SEC: North Carolina and Vanderbilt at Columbia, while traveling to Georgia and UCF, both with extremely experienced quarterbacks. That stretch by itself will cause South Carolina to miss out on their third straight 11 win season.
Connor Shaw brings credibility to their quarterback position, but their offense is lacking big playmakers like Ace Sanders, besides Mike Davis and Bruce Ellington. South Carolina knows what they're getting from the strength of the team's defensive line. They have the best player in the country hands down, Jadeveon Clowney, with Chaz Sutton on his other side, and also Kelcy Quarles and J.T. Surratt in the interior.
Florida (9-3) Outback Bowl
Projected Matchup: vs. Nebraska (Big Ten#3)
Florida loses seven starters on the defensive side. Will it matter? Absolutely not. This defense still gets back Dominique Easley and Dante Fowler, followed by the best cornerback duo in the country, Purifoy and Roberson. They will be even stingier against the nation's elite on the road, LSU and South Carolina. It's up to Jeff Driskel and that great running game to take advantage.
The Gators didn't allow more than 250 passing yards at Ben Hill Griffin in 2012. They shouldn't even allow 100 this season; have you look at their home schedule this season? You hear that Jameis Winston? The last thing on Gator fans minds should be Taylor Martinez trying to do the Bridgewater impersonation. Gators finish in the top ten again.
Texas A&M (9-3) AT&T Cotton Bowl
Projected Matchup: vs. TCU (Big 12#2)
Johnny Manziel has left A&M in the dark for now. Manziel, whether anybody likes it or not, will play the whole duration of A&M's schedule, but it won't create a flare like last season. It will be up to defensive coordinator Mark Snyder to continue to do one of the best coaching jobs in America, as he did in 2012.
The Aggies defense has stellar young talent returning, but it's hard to trust them against LSU and Alabama. The team will likely not have the services of De’Shavor Everrett or Floyd Raven, both strengths in the secondary for some time. Aggies return to AT&T Stadium for the third time in four years, playing a 10-2 old Southwest conference nemesis.
LSU (10-2) Capital One Bowl
Projected Matchup: vs. Northwestern (Big Ten#2)
The SEC media will get another thing wrong in 2013. The LSU Tigers, picked third in the SEC West, will climb to No. 2 behind Alabama when the season unfolds. LSU will lose on the road with Georgia and Alabama; both will be this year's two SEC BCS teams.
If running back Jeremy Hill is suspended for most of the season, it should not determine any games for LSU; Alfred Blue and backup Kenny Hilliard is cut in the same mode as Hill. LSU begins strong with TCU, and begins a surge, taking down both Florida and Texas A&M at home. LSU finishes in the top five of the BCS when the season concludes.
Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1) Allstate Sugar Bowl
Projected Matchup: vs. Oklahoma State (BCS At-Large)
A shot for back-to-back-to-back national titles, for the first time in the BCS era, goes abrupt in their rematch with Georgia in Atlanta. The Tide gets shocked by Georgia after a 2008 SEC Championship Tim Tebow-like performance from Aaron Murray. Murray guts it out against this year's Heisman Trophy winner A.J McCarron.
Alabama's offense will be more fixated on McCarron's arm than years past. Alabama will spread it across the yard, between the nation's best group of receivers, plus T.J. Yeldon out of the backfield. Doug Nussmeier probably will pursue balance, so McCarron should finally get 3,000 passing yards in his best overall year as a senior. Alabama's 2013 conclusion will be an interesting matchup in the Superdome after what transpired two years ago between the Pokes and Tide.
Georgia (12-1) BCS National Championship
Projected Matchup: vs. Stanford (BCS #2)
The Bulldogs get a rematch with Alabama on Dec. 7. Both teams will be ranked in the top three, with the winner going to Pasadena, while the loser gets a consolation prize to New Orleans. In an upset, the 11-1 Bulldogs will take down an undefeated Alabama team in Atlanta, with a huge contribution coming from “Gurshall.”
Georgia is just consistent enough on defense in big games like Clemson and LSU to make it into the whole bowl of wax with the nation's second best team, Stanford. Georgia and Stanford will never be the pretty duel between Ohio State or Alabama, or even Alabama and Oregon; it will be a boring, old school, "slug you out" claw and scratch contest.