Thursday, December 13, 2012
Best case/worst case: SEC bowls
By Chris Low
The SEC was 5-2 in bowl games a year ago, which includes Alabama's 21-0 win against LSU in an all-SEC affair in the BCS title game.
Can the SEC better that mark this season? We’ll start to find out Dec. 31 when Vanderbilt takes on NC State in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.
Here’s a look at the best-case/worst-case scenarios for all nine SEC teams this bowl season:
Best case: The stakes are once again sky-high for the Crimson Tide. With a win over Notre Dame in the Discover BCS National Championship, they claim their third outright national title in the past four years, which hasn’t been done since Notre Dame’s run in the 1940s.
Worst case: The Irish clamp down on the Tide defensively, and Alabama simply can’t move the ball in a loss that snaps the SEC’s streak of national championships at six in a row.
Best case: The Gators win their first BCS bowl game since 2009 with a blowout win over Louisville in the Allstate Sugar Bowl and head into next season as perhaps the team to beat in the SEC.
Worst case: Some of the same offensive problems that plagued the Gators throughout the season flare up again, and they suffer the humiliation of losing to a Big East team.
Best case: A win against Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl gives the Bulldogs their first 12-win season since 2002 when they won 13 and helps ease the pain from their gut-wrenching 32-28 loss to Alabama in the SEC championship game.
Worst case: The Bulldogs suffer from a serious hangover after their SEC championship game loss and, for the second straight year, end the season with back-to-back losses.
Best case: Quarterback Zach Mettenberger continues his hot streak to end the season, and LSU blows past Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl to win 11 games -- the sixth time in eight seasons that Les Miles would have won at least 11 games.
Worst case: LSU gives up too many big plays on defense and simply can’t stop Clemson’s high-powered offense in a loss that dampens an otherwise solid season.
Best case: The Bulldogs shore up their holes on defense and take down Northwestern in the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl to win nine games for the second time in three years.
Worst case: Picking up where they left off in their disappointing loss to Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, the Bulldogs suffer their fifth loss in six games to put an ugly bow on a season that started with so much promise.
Best case: Hugh Freeze caps a terrific first season in Oxford with Ole Miss’ first winning record since 2009 and a bowl victory over Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl. The ghosts of that 16-game SEC losing streak are purged forever.
Worst case: Despite all the progress in Year 1 under Freeze, the Rebels can’t finish the game and lose another close one in the fourth quarter, ensuring their third straight losing season.
Best case: The Gamecocks close the season with their fifth straight win to get to 11 wins for the second straight year thanks to a sack-filled victory over Michigan in the Outback Bowl.
Worst case: The bowl plague returns, and South Carolina goes back to its wretched postseason ways of the past, losing its fourth bowl game in the past five years.
Best case: The Aggies complete a dream first season in the SEC by beating up old Big 12 foe Oklahoma in the AT&T Cotton Bowl to win their 11th game and send a final resounding message that they’re going to be a serious player in the SEC.
Worst case: After all the Johnny Football hype that goes along with winning the Heisman Trophy, Johnny Manziel finally plays like a redshirt freshman. The Aggies can’t stop the Sooners in a disappointing season-ending loss in Cowboys Stadium.
Best case: In just two seasons, James Franklin guides the Commodores to their first nine-win season since 1915 with a win against NC State in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl -- Vanderbilt's third bowl win.
Worst case: After six straight wins to close the regular season, the Commodores can't get it back against the Wolfpack after the layoff and squander their chance to get their only win of the season over a team that finished the regular season with a winning record.