The SEC finished 6-3 overall in the bowl games, and one of those losses was indeed the LSU Tigers coming at the hands of Alabama; so, we will only say two losses for the purpose of arguing with your fellow Big Tenners or Pac-12ers.
Hindsight’s 20-20, but here are the bowl games ranked from worst to first:
8. Liberty Bowl – Cincinnati 31, Vanderbilt 24: The fact that Vanderbilt lost makes this game the worst bowl for the SEC. The Commodores had a chance to pull off a win and really build on all that momentum in the off-season. However, the Dores could not get it done in Nashville. It was a good game, but it was a game that Vanderbilt knows they should have won. They will, however, carry their season’s momentum over into 2012.
7. Music City Bowl – Mississippi State 23, Wake Forest 17: I was truly expecting this game to be worse that the final outcome. I was really expecting the Bulldogs to thrash the Demon-Deacons, who hail from the ACC; however, that didn’t happen, but they did pull off the victory which was more important. The fact is Mississippi State just wasn’t very good this year, and the offense absolutely regressed from a year ago, namely because Chris Relf regressed as a quarterback.
6. Chick-fil-A Bowl – Auburn 43, Virginia 24: I give Auburn many props for this victory because of all the turmoil that went on within their program leading up to this game. First, defensive coordinator Ted Roof left for UCF. Then, Gene Chizik announced Mike Dyer was suspended indefinitely and would not play in the bowl game. Lastly, Gus Malzhan accepted the head coaching position at Arkansas State, but he did coach in the bowl game. However, you know it had to be a distraction to the team and their preparation. Amidst all the turmoil, Auburn pulled out a memorable performance against an up-and-coming UVA team.
5. Gator Bowl – Florida 24, Ohio State 17: Just the mere fact that Ohio State loses again to an SEC team is absolutely awesome. This time, Will Muschamp is one up on Urban Meyer. The SEC is still undefeated against Ohio State. I truly hope this lasts forever.
4. Capital One Bowl – South Carolina 30, Nebraska 13: South Carolina, Steve Spurrier and Connor Shaw put a Nebraska-sized beat down on the Cornhuskers. Shaw delivered his best performance yet, and the Ole Ball Coach has given South Carolina its first ever 11-win season. It caps off a truly remarkable year by the Gamecocks, and they have a ton of players and talent returning in 2012.
3. Cotton Bowl – Arkansas 29, Kansas State 16: Heading into this game, I thought Arkansas would rev up that offensive engine and roll over the Wildcats around late in the second to third quarter. However, Kansas State made it very tough on the Hogs. Their defense was surprisingly stout, and if not for a punt return touchdown from Joe Adams, Arkansas might not have gotten much momentum at all. This was truly a great game to watch as an SEC fan and as a Hogs fan.
2. Outback Bowl – Michigan State 33, Georgia 30: This was indeed a collapse of the Dawg Nation in Tampa. The Bulldogs took the 16-0 lead at halftime, and fell apart in the second half. The players got tight in the second half, and the coaching decisions were so bad they rivaled Les Miles not pulling Jordan Jefferson for Jarrett Lee bad. Even though the Dawgs lost amidst Mark Richt’s terrible decision making, this was a great game that went into triple overtime. Georgia just could not get the victory.
1. BCS National Championship Game – Alabama 21, LSU 0: Okay, I realize this game was boring for the rest of the country; however, to have two SEC teams in the national championship is ridiculous. Oh and if the BCS executives decide to have a plus-one system in the coming future, it sets up the SEC to have many more of these matchups to decide who takes home the crystal ball. The single most memorable aspect of the SEC bowl season was the dominance of Alabama’s defense. Could it be the best ever in college football? I think so.