Before the SEC kicked off its 2012-13 bowl season, we ranked the games in terms of sexiness and star power. The SEC did win its seventh national championship in a row, but the conference had some real duds, too, losing three games. Much like last year, the SEC finished 6-3 in bowl games.
The SEC is 73-50 in bowl games from ‘98-‘12, and it has 16 more bowl wins and more bowl bids than any other conference during that period.
Of the five major conferences – ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC – only the SEC has a winning bowl mark over the past 15 seasons.
Hindsight’s always 20-20, but here are the bowl games, ranked worst to first:
9. Gator Bowl: Northwestern 34, Miss State 20
The worst and most boring bowl performance was Mississippi State getting hammered by Northwestern. Everyone knew going in that MSU was the likeliest team of the nine to lose, and indeed they did not disappoint their doubters. Tyler Russell’s four interceptions was the worst performance of anyone of any of the bowls, and it started literally from the first snap with a pick-six. MSU’s defense couldn’t slow down the spread attack by the Wildcats, either. Northwestern racked up 357 total yards and 161 rushing yards against MSU’s veteran unit. Losing five of the last six games is a bad way to end the season, and they ended it with a fitting loss to a Big Ten team.
8. Sugar Bowl: Louisville 33, Florida 23
While MSU’s performance was just awful, Florida’s could be considered equally unimpressive. Taking nothing away from UL and Teddy Bridewater, the Gators forgot to get off the bus. And literally from the opening snap, Florida’s game plan went down the drain. Hell, I don’t know if they even had a game plan the way Jeff Driskel came out throwing to forgotten wide receiver Andre Debose. Florida had a month to prepare for Louisville, and they came out and threw a pass the first play to a receiver who hadn’t played in two months. Come on. The Gators managed to make it interesting late in the game because Louisville went all prevent on defense and let Driskel complete a few passes.
7. Compass Bowl: Ole Miss 38, Pittsburgh 17
Ole Miss continued their hot streak by thumping Pitt in Birmingham, as Bo Wallace continues to be the streakiest player in the SEC. He looked so good on his first two touchdown passes, to only look below average in his next two interceptions. But it was only fitting the Rebels ended with a win to complete the biggest turnaround in the SEC for 2012. The Rebels, not Bulldogs, have sole possession of all momentum in the state of Mississippi in January.
6. Music City Bowl: Vanderbilt 38, NC State 24
All we heard about leading up to the game was NC State QB Mike Glennon’s first-round draft status. But he completely looked like a freshman, taking shots down the field like he didn’t care at all…and Mel Kiper still thinks Glennon is a first-rounder. The Dores picked him off three times and forced five total turnovers in their rout. The 14-point difference was not indicative to just how lopsided this game really was, and the Dores finished the season ranked for the first time since 1938.
5. Capital One Bowl: Georgia 45, Nebraska 31
Taylor Martinez mouthing off before and after the Capital One Bowl was Nebraska’s real highlight. He compared UGA to a Big Ten defense before the game, and after it he still talked about how the Big Ten has more talent than the SEC, after Georgia’s ‘Big Ten’ defense shut the Huskers down in the second half. And all Aaron Murray did was light up the country’s top pass defense for five touchdowns and over 400 yards through the air. Jarvis Jones also broke David Pollack’s sack record against Martinez, too. Thanks for playing, Nebraska.
4. Chick-fil-A Bowl: Clemson 25, LSU 24
While LSU didn’t play their best football game, obviously, the way this game was back and forth was fun to watch. The way Les Miles called passing plays in the waning minutes was like a bad drama scene from The Bachelor playing out before our eyes, as we asked ourselves ‘Is this real life?’ I’m sure it gave LSU fans a heart attack, and it certainly doesn’t give the Tigers any momentum heading into 2013. But Clemson winning the game on the last drive and the ballsy play of Tajh Boyd made for must-watch TV. Overall, it was a thrilling game.
3. Outback Bowl: South Carolina 33, Michigan 28
Not only was this a great game overall the way it back and fourth in the second half, but we witnessed ‘The Hit’ of the 2013 season on the first day of the year. While Jadeveon Clowney’s hit and fumble changed the momentum of the game, and Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson combined for four touchdowns through the air to lead the offense. Thompson replaced the injured Shaw on the last drive and threw the winning touchdown with 11 seconds left. It was a thriller in Tampa.
2. Cotton Bowl: Texas A&M 41, Oklahoma 13
The Cotton Bowl ratings surged, thanks to Johnny Manziel and the sexiest offense in the South. Manziel torched Oklahoma’s very average defense and had everyone except Tide fans asking if they are the best team in the country. Manziel racked up 516 total yards and four touchdowns, and the Aggies’ defense made Oklahoma and Landry Jones look Big Ten-esque. We tip our hat to you, Big Game Bob.
1. National Championship: Alabama 42, Notre Dame 14
And at no surprise, the top game in all the land was Alabama thumping Notre Dame. I mean it wasn’t even close. In fact, the game was over in the first quarter, and Irish fans can’t even blame the refs for Manti Te’o’s missed tackles. UND hadn’t allowed a drive over 75 yards the entire season, and Bama rolled out with an 80-yard drive on their first possession. Me, you and every Irish fan knew it was over right then and that UND was outclassed and in another world.
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