1 record every SEC team could break in 2019 bowls
The 9 bowl games SEC teams have lined up over the holiday season (10 games if LSU beats Oklahoma to reach the National Championship Game) offer a lot.
Seniors have a final shot at glory, coaches have a chance to impress undecided recruits and fans have a chance to travel as a pack, usually to a warm-weather destination.
Also, sports information departments have a chance to update their schools’ record books one last time before they prepare next season’s media guides.
It’s worth remembering that bowl game statistics were not included in player or team totals until fairly recently, so some numbers are skewed. And the modern 12-game schedule, plus a 13th game for teams reaching a conference championship tilt, has helped the numbers pile up as well.
Still, a record is a record and some longstanding marks might come under threat throughout the SEC in the coming days.
So here is 1 record each SEC team could reach during bowl season.
In a season where junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was putting up mind-boggling numbers until he was injured (then injured again), it’s no surprise that his receivers would pop up on this list. DeVonta Smith has 13 touchdown catches this season, 3 short of the Crimson Tide’s single-season record set by Amari Cooper in 2014, and Smith could tie or break the mark with a huge game in the Citrus Bowl against Michigan. Smith will have Mac Jones throwing to him instead of Tagovailoa, but if the Iron Bowl is anything to go by, Bama can still move the ball just fine.
Seth Williams has been a pretty reliable receiver all season; he is the runaway team leader in receptions (55), yards (801) and touchdown catches (8). Those first 2 numbers are not going to approach any team records, but with an extremely productive game in the Outback Bowl against Minnesota, he could threaten that latter mark. The Auburn record for TD catches in a season is 12 by Terry Beasley in 1971 (Beasley is also 2nd in the record book with 11 in 1970). Catching 4 TD passes would be a bit un-Auburn-like in 2019; Bo Nix has had just 1 3-TD passing game, against Arkansas.
The offense has not quite gotten back to Spurrier-level production under coach Dan Mullen. But defense has been a different story. Florida has 3 shutouts, something even its national title teams never did. The shutouts have not come against stellar opposition — SEC East cellar-dweller Vanderbilt and FCS programs Tennessee-Martin and Towson. Still, 3 shutouts in a season matches the UF teams of 1988, 1960, 1953 and 1952. Another goose egg against Virginia in the Orange Bowl would tie the modern (post-World War II) school record of 4, set in 1956 and matched in 1957.
Rodrigo Blankenship has hit 198 consecutive extra points, spanning his entire 4-year career at Georgia. That tied the SEC record set by Auburn’s Daniel Carlson from 2014-17. With just one good kick from 20 yards out after Georgia’s first touchdown in the Sugar Bowl against Baylor, Blankenship will own the mark all by himself. The senior has already set school records for career points (432) and won the 2019 Lou Groza Award as the nation’s top placekicker. The solo SEC record for consecutive successful PATs would be just one more notch on his thick game-day glasses.
Since taking over at quarterback, converted wide receiver Lynn Bowden has done most of his work with his feet rather than his arm, passing just 62 times all season and rushing 151 times. He has 5 consecutive games of 100 or more rushing yards, 1 game short of the school record for consecutive 100-yard rushing games set by Sonny Collins in 1975. Had Bowden gained just 1 more yard rushing against Georgia (99 yards on 17 carries) he’d already have the mark at 7 consecutive games. As it is he’ll get his chance in the Belk Bowl against Virginia Tech.
Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow already holds the single-season NCAA record for completion percentage at 77.9 this season (342-of-439) and can take aim at the SEC career completion percentage record against Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl (and the CFP title game if the Tigers defeat the Sooners). Burrow is at 68.6% for his 2-year LSU career, 3rd on the career SEC list with Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa (69.3%) at the top. Bonus record attempts: Ja’Marr Chase has 18 TD catches. He needs just 1 more to break Reidel Anthony’s SEC record. Justin Jefferson needs 4 TD catches to tie Anthony.
Bulldogs running back Kylin Hill has gained 1,347 rushing yards this season, the most for a Mississippi State running back in a decade. Anthony Dixon broke the school record for a single season with 1,391 rushing yards in 2009. Hill needs just 45 yards to break that mark in Mississippi State’s Music City Bowl game against Louisville. The Cardinals don’t seem likely to stop him, either; they allowed Kentucky 517 rushing yards on Nov. 30 in their regular-season finale.
It would take the game of his life and then some, but Jarrett Guarantano — he of the on-again, off-again relationship with the starter’s role as Vols quarterback — has a slim chance to set the career completion percentage mark at Tennessee. Did you see that one coming? It’s true, because when UT faces Indiana in the Gator Bowl, the often-maligned quarterback will be within shouting distance of Peyton Manning’s career record. Manning completed 62.49% of his passes at Tennessee from 1994-97. Guarantano would have to go 32-for-37 against the Hoosiers to hit 62.5% on the nose for his career.
Braden Mann, the 2018 Ray Guy Award winner as the nation’s best punter, already holds the SEC record for single-season average at 51.o yards per punt. Now he seeks to maintain his status as Texas A&M’s all-time leading punter going into the Aggies’ game against Oklahoma State in the Texas Bowl. With 105 punts, the senior just qualifies for the school record (minimum 100) at 49.3 yards per punt. All Mann has to do is avoid an awful game against the Cowboys to etch his name in the Aggies’ record book as the all-time leader ahead of Drew Kaser, who averaged 46.2 yards per attempt from 2011-15.