12 things I want to see SEC accomplish during 2016 bowl season
Bowl season finally kicks off today for the best conference in America, as both Mississippi State and Vanderbilt will be in action.
The Bulldogs are in the Sunshine State for the St. Petersburg Bowl — I’ll be on hand to cover that game, as a matter of fact — against Miami of Ohio. The Commodores are in the Pelican State for the Independence Bowl facing N.C. State.
By the time it’s all said and done, 12 of the SEC’s 14 programs will be on display this postseason. While Alabama is the only one in contention for the national championship, that doesn’t mean the others have nothing to play for as we wrap up the 2016 campaign. With so few opportunities to suit up every year, they all mean something.
Here are 12 things that I would like to see the league accomplish over the course of the holidays, one for each member institution.
All I really want is for the Crimson Tide to beat Washington in the Peach Bowl and move on to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Why, you ask? First, my credential status is contingent on ‘Bama winning. Second, the game is in Tampa. I live in Tampa. If I want to be a part of it, then the SEC needs to be a part of it.
Since this is probably the best quarterback matchup for the conference during bowl season, I’d love to witness a shootout between the Razorbacks’ Austin Allen and Virginia Tech’s Jerod Evans. Also, because it’s the Belk Bowl, I hope to see lots of SDS gear in the crowd. The people at Belk pitch our products religiously. For that, I’m grateful.
The Sugar Bowl has been clouded by Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who cold-cocked a young girl half his size two years ago and smashed her face in the process. The video of the incident was just made public, and it’s as disturbing as we imagined. Perhaps the Tigers defense has a little more motivation now to neutralize Mixon.
All I can hope for is that the Outback Bowl is remotely watchable. The Gators face Iowa, with both clubs featuring a brand of offense that can be downright offensive at times. The Hawkeyes have a good quarterback in C.J. Beathard, although he’s certainly not a great one. UF, of course, would settle for competent right now at QB.
Jacob Eason played relatively well early in the season for the Bulldogs. However, he didn’t improve very much from start to finish. If anything, he regressed a little bit come November. He’ll have an extra 15 practices under his belt by the time UGA kicks off with TCU in the Liberty Bowl. It’s time for Eason (below) to look less like a true freshman.
I’m really looking forward to the Wildcats in the TaxSlayer Bowl against Georgia Tech. With college football revolving around the passing game these days, this should be an all-out ground assault on both sides. The ‘Cats are new school with the spread. The Yellow Jackets are old school with the triple option. It’s a nice contrast.
We won’t get the privilege of seeing Leonard Fournette run with the ball one last time in purple and gold. Therefore, it would be great if his heir apparent, Derrius Guice, went wild in the Citrus Bowl against Louisville. If he does, Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson might learn why only Archie Griffin has won the Heisman Trophy twice.
Assuming we get locker-room access after the final gun, which is usually the case in bowl games, I want to talk to Jeffery Simmons. Especially on the heels of the Mixon story becoming news all over again, Simmons will eventually have to address his prior transgressions whether he likes it or not. He hasn’t talked to the media all season long.
If Jake Bentley is truly the quarterback of the future for the Gamecocks, and I believe he is, then I’d love to see OC Kurt Roper experiment with Brandon McIlwain. You can’t play two QBs. However, McIlwain (below) is too talented to leave on the bench for USF in the Birmingham Bowl. There’s no reason why he can’t be a hybrid runner/receiver.
Even if he seemingly never won a game that mattered and failed to help the Volunteers break through on the national scene, Joshua Dobbs is everything right with college football. He’s a tremendous player, a tremendous student and a tremendous ambassador for his university. He deserves a curtain call in the Music City Bowl against Nebraska.
While I won’t criticize Fournette for skipping LSU’s bowl game, as he’s simply taking advantage of the environment that’s been created around him, I love the fact that Myles Garrett is playing in the Texas Bowl. More than likely, he’s going higher in the draft that Fournette. He’ll have one more chance to prove why.
Most of the good coaches these days are more like CEOs. Derek Mason, on the other hand, is still comfortable getting his hands dirty. Full plate or not, he continues to call the signals for his own defense. The Commodores probably suffer offensively as a result, but Mason’s wizardry on the other side of the ball is special.