A bold prediction for each SEC bowl game
One more time in (or slightly after) 2019 for the SEC. Unless you’re LSU, but that’s another story. Here at the Bold Predictions department, it’s one last shot at an off-the-wall forecast of each SEC game left. Here goes our last shot:
Texas Bowl: Kellen Mond shines for A&M
A&M gets a nice regional rivalry with Oklahoma State in the Texas Bowl on Friday, and the Aggies are favored by almost a touchdown. A big part of their perceived advantage is this: OK State is far from OK is covering the pass, allowing 267 passing yards per game. Meanwhile, Kellen Mond has put together a solid season throwing the ball. Here’s to another big game for Mond: 300+ yards passing and 3 touchdowns as the Aggies win by 17 to put the SEC at 1-0.
Peach Bowl semifinal: Edwards-Helaire is the key … twice
Look, if Clyde Edwards-Helaire is right — or close enough to right to carry the ball 20 times 2 more times, LSU wins the national title. Oklahoma isn’t great — 4 of its past 5 wins were 1-score victories. But LSU can’t just destroy everybody with the pass. They need 100 yards from Edwards-Helaire, and if they get it, the trophy is theirs. Looks like they will be fine Saturday against the Sooners.
Music City Bowl: Kylin Hill shreds Louisville
Go look at the tape from Louisville’s last game. The Cardinals can’t stop an SEC running game, and they won’t stop Kylin Hill in the Music City Bowl. Hill quietly has led the league in rushing, but he won’t be quiet in this one. Louisville will have to sell out on aggressive strategies to even hope to contain Hill, which will pave the way for a 200-yard game and an easy State win.
Orange Bowl: Kyle Trask torches UVA
Virginia couldn’t have a worse matchup if Thomas Jefferson were playing corner for the Cavaliers. Florida is more than a 2-touchdown favorite, and considering that UVA hasn’t been able to stop offenses like Va. Tech, Georgia Tech or Liberty, there’s no way they hold Florida under 35. Gators by 21 in an absolute romp.
Belk Bowl: Tech edges Kentucky
The Wildcats are the lone SEC underdog, and their severe lack of a passing game will make a win over Va. Tech hard to come by. The guess here is that we’re looking at a quickly-paced, low-scoring game, almost identical to Kentucky’s 17-13 loss to Tennessee. In that game, Kentucky needed 1 more passing play and couldn’t get it. Tech’s run defense is too good to let Lynn Bowden have a 200-yard game. The guess is that Tech does the same number on the ‘Cats in a down-to-the-wire loss, despite 150 yards from Bowden.
Outback Bowl: Auburn trails early, rallies late
Sky high off the Alabama win, Alabama will expect to dominate Minnesota, but the Golden Gophers have played 3 ranked teams in their past 4 games, and they’ll get an early jump on Auburn, with some big runs from Rodney Smith. Auburn will have to win late, but the good news is that Bo Nix bookends his season-opening comeback win with a season-ending comeback win on a late pass to Seth Williams.
Citrus Bowl: Michigan pulls a surprise against Bama
Who has more to lose in this game? Alabama’s mojo is missing after 2 late-season losses knocked the Tide from the CFP. Conventional wisdom is that a fired-up Alabama team plays with a chip on its shoulder. But considering the NFL guys not playing, it could be more like the year Alabama didn’t show up against Utah. Meanwhile, Jim Harbaugh needs a positive moment at UM in a hurry. It makes no sense, but he gets one here, with a special teams driven win.
Sugar Bowl: Hot Rod plays the hero
On the other hand, Georgia feels like a team that’s oddly focused. Baylor, like the rest of the Big 12, spent most of its season getting edged out by Oklahoma and picking up ugly wins. The problem is that Georgia’s offense has been mired in a slump for most of the season. They’ll get the win against Baylor, but the big hero is Rodrigo Blankenship, whose 5 field goals are the difference in a 22-21 win.
Gator Bowl: Hoosiers hungrier
In what world is Indiana good at football? Unfortunately for Tennessee, the answer is this world. It’s the first bowl trip for the Vols since the 2016 Music City Bowl, when they beat Nebraska. The Vols have 4 consecutive bowl wins over Big Ten opponents. Indiana feels much like Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl last season — a team that’s historically in the cellar, but has risen to prominence and will have more riding on this game. IU’s last bowl win was in 1991. They’ll find just enough offense to pull this mild upset 24-21.