A bold prediction for each SEC bowl game
It’s getting cold, but we’re staying bold. All year long, we broke down the upcoming games and provided you with fearless, semi-crazy forecasts. Sure, we haven’t been perfect. But we guarantee you some of these things will come to pass. Which ones? That’s the fun part. Here’s a bold prediction for each SEC bowl game.
Mississippi State will set a scoring record for the St. Petersburg Bowl
Sure, it isn’t a particularly prestigious bowl. But Mississippi State (and basically, Nick Fitzgerald) will make some history in the St. Petersburg Bowl against a terrible Miami of Ohio team. The scoring record in the game is 45 points, and the single-player rushing record is 198 yards. Says here that the Bulldogs break the first and Fitzgerald breaks the second.
Kyle Shurmur has another big day for Vandy in the Independence Bowl
Vandy is a slight underdog to NC State, but Kyle Shurmur finished the regular season looking like a Pro Bowl candidate against Tennessee. While State’s defense isn’t as porous at UT’s, the Wolfpack allowed 280-plus passing yards seven times this season. Shurmur may or may not get to that yardage total, but he’ll sling enough touchdowns to get Vandy a two-score victory.
A&M’s defense is bad enough to turn up the heat on John Chavis as well as Kevin Sumlin
In another season in which A&M has come in like a lion and is going out like a lamb, the Aggies’ Texas Bowl matchup with Kansas State looks troublesome. State won five of its last six games, and dual threat QB Jesse Ertz should scare anybody who watched A&M. Yes, A&M, which got shredded by Nick Fitzgerald, run all over by LSU, and coughed up a lead to Shea Patterson. Ertz might look like Randall Cunningham, and in beating A&M by 17 or so, will start a long off-season for Sumlin and defensive coordinator Chavis.
The SEC’s biggest underdog — South Carolina — delivers an upset
This is a tough matchup for Carolina. South Florida has an amazing offense, led by QB Quentin Flowers. But its defense is incredibly suspect, allowing 482 yards and 31 points per game. That’s just the crack in the door that RB Rico Dowdle and QB Jake Bentley need. Don’t underestimate the fact that USF is without head coach Willie Taggart, who headed for greener pastures at Oregon. Carolina finds a way to pull out the win, which actually eclipses Tennessee as the Gamecocks’ best win of the year.
Virginia Tech takes it to Arkansas
The Razorbacks finished the year looking maddeningly inconsistent. They thumped Florida, but also got hammered by Auburn and LSU. The edged past Mississippi State, but stumbled at Mizzou. Frankly, their defense doesn’t have the stuff to pull out the Belk Bowl. Robb Smith’s job may be on the line after Tech wins by two scores in a game that’s not even really that close.
The 2017 returning stars hammer TCU for Georgia
Georgia is accustomed to being a few rungs above the Liberty Bowl. That said, they aren’t accustomed to keeping guys like Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Davin Bellamy and Reggie Carter. Momentum is a tricky thing, but the Bulldogs have a ton of it in this game. Chubb and Michel will each eclipse 100 rushing yards, and UGA wins by 20.
Tennessee stays in-state, wins a shootout
Fortunately, the Music City Bowl doesn’t have a “D” in its name. Because there won’t be a ton of it played between Nebraska and Tennessee. Nebraska gave up 40 to Iowa and 62 to Ohio State late in the season, and Tennessee couldn’t stop anybody. This looks like a 42-40 kind of game, but it says here that Derek Barnett will play the only meaningful defense in this game and make a big play to put Tennessee on the right side of the scoreboard.
Kentucky grinds out a bowl win behind Benny Snell
Many see the TaxSlayer Bowl with Georgia Tech as a shootout. But here’s the rub — in a game where 80 percent of the plays will be runs, the clock will keep tick, tick, ticking away. Kentucky’s advantage is freshman Benny Snell. Tech will be too disciplined to get gashed by speedy Boom Williams, but Snell’s churning, power style will enable UK to control the clock and grind out a big win. If you gamble, think about the under in this one. Looks like a 17-14 kind of game from here, with Snell going for 150 yards and being the bowl MVP.
Fournette doesn’t play, but Arden Key does, and LSU beats Louisville
The Leonard Fournette non-playing controversy has dominated headlines, but if you saw LSU this year, you know that Derrius Guice is almost as good as Fournette. The bigger story is LSU’s defense, which is underrated, especially Arden Key. Key will sack Louisville QB Lamar Jackson three times, and will spend enough time in the Louisville backfield to be eligible for bowl swag from both schools. Louisville will make some plays, but LSU will get a defensive score, which will help them pull off a 10-point win.
No touchdowns in the Outback Bowl
Take two big-time programs, remove any vestiges of offense, and let them play each other. Florida’s defense is big time, but Iowa won’t make mistakes on offense. Whoever plays QB for Florida, the Gators’ offense will look like it is stuck in the mud. We’re going 9-6 Iowa. And it won’t just be the turkey that’s putting you to sleep.
Pettway versus Mayfield goes to the wire, then Carlson wins it
Daniel Carlson knocks off Oklahoma with a last-second 50-plus-yard field goal. This Sugar Bowl game is fascinating, because Auburn struggled with passing QBs, but nobody in the Big 12 gave Oklahoma anything like Kamryn Pettway to deal with. Honestly, Oklahoma’s running game is better than Auburn’s passing game, but Auburn won’t have the whole country hating it because of a nasty domestic violence incident. So Pettway goes for 200, and OU’s Baker Mayfield throws for 400. The difference maker here is Carlson, who is quietly an absolute star of a kicker.
Alabama loses. Just kidding. They set the biggest margin in CFP history.
Alabama is looking down the barrel of a unique 15-0 season, and they’re not stopping now. Biggest CFP blowout so far was 39 points. Was, because Alabama will break it against Washington. No disrespect to Jake Browning or the Huskies, but they’re just, in the words of Rube Baker in Major League 2, standing on the tracks when the train is coming through. Bama 51-10.