Perception vs. Reality: Bowl season
It’s time to look at key questions involving SEC bowl games:
Perception: SEC should crush considering it’s favored in 11 games
Bowl season comes down to bragging rights, a bunch of games that don’t mean much in the grand scheme besides semifinal contests that will eventually decide the national champion. The SEC’s favored in 11-of-12 bowl games it is featured, a new record for any league. Seven of those favorites are nationally-ranked including Mississippi State and Ole Miss inside the Top 10. 13th-ranked Georgia won 11 bowl games during the BCS, highest in the SEC. The Bulldogs are favored over Louisville in Charlotte.
Reality: League not as strong top to bottom this season
For as strong as the SEC West was this season, the other side of the conference was equally as disappointing. Mizzou managed to win the East without a single victory over a team currently ranked in the Top 25 while losing to the division’s highest-ranked team, Georgia, by 34 points at home. There’s four SEC teams with six wins who may find trouble in bowl games — Arkansas, Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida. No surprise that three are from the East.
Perception: Sugar Bowl will be a competitive semifinal
Urban Meyer vs. Nick Saban is what the College Football Playoff committee wanted heading into the final weekend of Power 5 play and thanks to Ohio State’s 59-point thumping of Wisconsin, it made their selection that much easier. The Buckeyes are one of college football’s hottest teams next to Florida State and are trying to beat an SEC team during bowl season for just the second time in history. Their only win, over Arkansas in the Sugar, was vacated.
Reality: If you want intrigue, tune into the Rose Bowl
Third-team quarterbacks against a Kirby Smart-coached defense won’t end well on paper, but that’s why they play the game. Alabama has ample time to prep for Cardale Jones, the less dynamic of Ohio State’s three dual-threat passers this season. If any New Year’s Six matchup will be lopsided, chances are good it’s this one in New Orleans. Oregon’s showdown with Florida State a few hours earlier on Jan. 1 is the one to watch — Marcus Mariota vs. Jameis Winston. Lots of points and total yardage in that one.
Perception: Peach Bowl is most underrated matchup
Will TCU be motivated in Atlanta after being snubbed for the final Playoff spot? If the Horned Frogs take this one seriously, the Chick-fil-A Bowl should be an exciting game pitting a pass-happy offense against a once elite defense. Gunning for their first 10-win season since 2003, the Rebels have won six consecutive bowl games, two under coach Hugh Freeze.
Reality: Belk Bowl in Charlotte has several storylines
Don’t forget about the Queen City which welcomes Georgia and Louisville this season. Cardinals sophomore safety Gerod Holliman is one interception away from setting a new FBS record for picks in a single season (15) while Bulldogs stud freshman ballcarrier Nick Chubb has one final curtain call before kicking off his Heisman campaign next fall.