SEC's Hot and Not: Bowl Edition
The SEC made a strong case that it remains the best conference in college football. The conference set a NCAA record of eight bowl wins that helped silence the critics.
Let’s take a look at who is hot and who is not after the bowl games:
- Alabama’s dominance: The Crimson Tide’s performance was one of the best all year. Michigan State looked completely overmatched. The Spartans’ focused their defensive game plan on Derrick Henry. But Lane Kiffin and Jake Coker had other plans. The Tide’s offense was clicking from the first whistle. Alabama’s defense was smothering, causing four sacks and two interceptions on the night. It was an impressive display overall.
- What’s up Arkansas? The Razorbacks were full of surprises in 2015. They had a disappointing, three-game losing streak early, but rebounded in the latter part of the season. Arkansas crushed Kansas State 45-23 on Saturday. Alex Collins rushed for 185 yards and three touchdowns.
- Tennessee could be scary in 2016: Based on this year, Tennessee is heading into 2016 with a ton of momentum. Northwestern didn’t stand a chance in the Outback Bowl as the Vols rolled to a 45-6 win. Tennessee returns Joshua Dobbs and Jalen Hurd, a duo proven to be a deadly combination. Keep in mind that the Vols’ only losses came to Oklahoma, Florida, Arkansas and Alabama. They could be the favorites to win the East in 2016.
- Auburn ended with a spark: If Auburn would have played all season like it did against Memphis, the Tigers would have done better than the Birmingham Bowl. The Tigers controlled all phases of the game in their 31-10 win. The quarterback situation should be interesting in the offseason. Neither Sean White nor Jeremy Johnson shined in the Birmingham Bowl, but Auburn’s offense clicked anyway behind its rushing attack. There is uncertainty heading into 2o16. But Auburn has something to build on.
- Florida’s collapse: The Gators were one of the best teams in the SEC at the beginning of the year. But everything changed when Will Grier was suspended. Florida lost its last three straight, including a 41-7 beating at the hands of Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. Jim McElwain needs to find an answer at quarterback this offseason if the Gators want to compete for the SEC East next year.
- Texas A&M is a mess: Kevin Sumlin has his work cut out for him. His two best QB options transferred and Jake Hubenak was unimpressive as a starter in a Music City Bowl loss. The Aggies stayed close against Louisville, but it was a game they should have won. It will be interesting to see how Texas A&M approaches the offseason and if Sumlin and company can turn it around.