SEC bowl preview: What to expect from the nation’s premiere conference in postseason play

The Southeastern Conference had a historic season in 2014. 12 SEC Teams will play in bowl games. The headliner will be in the Sugar Bowl where Alabama will play in the first College Football Playoff. All seven teams from the SEC West are going bowling. Each year these questions arise: “Are there too many bowls? Does a team deserve to be awarded a bowl with a 6-6 record?” The answer could be both yes and no at the same time. Arkansas has a 6-6 record, but when their season is evaluated, you discover they dug out of a deep hole and at season’s end. They concluded as a strong team, and the Razorbacks deserve the opportunity to showcase their progress. On the other hand, Florida looks like a team that got off the Carousel of Progress at the first stop resulting in their coach being fired; they should spend the winter by the fire warming their Gator hands contemplating the future.

ALABAMA will go bowling for the 61st time. The Tide and Ohio State playing in the first College Football Playoff should be a classic. Two of the historic powerhouse teams from two tradition-filled conferences will be quite a showcase for college football. The Crimson Tide and Buckeyes, 12-1 vs. 12-1, Number 1 and 4, Saban and Meyer coaching, and SEC vs. Big Ten all make this game a national attention-grabber. Plus, it is being played in the Sugar Bowl and on New Years Day.

TENNESSEE (6-6) will play in their 50th bowl when they meet Iowa (7-5) in the TaxSlayer Bowl. It could be interesting, I guess. The loser of this game should have enough deductions for a major tax break.

GEORGIA (9-3) goes bowing for the 50th time when they play Louisville (9-3). Louisville from the ACC and Georgia from the SEC will faceoff in the Belk Bowl in North Carolina. Wally Butts never dreamed Georgia would play in the Belk Bowl. Louisville’s coach is Petrino not Pitino. Something does not seem or sound right here.

LSU (7-5) will make its 46th post season appearance when they meet Notre Dame (7-5) in the Music City Bowl. Big names should bring sweet tunes to Nashville for this game.

FLORIDA (7-5) makes its 41st bowl appearance playing East Carolina (8-4) in Birmingham for the most uniquely named bowl – The Birmingham Bowl. AAC vs. SEC. How many have been waiting with bated breath for over a year for these two conferences to square off?

ARKANSAS (6-6) will play for the 40th time in a bowl game when the Razorbacks go up against the Longhorns of Texas (6-6) in the Texas Bowl. This is Charlie (Strong) vs. Bret (Bielema), not Darrell (Royal) against Frank (Broyles); it is not a Southwest Conference showdown; it is a lower-tier Big 12 team vs. SEC match up.

AUBURN (8-4) makes its 39th bowl appearance when they face Wisconsin (10-3) in the Outback Bowl. The Badgers will be without their head coach, and Auburn will be without their defensive coordinator. Perhaps the new coaches to fill those roles, Paul Chryst and Will Muschamp, will split a Bloomin’ Onion (of Outback Steakhouse fame) while watching the Badgers and Tigers play.

OLE MISS (9-3) will play in a bowl game for the 36th time going up against TCU (11-1) in the Peach Bowl. When these two teams take the field in Atlanta, there will be a ton of intrigue as it is one of the New Year’s Six bowl games.

TEXAS A&M (7-5) will play for the 36th time in a bowl game when they meet West Virginia (7-5) in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. The loser of this game will be singing the blues as they wait for next year.

MISSOURI (10-3) will play in their 31st bowl when they play Minnesota (8-4) in the Citrus Bowl. Many would say that both of these teams overachieved this year; so, I guess you could call this a ‘show me’ game.

SOUTH CAROLINA (6-6) plays in their 20th bowl when they play Miami (6-6) in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport. These teams should get the under-achievement medal for 2014. Steve Spurrier’s relevance in a crowded SEC is hanging by a thread right now, and he needs to win this game badly.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (10-2) makes its 20th bowl appearance. The Bulldogs’ foe will be Georgia Tech (10-3). When the sun sets on the Orange Bowl in Miami, will the high-flying MSU team, who were ranked number 1 for a part of the season, or the GT team who almost derailed FSU show up? If you’d like to attend this game, you’re in luck. Most ticket brokers offer spots in the stadium for this game for less value than a package of chewing gum.

The SEC is no stranger to bowl games, and the SEC fans have a high level of knowledge of college football. While some things seem odd with the AAC, ACC and PAC 12, things seem normal in the SEC. Can you imagine explaining to fans from the European Football League that a team from the Big 12 (with 10 teams) playing a Big TEN team (with 14 teams) is penalized for an illegal kick? Let those same fans watch a hard-fought game from the SEC, and they would be able to identify with the intensity and passion without understanding all the rules. One rule of thumb that we all get:  The SEC goes bowling at the end of a college football season like no other conference.

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Editor’s note:  This post has been updated to correct the number of bowl games in which Tennessee has participated.

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