Tuesday, December 30, 2003

SEC bowl game picks

After a season of weekly SEC football picks, I'd be remiss if I didn't turn in predictions for the seven bowl games featuring SEC teams.

All seven bowls take place from Dec. 31 - Jan. 4 (hmm, six of the seven SEC teams in bowl games are playing in New Year's Day bowls or better. Funny how USC is the only Pac-10 team playing on or after New Year's. But I digress ...), so it's a super-concentrated five days of SEC football.

On with the show ...

Music City Bowl: Auburn vs. Wisconsin - I've said many times I have no respect for Big 10 teams outside of Michigan and Ohio State. Other than those two, the Big 10 struggles to compete with the speed and power of the SEC. Tigers, 24 - 13

Independence Bowl: Arkansas vs. Missouri - It was a seriously up-and-down year for the Hogs. But they finished strong, up until the met the Tiger buzzsaw the day after Thanksgiving. Mizzou is a pretty decent team, but I still like the Hogs. Arkansas, 20 - 17

Outback Bowl: Florida vs. Iowa - Iowa = Big 10; Florida = Chris Leak and only team to beat LSU. Crocs, 41 - 24

Capital One Bowl: Georgia vs. Purdue - Purdue = Big 10; Georgia = SEC Champions if not for LSU. Dawgs, 31 - 20

Cotton Bowl: Ole Miss vs. Oklahoma State - I like this matchup. The traditional rivals of the two Sugar Bowl teams, both coming off 9-3 seasons. It's Eli's last game at his daddy's school, and I don't think he wants the last play people remember him for to be the 4th-and-tripped play to close the LSU game. Rebels, 27 - 24

Peach Bowl: Tennessee vs. Clemson - Who let the Peach Bowl move to Jan. 2? The "status" of the post-New-Year's date can't make 10-2 Tennessee any happier to be in Atlanta playing an 8-4 team rather than a real New Year's bowl. Vols, 38 - 10

Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. Oklahoma - Oklahoma no longer has its aura of invincibility, and Kansas State provided an excellent roadmap to beating the Sooners. And that strategy - heavy and relentless defensive pressure - happens to be what LSU does best. Heisman Boy Jason White isn't as mobile as Eli, David Greene or Matt Jones, and the Sooners haven't seen anything like the speed of LSU. I don't look for LSU to put up 35 on Oklahoma, but you never know. Most likely it's a defensive struggle, and I like LSU's chances there. Tigers, 17 - 14

BONUS PICK - Rose Bowl: USC vs. Michigan - Even if I believed the USC hype, I couldn't pick them here. But I think Michigan has shown itself to be by far the best of the two-loss teams. A four-point loss to Oregon and/or a three-point loss to Iowa is all the kept the Wolverines from mucking up the BCS even more. Michigan, 24 - 20


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