Two SEC bowls down and nine to go. The first two – Florida getting blown away by Oregon State and Mizzou losing to Wake Forst – did not go the way of the conference. Here is a look at how the rest will play out (with a look back to Week 13 of the regular season too.)
By Steve Wright
Week Results: 5-4
Closest Pick: Kentucky 27, Louisville 21. The actual was Kentucky 26, Louisville 13. Best pick in a week that was my worst of the year.
Worst Pick: LSU 31, Texas A&M 10. The actual was Texas A&M 38, LSU 23. This was easily my biggest miss, but it is not like anyone else saw this coming.
Season Results: 88-23 (82.6%). Last week was 79.28%
No Bowl – Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, Auburn
Already Played – Florida, Mizzou
Arkansas Vs. Kansas – Kansas doesn’t stop the run well, and Arkansas has four of five offensive line starters, Raheim Sanders and KJ Jefferson, all locked and loaded in this one. The defensive back seven is a word because of injuries, NFL leavers, and transfer portal entrants, but Arkansas will control the clock against a Kansas team that faded hard down the stretch after a hot start. Arkansas 35, Kansas 28.
Ole Miss Vs. Texas Tech – Ole Miss’ Quinshon Judkins leads the SEC in rushing yards and touchdowns with 1,476 yards and 16 TDs. Tyler Shough returned as Texas Tech’s starting quarterback over the final three games of the regular season as he led the Red Raiders to wins over Kansas, Iowa State and Oklahoma. Ole Miss 42, Texas Tech 38
No. 19 South Carolina Vs. No. 21 Notre Dame – South Carolina can win this if Spencer Rattler can find someone to throw the ball to. They closed winning seven of their last night – including big time wins over Tennessee and Clemson – but their losses in the receiving game (especially at tight end) will be hard to overcome here. Notre Dame 24, South Carolina 21.
No. 8 Tennessee Vs. No. 7 Clemson – Tennessee will be rolling with a relatively complete defense. Still, the offense will be tested without Hendon Hooker (injury) and receiving game stars Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman, headed to the NFL. Hiatt – the best wide receiver in the country – is a massive loss, but if Josh Heupel’s up-tempo system is adaptable, they should still score points. Clemson also has questions at quarterback, and with their pass rush, so this one should be fun. Clemson 37, Tennessee 34.
No. 5 Alabama Vs. No. 9 Kansas State – Alabama is in a bowl it has no interest in, while Kansas State winning the Big XII was something no one predicted at the start of the season. Star quarterback Bryce Young and stud EDGE rusher Will Anderson have bucked the trend to confirm they are playing for the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl. It is hard to see the Wildcats having enough to beat a relatively loaded Alabama squad. Alabama 38, Kansas State 28.
Kentucky Vs. Iowa – First to ten points wins? Will the winner even score ten points at all? This game is fascinating in a car crash sort of way, as Iowa’s historically inept offense faces a Kentucky team that was challenged offensively in 2022 too. Oh, and the Wildcats will be without starting quarterback Will levis and star running back Chris Rodriguez. The betting TOTAL for this is 31, and it still feels like the under will happen. Iowa 14, Kentucky 7.
No. 1 Georgia Vs. No. 4 Ohio State – Finally, a game where all the component pieces from the season should be in place. Georgia is the better team, but Ohio State with throw everything at Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs in an upset bid. Look for Georgia to exploit their tight end mismatches in Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington, as they never let Ohio State close enough to think they can pull this off. Georgia 31, Ohio State 21.
No. 22 Mississippi State Vs. Illinois – Tragedy surrounds this matchup after the sudden and unexpected passing of Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach shortly before Christmas. This bowl game is still going ahead – the Mississippi State players were given the option of backing out – and defensive coordinator Zach Arnett has been installed as the permanent head coach. Illinois will be without some key players, and MSU will be playing for the memory of Leach. MSU 35, Illinois 21.
No. 17 LSU Vs. Purdue – Purdue is down a head coach – Jeff Brohm just took the head job at Louisville – and a slew of key players as the face LSU here. The Tigers have not made it to the bowl unscathed, with defensive linemen Ali Gaye, Jaquelin Roy, and BJ Ojulari missing to focus on the NFL Draft. Even so, LSU will have way too much here. LSU 35, Purdue 20.