Bowl season is upon us and – for various reasons – a large chunk of the SEC is going bowling at the end of the 2020 season. Here is a look ahead at what is to come.
By Steve Wright
Week Results: 2-2. LSU bit me yet again, while Mississippi State got some serious offense going against Mizzou.
Closest Pick: A&M 38, Tennessee 13. Ended up out by seven points in this one which feels acceptable.
Season Results: 49-20.
(7) Florida vs. (6) Oklahoma – Who is Kyle Trask actually going to be able to throw the ball to? The Gators will be without their top four pass catchers in this one – Kyle Pitts, Kadarius Toney, Trevon Grimes, and Jacob Copeland – with Covid issues and opt-outs destroying the depth chart at wide receiver. Trask will still have his moments through the air, but that is a lot of talent to replace in what looks set to be a shootout. Oklahoma 45, Florida 38.
Mississippi State vs. (24) Tulsa – The Golden Hurricane are a bad matchup for the Bulldogs. They were a few seconds away from beating Cincinnati in the AAC Championship game and they have one of the best defenses in the country that held opponents to under 21 points per game (albeit they will be without their best defensive player in Zaven Collins). The Bulldogs rank last in the nation in rushing and they won’t get enough through the air here. Tulsa 27, Mississippi State 13.
Arkansas vs. TCU – A game with a little bit of conference pride in play here as TCU cannot afford to lose to a three-win SEC team for the sake of the Big 12. Feleipe Franks has been ok at quarterback for the Hogs this year, but the defense ranks 99th in the country allowing 35 points per game and will get picked on here. TCU 42, Arkansas 25.
(9) Georgia vs. (8) Cincinnati – The Bulldogs will be without a host of players due to opt-outs – including All-SEC selections CB Eric Stokes, LB Monty Rice, and OG Ben Cleveland. Azeez Ojulari – the ‘Dogs sack leader will play – as potentially with safety Richard LeCounte who is trying to return from a dirt bike accident. Cincinnati will be at full strength, but it won’t quite be enough in a battle of solid defensive units. Georgia 27, Cincinnati 21.
Auburn vs. (14) Northwestern – An Auburn program about to be in transition faces a Northwester squad that was 6-1 in the Big Ten and 10-6 up against Ohio State at the half in the Big Ten Championship game. They allow just 15.5 points per game and Auburn is going to struggle to move the ball here against a defense of that quality. Northwestern 27, Auburn 10.
(1) Alabama vs. (4) Notre Dame – Alabama has been a monster this season beating up on just about everyone it has faced. Notre Dame looked good and is 1-1 vs. Clemson on the year, but the win came when Trevor Lawrence wasn’t playing and the Irish were dismantled in the ACC Championship game by the Tigers. This would be a monumental shock if it is anything other than a ‘Bama win. Alabama 52, Notre Dame 23.
Kentucky vs. (23) North Carolina State – The 4-6 Wildcats draw the 8-3 Wolfpack and it is a Kentucky team that was a handful of plays away from a winning season. This should see a couple of pretty much complete teams in action and the Wildcats would be smart to use sophomore back Chris Rodriguez Jr. with a heavy workload on their way to a win. Kentucky 31, NC State 27.
Ole Miss vs. (11) Indiana – Ole Miss appears to be having Covid issues on the offensive side of the ball to add to the fact that running back Jerrion Ealy and wide receiver Braylon Sanders both look doubtful with injuries. This should all mean a win for Indiana – if the game even goes ahead. Indiana 30, Ole Miss 23.
(5) Texas A&M vs. (13) North Carolina – The Aggies were just good enough in 2020 to not quite be in the CFP conversation. They aren’t flashy – but their defense was the 16th best in the country despite the tough schedule that comes with only playing SEC teams. They match up well against the explosive offense of the Tar Heels, especially when you consider that North Carolina will be without offensive stars like running back Javonte Williams and wide receiver Dyami Brown. A&M 31, North Carolina 21.