The bowl season is almost over and the SEC has won four games and lost two. There are two SEC bowl games left one with a guaranteed win and the other game puts a heavily favored SEC team over the Big 12. The National Championship game will guarantee a SEC winner with the matchup of #1 LSU vs. #2 Alabama to move the total to five wins. The other opportunity will come this Friday when #6 Arkansas goes into the Cotton Bowl to face #8 Kansas State. The Razorbacks are currently favored by 7.5 points over the Wildcats and would give the SEC six bowl wins for the year. The rest of the games played out like this… ALL WE DO IS WIN…
Now let’s recap each of them for you.
The Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee was the first SEC Bowl game on December 30th, 2011, and ended with the Mississippi State Bulldogs defeating the Wake Forest Demon Deacons 23-17. Somehow the Bulldogs pulled this one out after turning the ball over four times in the game. It led to the Bulldogs winning consecutive bowls for the first time since 1999-2000 seasons, and only the second time in school history. State was led by Music City Bowl MVP Vick Ballard. The senior carried the ball fourteen times for 180 yards and two touchdowns. It was a career game rushing high for the senior, and was justH three yards from being a school record. The defense also held strong for the Bulldogs getting six sacks and a blocked field goal, and that led to the cowbells ringing in the New Year loudly in the Music City.
The second game of SEC bowl season was the AutoZone Liberty Bowl played on December 31st, 2011. The game matched the Vanderbilt Commodores who came off a fantastic season against the Co-Big East Champions the Cincinnati Bearcats. The Bearcats got the best of the Dores on this day beating Vanderbilt 31-24. Vanderbilt could not stop Isaiah Pead who was the game’s MVP, and had 149 yards and one touchdown on 28 carries. But it was the special teams in the game that were the deciding factor for the Dores Fate, who allowed a 90 yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the fourth quarter. It will be a big offseason for the Dores, and expect them to be back and better next season after the loss to the Bearcats.
The third game came from the Chick-Fil-A Bowl played on December 31st, 2011. It matched up the turmoil stricken Auburn Tigers vs. the Virginia Cavaliers and their ugly helmets. The Tigers beat the Cavaliers 43-24, and I hope it will be the last time we see the orange helmets for Virginia. The game started off slow for the Tigers going down 7-0 early in the first, and then Gus Malzahn put on a show in his final game before taking over at Arkansas State. It was a group effort for the Tigers on offense and the first to take the reins was Onterio McCalebb, who replaced the suspended Michael Dyer. McCalebb had 109 rushing yards on ten carries with one touchdown, two receptions for 53 yards and one touchdown. The Tigers also got a strong performance out of junior quarterback Barrett Trotter who stepped up completing 11/18 for 175 yards and one touchdown. The game is a good break for the Tigers who have had some turmoil lately with coaching departures, and the Michael Dyer situation.
The fourth game and third bowl victory came from the Urban Meyer Bowl previously known as the Gator Bowl played on January 2nd, 2012. The game put the Florida Gators vs. Ohio State in a battle for the coach. Meyer quit on this Gator Team when things got tough, and took over at Ohio State in 2012. The Gators came out and did what all the other SEC teams have done and beat the Buckeyes 24-17. Florida’s defense and special teams should be the MVP of this game. They held the Buckeyes to 299 total yards, created two turnovers and sacked the young Buckeye quarterback 6 times. The special teams unit scored twice on an Andre Debose with a kickoff return that covered 99 yards, and a punt block by Chris Rainey that was also returned for a touchdown. It was another great day for the SEC and a bad nightmare for Buckeye fans, whose team is still winless against the SEC in bowl games.
The fifth game also came on January 2nd, 2012, and gave the SEC a loss. The Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida put a very good Michigan State team against a talented Georgia Bulldog team. The game might have been the most evenly matched game of bowl season, and the score shows it. Michigan State beat the Bulldogs in three overtimes 33-30, in a game where it seemed like neither team wanted to win. Mark Richt made us look brilliant for saying his job was safe and made a great call to kick a field goal on the third down in the first overtime. It led to a Blair Walsh missing wide on the field goal. In the second overtime we saw Walsh break the SEC scoring record with 412 points in his career, and the third overtime led to Michigan State blocking its final kick of the game. Not to take anything away from the Spartans, but this game was Georgia’s to take on multiple occasions and they failed miserably and it started with Mark Richt.
The sixth game was one of historic proportions for the Gamecocks of South Carolina. They achieved their first eleven win season in their football programs’ history with a 30-13 win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Capital One Bowl. Steve Spurrier finally achieved what he was hired to do, by taking the team to another historic mark for the program. Alshon Jeffery came up big as always for the Gamecocks with 148 receiving yards and a touchdown before getting ejected in the third for fighting. Once Jeffery was ejected it put all the pressure on running back Kenny Miles who had a solid day replacing the injured Marcus Lattimore. Miles had 67 rushing yards on fourteen carries, a touchdown, two receptions for thirteen receiving yards and one touchdown on the day. The defense also came up huge for the Gamecocks creating two turnovers and getting to the quarterback six times, all of which helped obtain the historic 11th win for South Carolina.
That puts you with four SEC bowl wins with two to be played. The SEC is guaranteed at least five wins, and six seems very likely. More SEC dominance in college football.