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SEC Bowl Season Arrives

Videos by OutKick

I’m working like heck to get better at television.

Because right now I’m kind of awkward. There are several things on TV you’re supposed to do that are unnatural. For instance, stare directly in to the camera. If you pull your eyes away from the lens it looks awful. Yet this is the exact opposite of what you do in real life. Don’t believe me? Find someone at work and engage them in conversation. Do not take your eyes off of them for the entire conversation and watch how uncomfortable it makes them.

Also, you have to smile.

A lot.

If you don’t smile a lot on television you look mean. You know who smiles the most in sports television? Rachel Nichols. Watch her do a report, the entire time she’s talking she’s smiling. And she also winks at us like every thirty seconds.

I’m not even kidding about this.

Yet if you put Rachel Nichols and me in a Presidential debate, gave her all of Sarah Palin’s lines and gave me all of Joe Biden’s lines, she would crush me.

She wouldn’t make any sense, but like 90% of y’all would think she won the debate because she was smiling and winking at you.

So that’s why I look so awkward in this video.

Also, not going to lie, the mullet snuck up on me.

 I’m not sure how much I’ll be used in the hour long special, but it’s airing at 1:30 central right before the Vandy-Cincinnati game on ABC.

Feel free to watch and catalogue my awkwardness.

Now on to Zach Bingham’s bowl preview:

After sifting through all of those early bowl games that don’t involve the best conference in America, we are finally here. Nine SEC teams grace us with their football presence this bowl season beginning with today’s Music City Bowl.

Here we go.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl – Mississippi State (6-6) vs Wake Forest (6-6)
Friday December 30th at 5:40pm CT on ESPN
Line: Mississippi State -6 1/2

Two teams that play much better on the hardwood than on the gridiron.

You could say that Mississippi State’s season did not go as planned, as the Bulldogs came up short against Auburn and South Carolina. Win those two games and State is 8-4 and we’re talking about Mullen going for his second straight nine win season.  We all remember the game against Auburn when quarterback Chris Relf came up a yard shy at the end of regulation trying to get by Auburn defensive back Ryan Smith. To refresh your memory:

 

Throughout the rest of the season, the Bulldogs played merry go round with their QBs. Relf got playing time but also Tyler Russell and Dylan Favre saw the field as well. Ranked 92nd in the nation in passing, State relies on their thousand yard rusher Vic Ballard to power the offensive train. Ballard saw the end zone eight times this season which is down from 19 TDs a year ago. Playing in the SEC West is tough but Mississippi State only managed one win in division and that was to in-state rival Ole Miss. Riding their defense, that ranks eighteenth in points allowed, the Bulldogs secondary looks to stop Wake Forest who loves to pass the football. Rumors have head coach Dan Mullen jumping ship next season so it will be interesting to see that saga plays out.

Biggest Win: Louisiana Tech (8-5)
Worst Loss: Auburn (7-5)

Wake Forest started the season 5-2 looking to compete for the ACC Championship but hit a rough patch late in the season. Losing five of their last seven, the Demon Deacons couldn’t seem to get back on pace. A pass happy offense that is controlled by quarterback Tanner Price wants to attack Mississippi State’s cornerbacks early and often. Throwing for over 2,800 yard this year, Price can pick a part defenses with ease. Where Wake struggles is protection. Price has been sacked twenty-eight times this year and the Bulldogs defense will try to put as much pressure as they can on the Wake offensive line. Most SEC fans know that the Demon Deacons were destroyed at home by Vanderbilt in their season finale 41-7. That’s not a great confidence builder going into Friday’s Music City Bowl

Biggest Win: Florida State (8-4)
Worst Loss: Syracuse (5-7)

AutoZone Liberty Bowl – Cincinnati (9-3) vs Vanderbilt (6-6)
Saturday December 31st at 2:30pm CT on ABC
Line: Vanderbilt -2

After watching Cincinnati get drummed by the Vols early in the year, I didn’t expect them to finish first in the Big East but they did just that. Going 9-3 on the season shows you how weak that conference really is. Now the big question is will Zach Collaros, who has thrown for over 1,800 yards this season despite missing Cincinnati’s last three games due to an injury, play. He’s listed as probable and is 65-70% likely to play in Saturday’s bowl game. With Collaros in question, running back Issiah Pead will need to step up. Defensively, the Bearcats are nineteenth in the nation in points allowed, only giving up twenty per game. Head coach Butch Jones has done a nice job taking the place of now Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly as Cincinnati was picked to finish fifth in the Big East but instead are at the front of the class with West Virginia. It”s hard to gauge what Bearcat team will show up. Will it be the one who played Tennessee or the one who holds a share of the Big East title?

Biggest Win: NC State (8-5)
Worst Loss: Tennessee (5-7)

Buzz Lightyear to Star Command, first year head coach James Franklin has taken the Vanderbilt Commodores to a bowl game.

Wow. What a year for the Dores. Six wins is a fine job for the first year coach in the SEC. Vanderbilt took on the mentality this year of beating the teams you are expected to beat to achieve bowl eligibility. Change one play in close games that didn’t go the Dores way against #16 Georgia, Florida, #6 Arkansas and arch rival Tennessee and Vandy could have had ten wins. Yes, ten wins. Quarterback Jordan Rodgers has played exceptional and beating out Larry Smith for the job was a blessing for coach Franklin. Rodgers legs kept him out trouble more time than not and the ability to throw on the run makes defenses honest. The Dores couldn’t have made any of this possible without the play of running back Zac Stacy though. The thousand yard back scored thirteen touchdowns and reeled of five games rushing over one hundred yards. Vandy fans are ecstatic with the Dores play and have much more to look forward to after extending Franklin’s coaching contract and blueprinting facility upgrades. The Bearcats have a better record, but Vanderbilt plays in tougher conference. If Vandy wins, look for Coach Franklin to toss back a few on Beale Street to celebrate the team’s accomplishments.

Biggest Win: Wake Forest (6-6)
Worst Loss: Tennessee (5-7)

Chik-fil-A Bowl – Virginia (8-4) vs Auburn (7-5)
December 31st at 6:30pm CT on ESPN
Line: Auburn -2 1/2

A battle of conflicting colors. Virginia will wear orange and the Tigers will be in blue.

The Cavaliers flew under the radar for much of the season but finished a respectable third in the ACC. Starting the season 2-2 with loses to North Carolina and CUSA champ Southern Miss, Virginia came together and finished strong. Quarterback Michael Rocco throws just under thirty passes per game as the Cavs have a nice pass to run ratio. A balanced team that uses running backs Perry Jones and Kevin Parks to their advantage. Both smaller backs, Jones is the go-to-guy catching passes out of the backfield with breakaway speed. Parks, who leads the team with eight touchdowns, comes in with fresh legs to keep the opposing defense on their toes. Defensively they will look to stop an Auburn offense that has the ability to beat you with their wide receivers and star running back. This should be a great bowl game to start your New Years Eve festivities with.

Biggest Win: Florida State (9-4)
Worst Loss: NC State (8-5)

Coming off of a championship season, the Tigers expected more but knew in their heart of hearts that this is what they would get with a young football team. Second in the SEC in rushing, running back Michael Dyer upheld his end of the bargain, toting the ball for over a thousand yards for the second straight year and tabbing ten touchdowns. New quarterbacks Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley had $180,000 shoes to fill this year and Clint Moseley ultimately provided about $79 worth of quarterbacking. The sophomore QB would have had a better opportunity for success if wide out Emory Blake could have stayed healthy the entire season. Blake started out with a touchdown in each of his first four games but a leg injury sidelined the Tigers top receiver, who was unable to recover fully. With rest, Blake needs a big game to beat the Cavaliers on Saturday night.

Biggest Win: #9 South Carolina (9-3)
Worst Loss: Georgia (10-3)

 
Happy New Year from OKTC.

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.