Twelve SEC football teams earned postseason bowl game bids this year, including No. 1 Alabama, which will play No. 4 Washington in a semifinal game in the College Football Playoff.
While Alabama will arguably be playing in the biggest bowl game of all SEC teams, I can say with great confidence that as the best team in the nation, Alabama will scoot by Washington by at least two scores and that viewers will get more enjoyment out of putting their focus on other bowl games this year. SEC teams, while a lot of them are underdogs in their respective matchups, have a chance to put the SEC back on the map as the best conference in football.
No. 20 LSU vs. No. 13 Louisville: Citrus Bowl, December 31 at 10 a.m. CT
While most Leonard Fournette critics have already scratched this game out of their TV schedule, not only does the man deserves a break, this game offers potential for being one of the more exciting bowl games this year. Lamar Jackson is coming off a well-deserved Heisman Trophy win and will be looking to, once again, lead the Cardinals’ explosive offense to victory. This game is truly a clash of two titans as Louisville has not seen a defense as powerful as LSU’s, which is giving up only 4.6 yards per play and 16.7 points per game, ninth-best and fifth-best in the nation, respectively. LSU’s freak of nature, Arden Key, will look to get to Jackson and deliver yet again another astounding defensive performance. This game needs to be marked down on your calendar.
No. 14 Auburn vs. No. 7 Oklahoma: Sugar Bowl, January 2 at 7:30 p.m. CT
Playing with a chip on their shoulder after a dismal performance against Clemson in the Orange Bowl last season, coach Bob Stoops and Oklahoma take on Auburn in a matchup that is bound to produce offensive fireworks. Leading the nation in passing efficiency, the Sooners have scored 34 points or more in all 10 of their wins this season. Quarterback Baker Mayfield and wide receiver Dede Westbrook have been an electric combination all season and will look to pick up the slack of their abysmal defense once again.
On the other side of the field, Auburn’s Kamryn Pettway was one of the SEC’s best players and looked to be in contention for the Heisman Trophy until a leg injury cut his season short. Now rested, Pettway has a chance to run all over an Oklahoma defense that is ranked 89th in the nation in total defense and is allowing 160 rushing yards per game. While Pettway is certainly remarkable, the heart of the Auburn team this year has definitely been its defense. Highlighted by a vicious pass rush led by Carl Lawson, if Auburn can slow the Sooners’ offense down like it has done against both Alabama and Clemson, the Tigers have a good shot at a bowl victory for the SEC.
Georgia vs. TCU: Liberty Bowl, December 30 at 11 a.m. CT
Turning the focus to two unranked teams, Georgia and TCU have both had unfortunate losses in their respective seasons. The Bulldogs’ 34-31 loss to Tennessee, which ended in a 43-yard Hail Mary from Josh Dobbs on the game’s final play, was a definite heartbreaker. The Horned Frogs have also had their share of low moments, which included blowing a two-touchdown lead to Oklahoma and a Week 9 27-24 double overtime loss at home to Texas Tech. TCU is led by quarterback Kenny Hill, who has had a tale of two seasons. While throwing for more than 3,000 yards this year, the Frogs’ passing attack has not reached the 200-yard mark in four of its last six games. However, even with Georgia’s strong secondary, do not be surprised if Hill lets it rip.
It has been a disappointing year for the Bulldogs’ ground game, as Nick Chubb has not produced the stat line that many thought he would after coming off a gruesome knee injury last year. That being said, both he and Sony Michel are overdue to break out. If Georgia can use its strong defense to lock down Hill, its running game should take care of the rest, as it faces a run defense allowing 180 rushing yards per game. Both teams will be looking to claim some sort of victory from their mediocre seasons, while true freshman quarterback Jacob Eason will try to show off what the future holds in store for Georgia.