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SEC Football Bowl Previews

How will the Southeastern Conference fare in bowl season this year?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Citrus Bowl - Michigan v Alabama Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Greetings, BBN! Conference championships are in the books, the playoff is set, and bowl mania is here!

Nine teams from the Southeastern Conference had a season good enough to get a holiday trip, and one of them is playing for a championship, and one of them is blue, white, and playing Clemson in the Gator Bowl, seeking their sixth bowl win under their coach Mark Stoops. Let’s take an early glance at each game and preview bowl mania:

Texas Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M

When: December 27, 9 pm

Where: NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas

Oklahoma State had a strong season and comes into the Texas Bowl fresh off their second trip to the Big 12 Championship game in three years. A win over the Aggies could get them their second 10+ win season in three years as well. The Aggies, as always, will be coming into the game disappointed with their season and, even in their home state, probably will not bring as much fire as the Cowboys will.

Gator Bowl: Clemson vs. Kentucky

When: December 29, 12 pm

Where: EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida

Clemson this season was definitely not the Clemson it used to be, but that didn’t mean they were terrible. They fought tooth and claw in every game they played and finished a solid 8-4 with wins over Notre Dame and North Carolina while only losing to good conference foes on the road and in an overtime thriller in Death Valley with Florida State.

Kentucky played a brutal SEC schedule and watched 5-0 turn to 6-5, but finished the year with a thrilling 38-31 road upset of 10-1 archrival Louisville, sending the Wildcats into bowl season with a huge gust of momentum. Kentucky’s often a tough out for teams in bowl season, even though they’re usually an underdog, as they fight with an SEC-style grit that the rest of the country is often quite unprepared for. Just ask Louisville.

Cotton Bowl: #9 Missouri vs. #7 Ohio State

When: December 29, 8 pm

Where: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas

Missouri comes into the prestigious Cotton Bowl with a prestigious season, finishing with a 10-2 no one saw coming, and that heavily challenged Georgia for the SEC East. A decade ago the Tigers beat Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl for a 12-win season, and now here they are trying to add another NY6 trophy to the case. Ohio State was spotless all year long before their archrival, Michigan, took the Big Ten, their playoff spot, and pretty much wrecked their season. Ohio State and Michigan sometimes play one-game seasons, and you either finish 1-0 or 0-1. With the way it shook out this year, I think Missouri’s going to have a very strong chance to take this game.

Peach Bowl: #11 Ole Miss vs. #10 Penn State

When: December 30, 12 pm

Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia

The Rebels finished with their second 10-2 regular season in two years, which has been their only 10+ win regular season in the 21st century thus far, and Penn State was perfect against everyone in the Big Ten except the two giants: Ohio State and Michigan. Ole Miss’s only defeats, similarly, were to Alabama and Georgia. Both teams had spectacular seasons where they beat everybody except the heavyweight champions, and if they both left it all on the field, this could be a fantastic football game.

Music City Bowl: Auburn vs. Maryland

When: December 30, 2 pm

Where: Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee

Auburn finished 6-6 in a season that was a factory of disappointment—especially at the end. Don’t expect them to be thrilled to be playing in the Music City. Maryland won some, lost some, and finished with a 7-5 record of neither disappointment or crazy excitement. They just played a football season, and it was good. I think they’ll enjoy their Music City trip a lot more than the Tigers will.

Orange Bowl: #5 Florida State vs. #6 Georgia

When: December 30, 4 pm

Where: Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida

Florida State and Georgia play each other in the College Football Playoff game that’s not a College Football Playoff game, as somehow the Alabama Crimson Tide all by themselves yoinked both teams out of the playoff at the last second after both had been almost cemented into playoff spots all season. Maybe we can call this the “Alabama’s Cruel Twist of Fate” Bowl.

ReliaQuest Bowl: Wisconsin vs. #13 LSU

When: January 1, 12 pm

Where: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida

Wisconsin won some games, lost some games, and finished 7-5 with a couple of good moments here and a couple of not-so-good moments there, and comes in, like Maryland, as an average, 7-5 football team. On the other hand, LSU finished 9-3 as one of the best teams in the country and obliterated most of their competition all season. The Badgers might be in trouble.

Citrus Bowl: #17 Iowa vs. #21 Tennessee

When: January 1, 1 pm

Where: Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida

It was the second Citrus Bowl in three years for the Hawkeyes, who, after playing Kentucky in bowls back-to-back years, swapped them for the Vols, who finished 8-4 in a loaded SEC. Unlike Tennessee, Iowa doesn’t like to score that many points. Unlike Iowa, Tennessee’s only been held under three touchdowns a handful of times this year. This could be a good game.

Rose Bowl (CFP Semifinal): #4 Alabama vs. #1 Michigan

When: January 1, 5 pm

Where: Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California

Well, well, well. What have we here? Two of the greatest programs in the history of college football squared off in the semifinal, with the Crimson Tide going from a home loss to Texas in Week 2 to gunning down the 2-time defending champions and booting them and their 29-game win streak completely out of the playoff less than 24 hours before the field was revealed—and all because they converted a 4th & 31 in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Michigan faces them with their big, bad, 13-0 record because, well, because they beat Ohio State, and so the Big Ten sends the Yellow Team instead of the Red Team. Michigan’s made the playoff three times now, and if they can find a way to prevail against the Tide for their first-ever CFP championship game appearance, no matter what, Georgia can’t stand in their way.