SEC Bowl Picks - Part II

Five SEC Football teams will take to the field on New Year's Day looking to end the season on a high note and create momentum for recruiting, the off-season program and spring practices. It'll definitely be a bowl season for conference bragging rights since three of the SEC teams will face squads from the Big Ten.

Outback Bowl, Tennessee vs. Wisconsin --- Three weeks ago I would have taken Tennessee and its speed in a battle of two teams that are disappointed to be playing where they are. However, since the bids came out, the boys from Rocky Top have lost six key players. Plus, Offensive Coordinator David Cutcliffe is getting ready for the top job at Duke and receivers coach Trooper Taylor has moved on to Oklahoma State. Supporters of Taylor are upset that the Vols top recruiter was not given the coordinator job. So Tennessee is distracted, depleted and divided. Wisconsin, on the other hand, has a strong power running offense that should be able to capitalize on Tennessee's biggest weakness. It comes down to Wisconsin's running versus the Vols passing, but I just think the Vols have too much baggage.

Wisconsin 28 Tennessee 24

Cotton Bowl, Arkansas vs. Missouri ---
Another tough one to pick with all the turmoil in Fayetteville, but I have a feeling the transition and all will actually help the Razorbacks. Missouri has to be angry that Kansas is basking in the South Florida sun while they are visiting the Texas Book Depository. Missouri might be the better team, but their run defense is shabby and Arkansas runs the ball as well as anyone. There will be plenty of points, but Darren McFadden goes out with a bit of a surprising win.

Arkansas 45 Missouri 37

Capital One Bowl, Florida vs. Michigan ---
Offensively the Gators are as good as any team in the country right now. They have more speed, more weapons and create more match-up problems than anyone else in college football. Michigan has faced three really talented offenses this year and lost to all three, giving up 110 points in the process. Florida is better than Oregon, Wisconsin or Appalachian State and should top 40. The real question in this game is how will Florida's defense fare against a Michigan offense that has the ability to pound the ball on the ground? Florida's run defense has been strong most of the year, but couldn't get the key stops in their three losses. Chad Henne (1,565 14/7), Mike Hart (1,232, 12) and Mario Manningham (67, 1,096, 11) are all capable playmakers, but the key to this game isn't any of those guys. To me, it's Michigan's offensive line, led by All-American tackle Jake Long that will determine how competitive this game is. If the Wolverines can dominate the line of scrimmage and play keep away, the Gators could be in for a battle. But if Florida can get up on the scoreboard and make Michigan play catch up, the Gators could win big.

Florida 41 Michigan 27

Sugar Bowl, Georgia vs. Hawaii ---
Utah and Boise State have shown us what can happen if you take a team from a lesser conference lightly in a BCS game. Georgia needs to remember that lesson against a high scoring Hawaii team. Certainly the Rainbows are not nearly the team Georgia is, but they are thrilled to be on this stage while Georgia is still trying to figure out how it was No. 4 in the country, two higher ranked teams lost and they dropped to No. 5. If Georgia is focused and motivated they will crush the Islanders, but if not this could be rather entertaining.

Georgia 38 Hawaii 30

BCS Championship, LSU vs. Ohio State ---
You know the folks at "runner up U" are getting tired of this. The Buckeyes not only lost the football and basketball title games to the Gators last school year, they also lost the NCAA Men's Soccer Championship Game. Ohio State comes into this one with as shabby a resume as I can remember for a team playing for a title. Ohio State's 14-3 win over Michigan is its most impressive win of the season, while LSU has played a slew of games against better competition. LSU will have a healthier Matt Flynn, which is important. They also have a healthy Glenn Dorsey, which is huge. The Buckeyes don't seem any faster than the team that couldn't keep up with the speed of the SEC a year ago and I see no reason for that to change.

LSU 27 Ohio State 16

So I'm picking the SEC to win seven of nine bowl games. If I'm wrong, next year's picks are absolutely free!

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel


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