SEC Bowl Picks

Nine Southeastern Conference football teams are going bowling this year, which means InsideTennessee.com analysts Jeffery Stewart and Randy Moore will get two more chances to showcase their prognosticating skills.

This week they're picking the four December bowl games involving SEC teams. Next week they'll share their insights regarding the five January bowl games featuring SEC teams.

Stewart won the regular-season title, finishing at 76-13 for a sizzling 85.4 percent success rate. Moore ran a close second, going 73-16 for an 82.0 percent rate.

Here are their SEC picks for the pre-New Year's Day bowls:

Jeffery's picks:

ALABAMA VS. OKLAHOMA STATE (Dec. 28, Independence Bowl): This position must seem eerily familiar to Alabama acting head coach, and defacto defensive coordinator, Joe Kines. After all he stepped in as head coach at Arkansas back in 1992 when Frank Broyles told Jack Crowe to hit the road Jack, after the Razorbacks were upset in the season opener by the Citadel. Kines took over at Arkansas after one game that year and now he takes over at Alabama with one game left in the season. That should prevent him from hiring Danny Ford as a consultant only to have him hired as head coach at the end of the season. But that might a good idea since Ford is one of Bear's boys, who won a national championship at Clemson and should be well rested since leaving Arkansas in 1997. Oh well... it is a fun fantasy anyway. As to the game: Alabama had some bad luck this year and seemed to wear down as the year wore on. The time off will have the Crimson Tide ready to roll in what used to be known as the Weedeater Bowl. Alabama 24, Oklahoma State 20.

KENTUCKY VS. CLEMSON (Dec. 29, Music City Bowl): Any year that ends in any bowl game is a great year in Lexington. It was enough to save Rich Brooks job and that sets up an interesting dynamic. The Wildcats were motivated to have a big year by Brooks hot seat status. Now that his position is assured will the team still play with a sense of purpose. Probably. But it won't be enough to beat a Clemson club that explosive on offense and stingy on defense. As UT fans recall Tommy Bowden is pretty good at preparing his team for bowl games. Clemson 33, Kentucky 20.

SOUTH CAROLINA VS. HOUSTON (Dec. 29, Liberty Bowl): After stumbling down the stretch with four losses in five games, South Carolina will be motivated to win this one. Ditto for Steve Spurrier who has signed an extension and appears destined to finish his storied coaching career in Columbia. Gamecock fans travel well and should provide a home field advantage. Houston isn't a bad team but this is a step up in competition. South Carolina 31, Houston 27.

GEORGIA VS. VIRGINIA TECH (Dec. 30, Chick-fil-A Bowl): Since this is something of a home game for Georgia perhaps the Bulldogs should put some plastic hedges along the sidelines to simulate conditions in Athens. The problem is that Virginia Tech is the host team and will be strongly represented. The Hokies are also a good bowl team having knocked off No. 15 Louisville in last year's Gator Bowl and taking unbeaten Auburn to the limit in a 16-13 setback in the 2004 Sugar Bowl. This match up could be a defensive stalemate in which Virginia Tech's special teams will play a prominent role. Virginia Tech 21, Georgia 16.

Randy's picks:

ALABAMA VS. OKLAHOMA STATE (Dec. 28, Independence Bowl): The Tide is operating without a head coach ... much as it did during the 2006 regular season. Defensive coordinator Joe Kines is filling in for fired head man Mike Shula. I'm not sure Kines is any better than Shula but I doubt he could be any worse. No one knows how Bama's players will respond to the coaching upheaval, but a loss would mean a losing record (6-7), so that should provide some motivation. Alabama 20, Oklahoma State 17

KENTUCKY VS. CLEMSON (Dec. 29, Music City Bowl): Kentucky was one of the "feel-good" stories in college football this season. Big Blue fans have been waiting a long time for a reason to cheer, and this overachieving team gave them plenty of reason. I'd love to see the Cinderella Story continue for one more game but I just don't see it happening because of UK's porous defense. Clemson 31, Kentucky 24

SOUTH CAROLINA VS. HOUSTON (Dec. 29, Liberty Bowl): Steve Spurrier played musical chairs at quarterback and didn't get a whole lot of clutch play from his offense or his defense in 2006. Sounds like UT's Phil Fulmer in 2005, doesn't it? The Ol' Ball Coach lost to Missouri in the Independence Bowl last year, so I suspect he'll be more focused this time. That's why I look for the Gamecocks to cold-cock the Cougars. South Carolina 30, Houston 17

GEORGIA VS. VIRGINIA TECH (Dec. 30, Chick-fil-A Bowl): Georgia wasn't nearly as good as its 8-4 record suggests, losing to the likes of Kentucky and Vanderbilt, while squeaking by against Colorado (14-13) , Ole Miss (14-9), Mississippi State (27-24) and Georgia Tech (15-12). Mark Richt is a fine coach but Tech's Frank Beamer is no slouch. Both teams are outstanding in the kicking game but the Dawgs have a prohibitive home-field advantage playing in Atlanta. Georgia 24, Virginia Tech 20


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