SEC Bowl Picks

College football's top eight bowls will be played in January, and five of them feature Southeastern Conference teams. That means diehard SEC fans will be spending the first week of the New Year in front of their TV sets. analysts Jeffery Stewart and Randy Moore offer their thoughts and predictions on the five January bowls involving SEC teams below:

Randy's picks:

TENNESSEE VS. PENN STATE (Outback Bowl, Jan. 1): The Nittany Lions trounced the Vols in the 1992 Fiesta Bowl (42-17) and the 1994 Citrus Bowl (31-13). Look for another mismatch but with a different winner this time. Erik Ainge, LaMarcus Coker, Arian Foster, Robert Meachem and Jayson Swain will cause Joe Paterno a lot more pain than his screwed-up knee. Tennessee 31, Penn State 17

AUBURN VS. NEBRASKA (Cotton Bowl, Jan. 1): Playing 12 games in 12 weeks exhausted the Tigers, who were embarrassed by Georgia (37-15 loss) and pushed by Alabama (22-15 win) in their last two regular-season games. Now that they're rested and quarterback Brandon Cox is healthy again, the Tigers should resemble the team that beat LSU and Florida before running out of gas. Auburn 24, Nebraska 16

ARKANSAS VS. WISCONSIN (Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1): The Badgers haven't seen a player as explosive or versatile as Darren McFadden. I suspect they'll spend most of New Year's Day seeing McFadden from behind as he runs by them for one big gain after another. Arkansas 27, Wisconsin 17

LSU VS. NOTRE DAME (Sugar Bowl, Jan. 3): If Charlie Weis and Les Miles would swap teams, I'd pick LSU by a landslide. Weis' knack for winning when he shouldn't and Miles' knack for losing when he shouldn't make this game a lot more interesting to watch but a lot more difficult to handicap. In the end, I think the Tigers' overwhelming talent will overcome their underwhelming coach. LSU 31, Notre Dame 21

FLORIDA VS. OHIO STATE (BCS Title Game, Jan. 8): How many times does a team that edged Vanderbilt by six points (25-19) and nipped South Carolina by one (17-16) get to play for the national title? The Gators' gifted defense will keep this game close but I can't see Chris Leak making enough plays to get them to the Promised Land. Ohio State 20, Florida 14

Jeffery's picks

TENNESSEE VS. PENN STATE (Outback Bowl, Jan. 1): Tennessee has had good success against Big Ten teams in the last 20 years, beating Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio State, Northwestern and Michigan in bowl games since 1981. They also defeated Iowa in the 1987 Pigskin Classic. However the Vols lost badly to Penn State in 1991 and 1993 before the Nittany Lions were a member of the Conference. Penn State has the running game to control the ball and drain the clock. Still this figures to be a game UT will be ready to play and has the athletes to win. Tennessee 27, Penn State 21.

AUBURN VS. NEBRASKA (Cotton Bowl, Jan. 1): With home wins over LSU and Florida the Tigers could have had a much bigger season, but there were those home losses to Arkansas and Georgia that wrecked Tommy Tuberville's best laid plans. This is a good chance for the Tigers to get back on track against a Cornhusker team that has more name than game. Auburn 30, Nebraska 22.

ARKANSAS VS. WISCONSIN (Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1): Two close losses to end the season has exposed Arkansas as a one dimensional team and blunted the momentum of its 10-game winning streak. Will the time off help to regenerate a passing game that rarely received passing marks? Or will the Badgers be able to limit the run as LSU and Florida did? Wisconsin knocked off Auburn in this game last year and Houston Nutt's bowl record isn't impressive, but Darren McFadden is a force of nature with the ball in his hands and that should be enough to carry Arkansas to Hog Heaven.

LSU VS. NOTRE DAME (Sugar Bowl, Jan. 3): This is practically a home game for LSU which is coming in with a lot of momentum. The fast track of the Super Dome should also favor the Tigers who are fast on both sides of the ball. LSU's secondary is good enough to take Notre Dame's receivers out of the game while JaMarcus Russell has the arm to exploit Notre Dame's pass coverage. LSU 38, Notre Dame 31.

FLORIDA VS. OHIO STATE (BCS Title Game, Jan. 8): It's hard to find anyone not clad in blue and orange that really believes the Gators can win this game. Granted it will probably take some breaks, but Florida has a way of making breaks. The Gators have a good air attack and a tough defense, but the Buckeyes are better balanced overall. Ohio State's mobility at quarterback will give Florida's aggressive defense fits. Still this one figures to be more competitive than most expect and could go to the wire. Ohio State 20, Florida 17.

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