The Southeastern Conference has nothing to complain about here. Two of their teams made it to the College Football Playoff. It could potentially be an all SEC National Championship; if Alabama and Georgia are able to defeat Clemson and Oklahoma.
The SEC ended up with nine teams in the 2017 bowl season. Even beyond the College Football Playoff semifinals, there are some intriguing matchups. So, Get Ready and enjoy the postseason for the SEC!
Alabama (11-1) vs Clemson (12-1)
Jan. 1-8:45 pm-ESPN
For the third year in a row we get these two national contenders going toe-to-toe in the College Football Playoff. However, this time it the semifinal game instead of the national championship. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New-Orleans will have an electrifying atmosphere.
The QB matchup of Jalen Hurts vs Kelly Bryant is going to be the storyline here. It was last year that Hurts was in the role of freshman QB proving that he belonged. This time it will be Clemson QB, Kelly Bryant handling the pressure of following behind the footsteps in Deshaun Watson.
Georgia (12-1) vs Oklahoma (12-1)
Jan. 1- 5:00 pm-ESPN
It’s the Heisman Trophy winner, Baker Mayfield, and the high-power Oklahoma Sooners’ offense coming into the Rose Bowl to face Roquan Smith and Georgia’s Junkyard Dawgs defense. The Sooners face the No. 6 ranked defense in the country in Georgia. The Dawgs will try to keep Mayfield from having another monster game. If so, this could be a huge hill for Boomer Sooner to climb.
On the flip side, OU’s defense could be in for a long day, coming giving up more than 25 points per game. The Dawgs have a three-headed running game, featuring Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and D’Andre Swift and they will be tough to hold back.
This will be an an exciting semifinal to watch.
Auburn (10-2) vs UCF (12-0)
Jan. 1- 12:30 pm-ESPN
Auburn faces the UCF, the only unbeaten team in the nation at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. UCF’s former head coach, Scott Frost, who is the new head coach, at Nebraska will indeed coach the Knights in the Peach Bowl.
The Tigers will have its hands full stopping the high-octane offense of UCF. The Knights have averaged 540 yards per game behind QB McKenzie Milton. UCF will be facing an Auburn defense that is ranked No. 17 nationally and giving up just 17 points per game.
Since, the loss to LSU, the Tigers’ offense started to click, averaging 40 points per game over a five-game winning streak. Until the SEC Championship game, where Auburn star RB Kerryon Johnson was not fully healthy, which changed the Tigers’ offense. The key will be if Johnson is completely healthy and ready to place. If not, then UCF could have the potential to make Auburn one-dimensional.
LSU (9-3) vs Notre Dame (9-3)
Jan. 1- 1:00 pm-ABC
This will be one of the best bowls outside of the New Year’s Six/CFP. A rematch of the 2014 Music City Bowl where the Irish stunned LSU. In that game, the Irish came out victorious, this one should go a bit different. Since, the embarrassing loss to Troy, LSU has played much better and could have a 10- win season.
Both teams feature two of the nation’s top running backs in LSU’s Derrius Guice (1,153 yards) and Notre Dame’s Josh Adams (1,386 yards). Look for both offenses to establish their dominance in the run game. I give the momentum to LSU after winning against Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Arkansas. The Irish ended the regular season with losses to Stanford and Miami.
South Carolina (8-4) vs Michigan (8-4)
Jan. 1- 12:00 pm-ESPN2
The Gamecocks are bowling for the ninth time in 10 seasons. Michigan had one of the best defenses in the nation, but a mediocre offense. South Carolina won eight games but still was outgained by 413 yards on the season. The last time these two teams faced off, Jadaveon Clowney was popping the helmet of Vincent Smith into orbit and recovering the fumble, leading to the Gamecock comeback.
Both teams didn’t finish the regular season with wins, Michigan lost to both Wisconsin and Ohio State and South Carolina dropped two of its last four games. Neither offense is very proficient but you should give the edge to the Wolverines, who have the third-ranked defense in the country.
Mississippi State (8-4) vs Louisville (8-4)
Dec. 30- 12:00 pm-ESPN
This bowl game would have been one of the better quarterback battles in the postseason. It would have been 2016 Heisman winner Lamar Jackson against Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald. But with a season-ending injury to Fitzgerald, along with former head coach Dan Mullen and defensive coordinator, Todd Grantham now at Florida. You must wonder what the psyche of the Bulldogs will be.
However, Louisville defense has not been stellar this year under first-year defensive coordinator, who held the same position at Mississippi State a year ago. So, if freshman QB Keytaon Thompson has become comfortable running the Bulldogs’ offense; he might be able to take advantage of Louisville defense.
Louisville average 560 yards per game while MSU’s defense was third behind Alabama and Georgia in the SEC, giving 302 yards per game. Interesting matchup of opposites here and fun to watch.
Kentucky (7-5) vs Northwestern (9-3)
Dec. 29- 4:30 pm-ESPN
It’s a matchup of Wildcats. Northwestern is 21st in the final CFP rankings, but slide in the bowl order. Two high-level running backs will go head-to-head: Kentucky’s Benny Snell Jr. (1,318 yards) vs. Northwestern’s Justin Jackson (1,154 yards, his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season). Northwestern comes in riding a seven-game winning streak. While, Kentucky lost four of its last six games. The UK defense is 12th in the SEC and will have to contain Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson (2,809 yards and 61 percent completion rate).
Texas A&M (7-5) vs Wake Forest (7-5)
Dec. 29- 1:00 pm-ESPN
The Aggies will have an interim coach when they take on the Demon Deacons. Special teams coach, Jeff Banks, will lead the team on an interim basis. Who knows where the Aggies’ mindset will be? Wake has a good offense, an iffy defense. This year, the Demon Deacons are ranked at No. 29, which should bode well for them and dual-threat QB John Wolford. This will be the first time these teams have played in football.
Missouri (7-5) vs Texas (6-6)
Dec. 27- 9:00 pm-ESPN
The Tigers take a six-game winning streak into the game against their former Big 12 rival. The Tigers are going to just their third bowl game in the last six years and the Longhorns will be bowling for the first time in three years. The Drew Lock-to-J’Mon Moore connection should be fun to watch, especially against Texas’ porous pass defense (ranked No. 107 in the FBS).