Bowl season is very exciting. Host cities want excitement to lure fans in droves, teams want it to build momentum for next season, and bowl-game sponsors want it to spike sales.
If you caught the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, for example, undoubtedly the excitement prompted you to stock up on Gildan products following the game. Never heard of Gildan before? Me, neither. Its website beckons you to “click here to purchase socks and underwear for yourself.” Hmmm, tempting.
So what does the very exciting bowl season have in store for the SEC? With nine teams from the nation’s finest football conference going bowling and Alabama representing the SEC in its bid for a seventh straight national title, let’s tour the SEC bowl games and ponder the excitement of bowl season, SEC Banter style.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Vanderbilt, as you know, is located in Nashville. Vanderbilt’s reward for winning nine games for the first time in nearly 100 years? A trip to . . . Nashville! Despite the staycation, the scrappy ’Dores should handle N.C. State and tie a bow on one of the better SEC stories of the year.
Chick-fil-A Bowl: LSU expected a return to the Georgia Dome this year – just not on New Year’s Eve. But if the Bayou Bengals come to play they’ll defuse an explosive Clemburn offense.
If you’re wondering who Clemburn is, you missed the recent announcement that Auburn and Clemson have heeded my repeated calls to merge their fine institutions of higher education.
Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl: It’s Mississippi State vs. Northwestern in an epic showdown on New Year’s Day. Honestly, if you tune into this one, either your son is playing in the game or you’re very disinterested in your home life.
Either way, the excitement is sure to reach a fever pitch in Jacksonville!
Brief aside: Ever notice how women use exclamation points on every email or text message they send? “We’ll have whatever pizza toppings y’all want! We love pepperoni!” Even the routine comes with exclaimed excitement: “See you at 4 for coffee!”
Outback Bowl: Self-declared excitement aside, this South Carolina-Michigan matchup is one of the season’s underrated bowl games. The teams that beat Sakerlina and Meeshigan have a combined record of 67-7. Hopefully South Carolina will notch its 11th win for the second time in school history.
Capital One Bowl: The Dawgs were ten seconds and eight yards away from playing for their first national title in over thirty years. That gut-wrenching loss plus Georgia’s poor bowl-game outings the last two years means the excitement level is down for facing Nebraska in Orlando. But if UGA is halfway-over the Bama game it should rather easily take care of business against the Cornhuskers.
Allstate Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. Louisville in the Big Easy. A captivating contest between the Gators and Cardinals because . . . uh, no. This game stinks and even SEC Banter can’t make it interesting.
AT&T Cotton Bowl: Johnny Heisman faces Texas A&M’s old Big 12 nemesis, Oklahoma, in Big D. These historic rivals haven’t met since . . . last year. The Aggies should represent the SEC well as they have all year and depart Jerry World victorious.
BBVA Compass Bowl: First-year Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze has turned the Rebels around surprisingly quickly. The Rebs will pick up a win over Pitt if they can overcome the huge contingent of Pitt fans who travel to Birmingham to watch their 6-6 football team in the Compass Bowl.
Discover BCS National Championship: In this exhibition match following the SEC National Championship Game earlier this month, Alabama will claim the conference’s seventh consecutive national title and beat an overrated Notre Dame team. (And yes, Irish fans, I’ve heard you and will come back to eat crow if I’m wrong.)
Enjoy bowl season and best of luck to your SEC team. In the meantime, I didn’t get any socks or underwear for Christmas. Think I’ll check out that Gildan website and honcho me some. I’m very excited about it!
Ben Prevost is a contributing columnist for The Times. Follow him on Twitter @SECbanter or contact him at SECbanter@hotmail.com.