In games involving non-SEC teams, the Fiesta Bowl featuring Oklahoma State and Stanford, each with just one loss, looks like a great matchup. Wisconsin vs. Oregon, both with 11-2 records, features a contrast in styles. That should make for good viewing in the Rose Bowl game.
Here is a look at games involving SEC teams and other interesting bowl matchups:
Mississippi State (6-6) vs. Wake Forest (6-6) at Music City Bowl, Nashville--There probably isn't a whole lot of difference in these teams, but I am going to pick Mississippi State because the Bulldogs play in a conference with better competition than Wake Forest faces in the ACC.
Vanderbilt (6-6) vs. Cincinnati (9-3) at the Liberty Bowl, Memphis--I like Vanderbilt's quarterback and the job Coach James Franklin has done in Nashville this year. I think the Commodores have improved enough to win this game, even against a Cincinnati team that played well this season in the Big East.
South Carolina (10-2) vs. Nebraska (9-3) at Capital One Bowl, Orlando--I think South Carolina has steadily improved and the key to that happening has been the play of quarterback Connor Shaw. Both teams have good defenses, but Nebraska has trouble throwing the football. South Carolina has improved its passing in recent games with Shaw directing the attack and that will be the difference in the game and mean another bowl victory for an SEC team.
Georgia (10-3) vs. Michigan State (10-3) at the Outback Bowl, Tampa--Georgia's running game has been inconsistent and that has certainly been the case with freshman running back Isaiah Crowell. He hasn't always shown up in the big games, but I still like Aaron Murray at quarterback combined with the Georgia defense. I think those factors will allow the Bulldogs to win this game although Michigan State has a good football team. This should be a heck of a game and could go either way.
Florida (6-6) vs. Ohio State (6-6) at the Gator Bowl, Jacksonville, Fla.--Urban Meyer's old team faces the team he is taking over so that is the major storyline in this game. It has been a less than stellar season for both teams. I will pick Florida because SEC teams tend to do well in bowls and Big 10 teams don't, but this year's Florida team hasn't done much to inspire confidence in picking the Gators.
Arkansas (10-2) vs. Kansas State (10-2) at the Cotton Bowl, Arlington, Tex.--The job Coach Bill Snyder has done at K-State since coming out of retirement is one of the great stories in college football this year. His team could defeat Arkansas, even though they aren't as talented, because the Wildcats have been figuring out ways to beat people. However, the bottom line is that Arkansas has so much firepower on offense the Razorbacks should be able to outscore Kansas State.
Wisconsin (11-2) vs. Oregon (11-2) in the Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.--I like the Badgers even though Oregon has more speed and a lot of big-play potential. I think the overall team strength Wisconsin brings into this game will trump the Oregon offense, which is not an easy thing to do. This should be an entertaining game to watch.
Oklahoma State (11-1) vs. Stanford (11-1) at the Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, Ariz.--I like this Oklahoma State team for a variety of reasons. The receivers are impressive and the quarterback is really good. Also, Oklahoma State's defense has been able to come up with takeaways. Stanford may win this football game, but I think the Cowboys will come out on top with their speed on offense, which should result in some big plays.
Michigan (10-2) vs. Virginia Tech (11-2) at the Sugar Bowl, New Orleans--This should be a close game and one I am looking forward to watching. Coach Brady Hoke deserves a lot of credit for getting the Michigan program turned back in a positive direction. Frank Beamer has always done a great job at Virginia Tech. I will go with Beamer and Virginia Tech to win a close one.
Clemson (10-3) vs. West Virginia (9-3) in the Orange Bowl, Miami--Although Clemson has been inconsistent the Tigers regrouped and performed well in the ACC Championship Game to earn this BCS bowl trip. Unless the Tigers beat themselves with mistakes I think they will earn their 11th win against the Big East representative in Miami.
Auburn vs. Virginia at Chick-fil-A Bowl, Atlanta--I predict it will be a close game that could go down to the wire, but I believe Coach Gene Chizik will have his team ready to play and that Auburn will defeat the Cavaliers. Virginia has the better record, but Auburn has played the more challenging schedule.
In addition to picking up their eighth win of the season, and extending their bowl winning streak to five-in-a-row, the Tigers can finish the season with a boost of confidence for the 2012 season. For a team featuring so many young players that is something worth battling to achieve.
Editor's Note: Coach Dye's record is 81-16 in SEC games and 197-67 overall.