Pat's Picks: Big Finish for the SEC

Coach Pat Dye's final Pat's Picks column of the season looks at the SEC bowl games.

The bowl season ends in New Orleans with two SEC teams competing for the BCS title to conclude what has been a pretty good run for Southeastern Conference teams in postseason play.

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On the disappointing side of SEC bowl games, the Georgia-Michigan State contest is at the top of the list of poor postseason performances by SEC teams. Really and truly, there is no way the Bulldogs should have lost that game to the Spartans.

Michigan State didn't have a point at halftime, but ended up winning 33-30. I have wanted to call Georgia a great defensive football team this season, but a performance like that makes it impossible to do.

You have to give credit to Michigan State's quarterback and offensive line for playing so well in the second half in the comeback victory, but it looked to me like the Georgia defense got tired.

Looking at the SEC teams that had the best performances in the bowl games, Auburn and South Carolina are teams that stand out. The Tigers got their offense going in a 43-24 victory over Virginia and the special teams play was outstanding. South Carolina's defense came through in a 30-13 victory over Nebraska while the offense didn't turn the ball over vs. the Cornhuskers.

Emory Blake's return to close to full speed helped spark the Auburn offense in its Chick-fil-A Bowl victory in Atlanta.

Arkansas deserves mention for its victory over eighth-ranked Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl. The Wildcats put up a good fight, but Arkansas had too much firepower for K-State to overcome. That game improved the SEC's bowl record to 5-2 going into the BCS Championship Game.

It is going to be interesting to see what happens in the title game when LSU and Alabama meet in New Orleans. The first time they played I believe both teams went into the game with equal motivation with both playing as hard as they could.

I think it is part of human nature that after you have already beaten somebody that you will not be as hungry to beat them again in a rematch. Les Miles may be smart enough as a coach to figure out how to get his LSU team back to the peak emotional level they had in Tuscaloosa during the regular season, but it won't be easy.

If the two teams play like they did the first game, LSU is going to win. If they play a little different, I think Alabama is going to win.

I don't think Alabama will be able to run the football consistently on LSU and will have to throw it more. If Alabama's quarterback has a hot hand, and if the linemen can protect him, I?think Alabama will have a chance to win on Monday night.

If LSU struggles to run the football it faces a little different set of circumstances because Jordan Jefferson has a chance to make a play when he drops back to throw a pass and can't find a receiver. He is a quarterback who can make an improvised play with his feet if the passing play breaks down. Alabama's quarterback can't do that. That is something that makes a difference, especially in a close game that could be dominated by the defenses.

Since the BCS matchup was finalized, Alabama has worked every day with a goal of doing everything possible to find a way to win this rematch because of what happened in the regular season meeting. There is no way that LSU can duplicate that.

I think LSU has the best team and is undefeated for good reasons, but I am going to pick Alabama to win the rematch because it is hard to go undefeated. It is hard to go undefeated no matter what schedule a team plays. It is particularly tough to do it against a schedule like the one LSU has faced. You have to have a break or two along way. If that happens for LSU on Monday night and they finish the season with a 14-0 record it will be an impressive finish to an impressive season for the Tigers.

If Alabama wins there ought to be an asterisk on the championship listing because the teams would have a 1-1 head-to-head record and LSU would have the better overall record for the season.

Editor's Note: Coach Dye's record is 81-16 in SEC games and 197-67 overall.


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