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SEC Preview, Bowl Season, Part 2

Yesterday, we tackled Part 1 of the SEC Preview, looking at all the games occurring on or before January 1, 2009.  I was quite surprised to find that the Cotton Bowl was not among those games, and frankly I'm still wondering why.  

January 2, 2009, 1:00pm Central, Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech, Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas

Seriously, I'd like an explanation as to why the Cotton Bowl was moved, and if it had to be moved, why was it moved to such a bad time?  Yes, I know the Cotton Bowl was relegated to a late-morning start on January 1, but at least most people are OFF WORK in the last morning on January 1.  Starting this game in the early afternoon on January 2nd makes this game about as accessible as the Independence Bowl.  As it is, I may not be able to watch this game unless I telecommute.

Anyway, part of me is relieved that LSU is not in this game.  Texas Tech would carve us like a Thanksgiving turkey.  With our poor pass defense we would be vulnerable not just to losing, but to getting blown out.  At least with Georgia Tech we aren't going strength vs. weakness.  

Oh, by the way, Ole Miss is also not particularly strong at defending the pass.  Uh oh.  I think to win this game, Ole Miss will have to generate a monster pass rush.  Otherwise it could be a very long day.

January 2, 2009, 4:00pm Central, Kentucky vs. East Carolina, Liberty Bowl, Memphis, Tennessee

I don't really have much to say about this game.  It's a matchup of a very weak SEC team against a mid-major that started the season very strong with wins over Virginia Tech and West Virginia only to struggle in the middle of the season with bad losses to NC State, Houston, Virginia, and Southern Miss.  After their opening two wins, ECU's biggest win on the season was probably their season finale against Tulsa.  Their coach then spent the bowl prep season trying to find a better job.

ECU has accomplished a lot this season, but they're not exactly an exciting bowl team.  Kentucky is the poster child for people who claim there are too many bowl games.  Kentucky is 6-6, having finished the season on a 3-game losing streak and having lost 6 of their last 8.  Their biggest win on the season was probably their mid-season 1-point victory over Arkansas.  Their offense was terrible, but their defense was actually quite good.  

Once again, with the bad start time, I may not be able to watch the beginning of this one, and frankly I won't be too upset about that.

January 2, 2009, 7:00pm Central, Bama vs. Utah, Sugar Bowl, New Orleans, Louisiana

The big news of the week is that Andre Smith, arguably Bama's best offensive player, has been sent home, allegedly for some sort of improper contact with an agent.  For those of you who don't know, Andre Smith is an All-American left tackle, almost certain to be a top 5 pick if and when he declares for the NFL draft after the season.  When Smith was injured for one game earlier this year, the offense sputtered and stalled against Tulane, leading to a lackluster 20-6 win for the Crimson Tide.

Even without Andre Smith, Bama clearly will win the battle of who looks the best getting off the bus.  Bama will be able to throw bigger and faster athletes at Utah than anyone they've seen this year.  Still, Utah is used to winning, even when faced with good athletes.  This year, they've beaten Oregon State and Michigan, as well as ranked teams TCU and Brigham Young.  I doubt they'll be intimidated.

It'll be an interesting game, but unless something strange happens, Bama should win it.  Strange things often occur, however.

When I get around to it, I'll preview the BCSNCG