SEC football bowl season is over, and one game remains — Alabama in Monday’s national championship game.
Conference teams were 6-6, bolstered by an encouraging 4-1 run during bowl weeks. However, several teams played below their strength. That often happens when 12 of 14 conference teams appear in bowl games.
Here are all 12 SEC bowl performances ranked from best to worst.
12. Vanderbilt Commodores
Lost 41-17 to North Carolina State in the Independence Bowl
Making a bowl game for the first time since coach James Franklin left was a tremendous accomplishment. Unfortunately, the Commodores’ performance was not.
Quarterback Kyle Shurmur threw three interceptions and the defense allowed 13 or more points in each of the last three quarters. The game was never in doubt, even though N.C. State was, like Vandy, a mediocre team.
11. Arkansas Razorbacks
Lost 35-24 to No. 22 Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl
At first blush, losing to a ranked opponent isn’t that big a deal. It looks much worse when taking into account that Arkansas blew a 24-0 halftime lead. It was a complete collapse.
The defense allowed touchdowns on five of the Hokies’ first seven possessions in the second half. The offense’s second-half drive chart: fumble, punt, interception, interception, punt, punt, fumble, punt. That’s a recipe for disaster.
10. Texas A&M Aggies
Lost 33-28 to Kansas State in the Texas Bowl
It’s hard to come up with a bigger mismatch than these teams. Texas A&M recruited seven 5-star prospects since moving to the SEC in 2012. Kansas State has not recruited a high school 4-star player since 2007.
It didn’t matter. K-State QB Jesse Ertz, who once was given an offer from Western Illinois, led the Wildcats with a touchdown pass and two TD runs. Surely the Aggies wish their first game in years against a former Big 12 opponent went better.
9. Kentucky Wildcats
Lost 33-18 to Georgia Tech in the TaxSlayer Bowl
The Wildcats gave up a 41-yard fumble return for touchdown in the game’s first two minutes. It didn’t get much better from there.
Kentucky trailed 20-3 at the half, with only a 37-yard field goal. Later, big plays by Stephen Johnson helped make things interesting, but the game was never in doubt. It was a building opportunity for Mark Stoops — he can finally sell recruits on results.
8. Auburn Tigers
Lost 35-19 to No. 7 Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl
Granted, this game deserves an asterisk after quarterback Sean White tried to play despite breaking his passing arm. When White went out, the Auburn offense went with him.
However, Auburn’s defense struggled to stop Baker Mayfield and Joe Mixon, and that showed in the final score. Losing to a Big 12 team never looks good.
7. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Won 17-16 over Miami (Ohio) in the St. Petersburg Bowl
It took a miracle on a blocked field-goal try for the Bulldogs to win in what was a disappointing performance.
The Bulldogs came into the game with an 81 percent chance to win the game per ESPN FPI, the highest of any bowl game in the country. This shouldn’t have been close.
6. Georgia Bulldogs
Won 31-23 over TCU in the Liberty Bowl
This was, surprisingly, a tight game, considering the Horned Frogs were just 6-6. However, Georgia took full advantage of an inconsistent Kenny Hill.
Jacob Eason matched Hill’s two touchdowns, while Sony Michel and Nick Chubb broke out for a combined 229 yards and two touchdowns. Putting the game away late was a nice touch.
5. South Carolina Gamecocks
Lost 46-39 to South Florida in the Birmingham Bowl
The Gamecocks were a significant underdog in the Will Muschamp’s South Carolina bowl debut, but a surprising offensive surge made things interesting. After going down 22-7, the Gamecocks scored 15 consecutive points in the fourth to send the game to overtime.
True freshman QB Jake Bentley impressed with 390 yards and three touchdowns passing. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel added 190 yards and a touchdown catch.
4. Tennessee Volunteers
Won 38-24 over Nebraska in the Music City Bowl
Things could get tougher as several of Tennessee’s top playmakers leave the program. But for one night, the Volunteers were clicking.
Josh Dobbs compiled 409 yards and four touchdowns, three rushing, in a flawless final performance for Rocky Top. Wideout Josh Malone added 120 yards and a touchdown catch in his last game. It’s a nice momentum boost for Butch Jones headed into the offseason.
3. Alabama Crimson Tide
Won 24-7 over No. 4 Washington in the Peach Bowl
The Crimson Tide played at a lefty level, but Lane Kiffin’s offense was surprisingly inconsistent. Other than RB Bo Scarbrough, the rest of the team averaged 3.2 yards per play.
Washington was surprisingly salty on defense, but Alabama had too much firepower. New offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will have a chance to put his imprint on the team in Jan. 9’s national title game against Clemson.
2. Florida Gators
Won 30-3 over Iowa in the Outback Bowl
The offense was inconsistent as usual, but defense and special teams ensured this game never became tight. Kicker Eddy Pineiro continued to be a Gators MVP, knocking in three field goals, including a 48-yarder. Chauncey Gardner added a pick-6 against Iowa QB C.J. Beathard.
How aggressive was Florida’s defense? Beathard threw for just 55 yards and three interceptions on 23 pass attempts.
1. LSU Tigers
Won 29-9 over No. 13 Louisville in the Citrus Bowl
Picking between the top two teams was difficult, but LSU got the edge thanks to its complete team performance in an upset.
LSU held Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson without a touchdown for the first time as a starter, and to just 3.5 yards per play. Jackson averaged 8.0. Danny Etling and Derrius Guice also ensured that LSU fans know the offense is in good hands headed into the 2017 season.