The hysteria that has overtaken America regarding the new Star Wars movie is a lot like the madness that surrounds a typical SEC season. As a matter of fact, many of the same fans dressed as Ewoks for the new movie’s premiere will probably also be donning red pants or orange overalls for their favorite team’s bowl game.
The same SEC fans that will be seen shaking cowbells next week could’ve been observed waving a light saber just a few days earlier.
So with that in mind, here’s an SEC bowl preview that only a Star Wars fan could love, or quite possibly understand.
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
After all this time the second oldest Star Wars movie is still the very best, and there’s only one SEC bowl game that has the same potential to keep fans talking about it 30 years later the way Star Wars fans still discuss The Empire Strikes Back. That is, of course, the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Eve between Alabama and Michigan State. As a matter of fact, the surprising way Ohio State made the Crimson Tide look vulnerable in last year’s Sugar Bowl is eerily reminiscent of the way the first Death Star was destroyed. Now everyone wants to know how Nick Saban will respond to last season’s humbling loss. It’s the kind of drama that makes for a worthy comparison to a Hollywood blockbuster’s sequel.
Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi
The final installment of the original Star Wars trilogy is well known for providing the last appearance of Darth Vader, speaking strictly from a storyline standpoint. The SEC bowl game that comes the closest to offering the same kind of farewell is the Belk Bowl on Dec. 30 between NC State and Mississippi State, as an all-time great plays his final game. Of course, Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott isn’t an intergalactic villain with mystical powers, but he is an iconic figure to MSU fans. Saying goodbye to Prescott will be a memorable moment for those Bulldogs fans, even if Prescott’s finale ends up being a little different than Vader’s.
Episode IV: A New Hope
The original Star Wars movie is actually only the third best film in the series. However, it’s greatly respected because of it’s place in cinematic history. This is similar to how SEC fans feel about the Sugar Bowl. It’s a game that’s a big deal even if it doesn’t rank among the best matchups in a given season, and this year it’s a safe bet to assume Ole Miss fans will be partying on Bourbon Street like those weird space creatures in A New Hope’s famous cantina scene.
Episode VII: The Force Awakens
The newest Star Wars movie is really good, but it’s still too early to know if it will be thought of as a classic. This is also the way Florida fans feel about Jim McElwain at the moment, which adds to the intrigue of Florida’s Citrus Bowl showdown against Michigan on New Year’s Day. McElwain, no doubt, wants to end his first season on a high note after offensive struggles contributed to a Gators loss to Florida State to close out the regular season and then to Alabama in the SEC Championship game. Finding out if Florida can indeed finish the season in a positive fashion and find some ability to move the football against a stout Wolverines defense makes this a game worth tuning in to see.
Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Almost everyone saw both these movies, but the films were so uneventful that almost no one remembers a thing about either one. That’s also the way a lot of SEC bowl games will be this year. The Texas Bowl between LSU and Texas Tech on Dec. 29, the Music City Bowl between Texas A&M and Louisville on Dec. 30, and the TaxSlayer Bowl on Jan. 2 between UGA and Penn State are not likely to be memorable affairs. In fact, instead of R2-D2, these bowls could have fans asking RU-bored-2?
Episode I: The Phantom Menace
The absolute worst Star Wars movie is a perfect companion for this year’s Birmingham Bowl. Simply put: Auburn vs. Memphis is the Jar Jar Binks of college football games.