Bowl season gets underway this weekend, but we'll have to wait until Dec. 29 for the first game featuring an SEC team. There are plenty of intriguing matchups on tap, but which ones are our reporters most looking forward to?
Edward Aschoff: The Outback Bowl between Tennessee and Northwestern has a chance to be very fun. You have Northwestern’s stout defense, which barely gave up 300 yards per game and forced 21 turnovers, taking on a Tennessee offense that finished the season averaging 35 points and 431.8 yards during its five-game winning streak. Joshua Dobbs finally gets to play against another top-notch defense, so we’ll really find out how far he’s come as a passer in 2015.
David Ching: For sheer entertainment value, the team I primarily cover -- LSU -- has arguably the SEC’s most intriguing non-playoff matchup. I look forward to seeing how the Tigers handle Texas Tech’s high-scoring offense in the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl, plus how in the world the Red Raiders’ defense will contend with Leonard Fournette. On a personal level, Auburn returning to Legion Field for the Birmingham Bowl will fire up the nostalgia machine. As an Auburn alum and native Alabamian, I think it’s great that Auburn will finish a disappointing season with an appearance in the old stadium where it played so many historic games.
Sam Khan Jr.: LSU and Texas Tech in the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl. How many yards could Leonard Fournette rush for? The nation's best pound-for-pound running back will face the Red Raiders' 125th-ranked run defense, which allows 271.8 rushing yards per game. On the flip side, if you haven't seen Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes, tune in because the guy is legit: 4,283 passing yards, 32 touchdown passes, 485 rushing yards and 10 TD runs. He's one of the best dual-threat QBs in the country.
Greg Ostendorf: There are plenty of intriguing matchups, but I’m going with the Belk Bowl. It’s not as much about the two teams, Mississippi State and North Carolina State, but more about it being Dak Prescott’s final college game. In a league where the quarterback play has been lacking for a couple years now, Prescott has been the exception. He’s always worth the price of admission, and I think he finishes his career on a high note.
Alex Scarborough: So how does Les Miles feel after escaping the mob that came after him? And how does Leonard Fournette feel after not being invited to the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York? If anything, those two should enter the bowl game against Texas Tech with something to prove. Fournette could run wild against one of the worst rush defenses in the country. If he goes for 151 yards, he'll be the second player to break what used to be Herschel Walker's SEC rushing record this season. But will Miles, who has been chastised for his inability to develop a passing game, try to show that Brandon Harris really can move the ball downfield?