The bowl slate is now available. Here is the full SEC schedule:
Gaylord Music City: Boston College vs. Vanderbilt
Chick-fil-a: LSU vs. Georgia Tech
Outback: South Carolina vs. Iowa
Capital One: Georgia vs. Michigan State
Liberty: Kentucky vs. East Carolina
Sugar: Alabama vs. Utah
Cotton: Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech
BCS Championship: Florida vs. Oklahoma
The national media will closely observe these games to discern whether or not the SEC is truly as down as it seems. Frankly, I don't like the SEC's chances of getting out of the bowl season with only two losses like last year. Alabama will likely be a heavy favorite against Utah and Georgia will likely be a small favorite against Michigan State. Carolina-Iowa and Florida-Oklahoma look like pushes at first glance. However, the SEC participants in the other four games will likely be underdogs, and I could see Boston College-Vandy, LSU-Georgia Tech, and Ole Miss-Texas Tech ending in blowout wins for the SEC teams' opponents. As SEC fans, we can hope for the best, but a .500 winning percentage is as high as I'm willing to predict at this point.
As for the Gamecocks, I think Iowa will be a great test for a team that's eagerly trying to go into the off-season with some momentum. The Hawkeyes are 8-4 and probably best known for upsetting Penn State, a win that in hindsight kept the Nittany Lions out of the national title game. They've been very hot down the stretch, having won five out of their last six. All of their losses are by less than a TD. Like us, the Hawkeyes sport a powerful defense; the most points they've given up this year is 27 in a three-point loss to the Zooker and Illinois. They'll prove a stiff test for Stephen Garcia and our struggling offense. I'll have a more in-depth analysis of Iowa up sometime later this week.
This will be South Carolina's 14th bowl appearance. The Gamecocks are 4-9 all-time, although we've done better lately, having won four of our last five after losing our first eight.