What's more remarkable about that SEC record? In all three seasons the SEC teams have been playing up in terms of where they are slotted for bowl games because the BCS has selected two members of the conference each year. That means that the erstwhile second best team in the league has always been the third best, and on down the line. The Big Ten has dealt with the issue each of the last three years to disastrous consequences. As if that weren't enough, other big conferences slot their top non-BCS teams against SEC teams in lower-tier bowl games. I'm looking at you Chik-fil-A Bowl when you draw the SEC's fifth or sixth best representative to take on the ACC's top at-large pick.
After dominating for the past three seasons, college football fans should take a breath, this year 10 SEC teams are playing in bowl games.
So if you want to be safe in your bowl pick 'em leagues, you should have selected at least seven teams from the SEC to win.
It's probably too late for that, but in the event you don't pick until after Christmas, which some bowl pick-ems do, I'm picking them against the spread as the conclusion to my season-long contest with my family's former French exchange student, Audrey.
You'll recall that we've waged an epic struggle all season long. Currently here are our standings:
Audrey has never been to a college football game and I'm currently dominating her by four games in the correct picks column. Plainly, I own France.
Call me de Gaulle.
I've decided to end our competition once and for all with a grand finale, picking all 10 SEC bowl games. So here we go.
But as if picking all 10 against the spread wasn't enough, I've also ranked the 10 games according to confidence points since all the bowl pick' ems require you to do this. (By the way, is this the most complicated challenge that most people compete in every year? How hard is it to keep track of the numbers 1-34 and assign values for bowl games? What's more, isn't picking against the spread for 34 games regardless of what value you place on the game, likely to be difficult enough that there aren't many ties? I mean, no pool that I've ever participated in requires confidence value for the NCAA tournament. Anyway, that's a pet peeve of mine because my wife always shows up a with a paper copy and asks me to fill in the confidence values for her after she's made the pick. And inevitably I get the numbers crossed up somehow.)
In other words, the first game here -- Florida and Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl -- is the easiest game on the board for any SEC team. So wager your mortgage on that one.
1. Florida -11 vs. Cincinnati, Sugar Bowl
The Gators are going to beat Cincinnati so badly that in the post-game news conference Mardy Gilyard is going to say, "Now I understand why Coach Kelly left. If we played in the SEC, we'd have gone 4-4."
Because with that defense, they would have been 4-4 ... at best. Cincy's given up 45, 36, and 44 in three of the past four weeks to vastly inferior offensive talent than they'll see against the Gators. That means the Gators are going to score more than 40 against them.
And if there is one thing we've learned in the past three seasons it's this: SEC defenses, when given a month to prepare for an opponent, can shut down otherwise high-flying offenses. (See, 12, Big; See also, Ten, Big)
Cincinnati, you've been forewarned. Tim Tebow is going to make you worship him.
Okay, maybe not, that violates the Bible.
He's going to proselytize you.
Which sounds so much dirtier than it actually is.
2. Alabama -4 vs. Texas, BCS Title Game
There has been no surer bet in the BCS era than two things: A.) The SEC will win in the BCS title game if they're allowed to play and B.) The SEC will win by at least a touchdown.
Yep, not only is the SEC 5-0 in title games, but they've won all of these games by at least a touchdown. That's a stat that deserves more attention than it receives.
As if that weren't enough, let me toss out two names for you: Nick Saban and Mack Brown.
Who you rolling with if your life depends on one man developing a gameplan for a single game with a month to prepare?
Bama will make it 6-0 and will win by at least a touchdown.
Late Thursday night Lauren Conrad is going to turn to Lo Bosworth and say, "What is with all these bangs in Hollywood tonight?"
And Lo is going to say, "Didn't you read Dixieland Delight? It's totes Bama Bangs."
3. Arkansas -8 vs. East Carolina Liberty Bowl
I'm going to be honest with you, I don't know much about East Carolina. Just that they will be playing in a virtual home stadium for Arkansas since Memphis is the default state capital of Arkansas and Mississippi.
Also, that Bobby Petrino has no compassion and would score 50 points -- while faking punts -- against a charity team fielded by cancer ward patients.
East Carolina is healthier.
Which, in general, is a good thing.
Not against Petrino.
FYI, Arkansas has covered the spread in seven of its last nine games -- and one of those games that they didn't cover was against Eastern Michigan and they scored 63.
East Carolina has neither the offensive firepower nor the stout defense to keep this game close.
After the win, Ryan Mallett is going to text Erin Andrews, "I told you'd we win." And Erin Andrews is going to text back, "Who is this?"
Audrey: East Carolina
4. LSU vs. Penn State -2.5 Capital One Bowl
I have zero doubt that right now LSU has three times as many future NFL players on its roster as Penn State does. So initially I had this game ranked as my 10th most comfortable game and was convinced Les Miles would lose by two and think he won by three.
But want a stat that will blow your mind? Les Miles is 4-0 in bowl games at LSU having outscored his opponents by a total of, wait for it, 157-44 in the process. And his victims have been name programs. He's beaten Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Georgia Tech those four seasons.
All of them by at least two touchdowns.
Yep, that's how screwed up the bowl system is, Les Miles turns into Bear Bryant as soon as the bowl season comes around.
But is this really that surprising when you think about it?
Wouldn't it stand to reason that if you have a month to prepare, the more talented team is likely to win? And that even if you're an idiot, which Miles clearly is, with bowls you get the time you need to put together a gameplan that leads to success.
So you're telling me that I get LSU, the better team, and the points?
Let's all climb aboard the Les Miles express, destination Orlando. Or as Les Miles calls it, "The place where Mickey lives with Pluto."
Audrey: Penn State
5. Ole Miss -3 vs. Oklahoma State, Cotton Bowl
Dexter McCluster will have an entire month off to rest up for Oklahoma State. Why is this important? Because when McCluster is rested, the Rebels are a different team.
Oklahoma State, thanks to their losses on offense to injuries and the NCAA, lacks explosiveness on offense. Unfortunately for them, the Rebels don't. And, oh by the way, Ole Miss is going to dominate the line with their defensive tackles.
The Rebels win big in this game. At least assuming that someone has stuffed Hotty Toddy man in the trunk of the car and hasn't allowed him to make the trip to the Cotton Bowl.
Clay: Ole Miss
Audrey: Ole Miss
6. Kentucky vs. Clemson -7, Music City Bowl
At Kentucky, they put up murals when they win Music City Bowls. At Clemson, they cry quietly in their grits over the fact that they're playing in the Music City Bowl.
Given that the SEC has the best bowl record in America over the past three seasons, you rarely get to take an SEC team and pocket a full touchdown as a cushion against your loss. So I think you have to take Kentucky here. Especially with Clemson coming off two straight losses and Kentucky having turned the Music City bowl into a virtual home game.
Put this another way, would Kentucky be a touchdown underdog if this game was being played in Lexington?
Well, effectively this game is being played in Lexington.
So all the value is with Kentucky.
That's even if you didn't know that Rich Brooks, SEC coach of the year, has won his last three bowl games.
7. South Carolina -3.5 vs. UConn, PapaJohns.com Bowl
Remember when Steve Spurrier used to gig Tennessee fans by saying, "You can't spell citrus without UT?"
Yeah, those were the days.
You know, the days back when Spurrier should have hung up the visor.
Now, wait for it, Spurrier's greatest bowl win in his South Carolina tenure is the Liberty Bowl. At long last he gets a chance to equal his greatest Gamecock season, with a win for the ages in the Papa John's Bowl at Birmingham's Legion Field.
UConn, meanwhile, has lost five games. But all of those losses have been by 4 points or less. Meaning they're going to keep this game close.
But, come on, UConn has two bowl wins in their program history, over Toledo and Buffalo. Plus, my college roommate is a huge UConn fan and if they beat an SEC team I'll never hear the end of it.
Steve Spurrier hasn't sunk this far, has he?
Clay: South Carolina
Audrey: South Carolina
8. Texas A&M v. Georgia, -7 Independence Bowl
Anyone who feels comfortable taking a Georgia team without a defensive coaching staff as a full touchdown favorite over any bowl team is a damn fool.
Not to mention, the Bulldogs are still grieving over the death of Uga VII, the William Henry Harrison of mascots.
Seven points is insanity. Especially when you consider that Vegas has consistently overvalued the Bulldogs all season -- they're 4-8 against the spread -- and will face one of the most damningly inconsistent teams in college football in Texas A&M.
I think Georgia will find a way to win, but I think it will take 35 points and that Texas A&M will score with them. Say, 35-31.
So I'd take Texas A&M giving the points.
And before the e-mails arrive, I'm not transitive property-ing this one -- i.e. Georgia beat Arkansas, which slaughtered Texas A&M.
Georgia's offense under Joe Cox, remember how good he was going to be, the next Chris Leak per Bulldog fans, has not approached that level of performance since. In fact, since putting up 52 against Arkansas, the Bulldogs have not crossed the 35 point threshold against an FBS opponent. So I'm chalking up the Arkansas eruption as a fluke.
The only wildcard in this game: Does burning Willie Martinez in effigy get Bulldog fans so fired up it translates into a crazy Shreveport night?
Clay: Texas A&M
9. Tennessee v. Virginia Tech, -4.5 Chik-fil-A Bowl
Virginia Tech is one of the worst match-ups Tennessee could have drawn. Why? Because I'm convinced Virginia Tech's Ryan Williams is the closest thing to Dexter McCluster out there. And anyone who watched McCluster run all over the Vols has to be extremely nervous about what Williams could do to the Vol defense.
Especially if Tech runs many wildcat formation plays for him.
In the last month of the season Williams rushed for 179, 126, 120, and 183 yards a game. In those games, three of which were away, Virginia Tech won by a combined score of 152-35.
Given the Vols' lack of depth at linebacker, Williams is going to have a huge game.
Not to mention, oh by the way, the Vols have been woeful on special teams -- even before losing their special teams coach to Florida State -- and Frank Beamer's teams are always spectacular in that facet of the game.
I think the Vols' only chance to spring the upset is to get up early and try and force Tech to throw the ball. Otherwise, it's going to be a long night.
And for those who haven't noticed, Williams was one of several backs with better stats than your worst Heisman winner at running back in the past 30 years, Mark Ingram. Look for Williams to make a trip to New York before his career is over. He's that good.
But before that, he's going to run roughshod over the Vols.
Clay: Virginia Tech
10. Northwestern v. Auburn -7 Outback Bowl
Good news for Auburn fans, Gene Chizik got his team to a New Year's bowl game. Now for the bad news for Auburn fans, Chizik was just 1-5 in his last six games against FBS foes.
Based on extensive research -- me sitting around and thinking -- this can't have ever happened before in the history of bowl games. Yep, Auburn becomes the first team to go 1-5 in their final six FBS games and still play on New Year's.
Fortunately for Auburn, they draw Northwestern, the only team in the top half of the Big Ten that the Tigers could be favored by a touchdown over.
But here's the deal, save for a big win on Halloween against Ole Miss, Auburn has been atrocious down the stretch. It's not just that they've lost, it's that Vegas has overvalued them in virtually every game.
I think the same thing has happened here. Especially since Northwestern has shown a propensity for dragging teams down into the muck and playing ugly games. The Wildcats have won games when scoring 17, 16, and 21 points this season.
Given the fact that they have Gus Malzahn on their sideline and he's had a month to prepare some offensive pyrotechnics, I still think Auburn will win, but I think Northwestern will keep the score in the 20's. Lesson: Smart kids can play assignment football on defense and Auburn lacks explosive playmakers when the scheme isn't to its advantage. I think Northwestern will make Auburn nickel and dime them all day long.
Final score is 24-21 Tigers.
But I think Northwestern covers.
In the postgame ceremony Chizik is going to stand up and scream, "I'm still the only coach in the SEC who can bench press 400 yards and lose to Kentucky at home."
His team will stare awkwardly at him, before clapping and turning to the real coach for his postgame speech, Gus Malzahn.
Clay Travis is the author of three books. His latest, "On Rocky Top: A Front Row Seat to The End of an Era" chronicles the 2008 Tennessee football season and is on sale now and makes a great stocking stuffer. Assuming you have rectangular stockings.