December 9, 2022

Teams with the most to prove during bowl season

FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2018, file photo, Alabama head coach Nick Saban leads his team on the field before the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Georgia in Atlanta. Neither No. 1 Alabama nor No. 4 Georgia is anxiously awaiting their playoff fates this season, but whoever wins the SEC championship game showdown is definitely in the playoffs. The Crimson Tide could even get in with a close loss.(AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

Talk about having a year of disappointment. Each team underachieved after having lofty expectations for the regular season, but can prove themselves worthy with a great performance in their bowl games. Still, that’s easier said than done with each program having very little to gain and everything to lose. Regardless of the matter a victory would eliminate some of the anxiety from the fan bases and establish some momentum heading into the off season.

Texas: The Longhorns came into the 2019 season as a top-10 team with National Title aspirations. Everyone thought Tom Herman had Texas a year ahead of schedule, especially after the Sugar Bowl win over Georgia. However, the team regressed, losing four of their last seven games. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger went from being a Heisman hopeful to only earning All-Big 12 honorable mention. The Longhorns’ defense was the big reason for the team’s failures. The unit allowed opposing offenses to score 30 or more points in six of the team’s first eight games. Now Texas squares off against a ticked off Utah team looking to air out their frustration in the Alamo Bowl. Not to mention Texas has had four or more losses in each year of Herman’s tenure, but they can salvage their season by beating the No. 12 Utes, but a loss would linger well into the 2020 season.

Alabama: For the first time in the Playoff era the Crimson Tide failed to reach post season glory. Alabama lost star signal-caller Tua Tagovailoa to a gruesome injury and never recovered. Watching LSU clinch the West was one thing, but losing a shootout to Auburn was flat out devastating. This was supposed to have been a team on a vengeance after getting blown out by Clemson in the National Championship game. However, that hasn’t been the case. Matt Jones was a glorified game manager in the loss to Auburn. Not to mention the Crimson Tide’s defense hasn’t been the dominant group that gained notoriety under Saban. Now the team’s backs are against the wall in the Citrus Bowl against Michigan. No star players decided to sit out this bowl, but you have to wonder if they even want to be there, considering all of the team’s recent success.  No doubt the Crimson Tide got their fair share of humble pie, but the team could reestablish themselves as one of the top brands in the sport with a victory over the Wolverines.

Michigan: It was another year of Jim Harbaugh losing to the hated Buckeyes and no Big Ten Championship appearance. In hindsight Harbaugh seems to be wearing out his welcome after four years of high expectations ending with conference titles. Quarterback Shea Patterson was supposed to be the missing piece that the team needed to get over the hump, but that never materialized. Not to mention Michigan has lost its’ last three bowl games. Having to face Alabama will be a tough task for Harbaugh’s team, but also a great opportunity for Michigan to show it’s still a force to be reckoned with. Harbaugh still has the Wolverines light years ahead of where Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke had them. Being one of the game’s highest-paid coaches Michigan fans need Harbaugh to deliver something special to establish some sort of buzz heading into the 2020 season. Still, watching two of the biggest blue bloods in the sport square off is a treat to all of the College Football fanatics.

Georgia: It remains to be seen if the Bulldogs have reached their ceiling with Kirby Smart. Georgia has become a National Title or bust type of program. Yes Georgia has dominated the East division, but has failed to win the big one that matters the most. Smart has recruited like a monster and clearly has one of the most talented teams in the nation. However, Georgia continues to lose games it shouldn’t, including the embarrassing home loss to South Carolina. A team that has been chasing Alabama for the past two seasons is now chasing LSU. Smart wants to keep the Bulldogs near the top of the food chain in the SEC, but the team needs consistency. Georgia failed to show up against Texas in the team’s last bowl and there’s speculation of whether the team wants to play Baylor in the Sugar Bowl after falling one game short of reaching the Playoffs. Baylor is definitely happy to be in a New Years Six so Georgia will be getting the team’s best and needs to be ready.