Alabama head coach Nick Saban
Bowl season is almost here, but with only two weeks left in the regular season, the SEC bowl picture is about as clear as a mud hole.
Alabama and Georgia still have hopes of a berth in the BCS National Championship Game, and there's even an outside shot of Florida making it in and creating the second straight SEC vs. SEC title game.
With two weeks to go before the SEC Championship Game, the bowl picture will start to clear up sooner rather than later.
Where will your favorite team spend the holidays? Our SEC bowl projections are in this slide show.
*The SEC will not have enough bowl-eligible teams to fulfill its bowl agreements
Alabama QB AJ McCarron
Alabama may have faint title hopes, but relying on two of the three undefeated teams that are eligible for the postseason may be too much to ask.
Winning the SEC Championship Game over Georgia and earning a spot in the Sugar Bowl vs. the high-octane Clemson Tigers would be a nice consolation.
The Crimson Tide defense was exposed a little bit over the last two weeks, and it was clear that they walked into Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday afternoon a little overconfident vs.Texas A&M.
Consider that a wake up call.
Alabama will get back on track against Western Carolina and Auburn, and roll into the Georgia Dome focused and ready to take home its first SEC championship since 2009.
The matchup in the Sugar Bowl with Clemson will provide a big-game atmosphere with differing styles. It will definitely be worth the price of admission.
Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
Texas A&M is like the new girl in school or the beautiful girl who just walked into the bar shortly before last call.
Prior to upsetting Alabama 29-24 on Saturday, the Aggies were all sizzle and no steak. All that changed in about four hours at Bryant-Denny Stadium, and that may land the Aggies in a BCS bowl.
Raise your hand if you saw that coming in their first season in the SEC (put your hand down, no you didn't).
The No. 8 Aggies are 8-2 now, and will likely finish 10-2 with a Heisman Trophy finalist on their roster. That's a big draw for any bowl game, and the Fiesta Bowl won't pass on the opportunity to capitalize on the "Johnny Football" hype.
The Aggies will square off against former Big 12 foe Oklahoma, which will earn an at-large bid after Kansas State runs the table and makes the BCS National Championship Game.
Florida RB Mike Gillislee
Florida narrowly escaped a challenge from the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns last weekend, which would have significantly damaged its bowl hopes.
But a win is a win, and while the Gators may not have accomplished all that they wanted to in terms of developing a functional passing game, it did survive and advance—and from a bowl perspective, that's probably all that matters.
If the Gators win out and finish the season 11-1 with a win over the intra-state rival Florida State, they will be very attractive to the Orlando-based Capital One Bowl.
Quarterback Jeff Driskel, running back Mike Gillislee and the Florida offense needs momentum going into 2013, and facing off against a Wisconsin—the Big Ten's third-best defense—will be a great way to gauge where the Gators are and where they are headed.
Georgia RB Todd Gurley
The logjam atop the SEC is going to create a very interesting selection process, and despite Georgia playing in the SEC Championship Game, it will fall down the SEC food chain a bit to the Outback Bowl, where it will face off against Big Ten foe Michigan.
It would be a tough break for the Bulldogs because they would be getting punished for losing the SEC Championship Game, but facing off against Denard Robinson, Devin Gardner and the Wolverines with a month to prepare would create a wildly intriguing matchup between teams that expect to be in the title hunt in 2013.
This also could be quarterback Aaron Murray's swan song if the redshirt junior decides to declare early, and playing in front of his hometown crowd for the second straight season would be a nice way for him to close out his career.
LSU Quarterback Zach Mettenberger
Don't look now, but LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger looked like a functional quarterback vs. Alabama two weeks ago, and that trend continued last weekend when the junior threw for 273 yards and two touchdowns vs. Mississippi State.
The Tigers will win out in games vs. Ole Miss and Arkansas, and move on to the Cotton Bowl where they will face off against the Texas Longhorns.
It would be a huge event for LSU.
With Texas A&M now in the conference, and able to sell itself as "the SEC program in the state of Texas," getting one month of publicity in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and going up against the Texas Longhorns will benefit LSU's recruiting efforts in the state.
Plus, considering the Longhorns struggle with tackling, getting a win shouldn't be much of a challenge either.
South Carolina QB Connor Shaw
South Carolina won't be in the SEC Championship Game and has long since departed from the national title discussion, but it's still a top 10 team and the Chick-fil-A Bowl will jump at the chance to match them up against N.C. State out of the ACC.
Gamecock safety D.J. Swearinger was recently named SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week, and going up against quarterback Mike Glennon and the potent Wolfpack passing attack that ranks third in the ACC with 291 yards per game will create a wildly intriguing matchup on New Year's Eve in the Georgia Dome.
South Carolina fans expected more coming into the season, and this may be viewed as a disappointing end to the 2012 season. But it's more a by-product of the strength at the top end of the SEC, and South Carolina will get the short end of the stick.
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen
Mississippi State's season has taken a turn south in the last three weeks. The Bulldogs have lost three straight after starting the season 7-0.
But their fortunes will turn around with games vs. Arkansas and Ole Miss to close out the season, and the Gator Bowl will welcome the nine-win Bulldogs with open arms.
The Bulldogs boast an underrated running back in LaDarius Perkins, a wildly efficient passer in Tyler Russell and one of the most talented secondaries in the nation.
Going up against a Northwestern defense that's giving up 396.3 yards per game should make for a fun and entertaining matchup in Jacksonville, and will be a great way for head coach Dan Mullen and Co. to build momentum into recruiting season.
Vanderbilt QB Jordan Rodgers and head coach James Franklin
Not only will Vanderbilt make its second consecutive bowl game, but it will improve upon its 2011 campaign with two more wins down the stretch and finish at 8-4.
Think about that for a sec...Vanderbilt...at 8-4.
I hope head coach James Franklin has unlimited cell phone minutes, because his phone is going to be ringing off the hook with calls from athletic directors with job openings.
The Commodores will stay local in Nashville during bowl season and square off with Duke out of the ACC in a game that will likely feature the highest combined IQ of any bowl this winter.
Winning or losing doesn't really matter at this point. Franklin has built the Commodore program to a point that many didn't think was possible; and matching last season's six-win season already makes 2012 a success for the 'Dores.
Missouri QB James Franklin
After a slow start, Missouri will top Syracuse this weekend and be the final SEC team in the bowl mix this season (the SEC will come two spots shy of filling its bowl agreements).
That's how big last weekend's quadruple overtime win over Tennessee was. It will likely get the Tigers to a bowl, and will be the one that Vols fans look back on as the one that prevented them from going bowling.
It will be a great opportunity for Missouri to play in the Memphis area, which is a place it would like to expand its footprint now that it's in the SEC.
They'll match up with C-USA champ Tulsa, who will top UCF in the C-USA Championship Game and prevent a Mizzou/UCF rematch.