SEC Football: Fresh Bowl Projections for the Conference
Now that we have entered the month of November, bowl games are amazingly just over a month away.
With nine weeks of game in the review mirror, teams are starting to fall into rank and order in the SEC.
Fans will now begin to start looking at where their team may travel over the holidays, if their team is bowling this season.
Here are my projections for the upcoming bowl season for each game that has a Southeastern Conference tie-in...
BBVA Compass Bowl
Date and Time: Jan. 7, 1pm
Location: Birmingham, AL
Projection: Mississippi State vs. Syracuse
Mississippi State has a record of 4-4 and is 1-4 in conference play. With games remaining against Tennessee Tech and Ole Miss, the Bulldogs should be able to get to six wins and receive a bowl invite.
The Tennessee-based bowls (Music City and Liberty) will most-likely want to keep the local Commodore and Volunteer fanbases in state to drive attendance and regional appeal, thus dropping State to the Compass Bowl spot.
Date and Time: Dec. 31, 3:30 pm
Location: Memphis, TN
Projection: Vanderbilt vs. Houston
Vanderbilt is playing good defense and has been competitive all season. The Commodores already have four wins and should be the favorite against Kentucky in two weeks.
That will mean that Vanderbilt will need to win just one of the last two games of the season, versus Tennessee and Wake Forrest, to earn six wins and a bowl berth.
Music City Bowl
Date and Time: Dec. 30, 6:40 PM
Location: Nashville, TN
Projection: Tennessee vs. Virginia
Tennessee only has three wins so far this season, but has games left against Middle Tennessee, Kentucky and Vanderbilt in the last weeks of the season.
If the Vols can get past Vandy and get to six wins, the Music City Bowl will want their large and local fanbase.
Date and Time: Jan. 2, 1pm
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Projection: Florida vs. Ohio State
Florida has had a tough October and has just four wins so far in 2011.
However, if they can beat Vanderbilt this Saturday, they should be a lock for at least six wins and a bowl invitation with Furman still on the schedule.
Date and Time: Dec. 31, 7:30 PM
Location: Atlanta, GA
Projection: Auburn vs. Virginia Tech
Auburn is having a better season that some projected in the preseason, as they have already won six games and are bowl eligible after just nine weeks.
A game against Samford in a few weeks should give the Tigers their seventh win.
If the Tigers can beat Georgia in two weeks, they could move up in these projections.
Date and Time: Jan. 2, 1pm
Location: Tampa, FL
Projection: South Carolina vs. Michigan State
South Carolina is 7-1 and ranked in the top 10 in the nation.
The Gamecocks could win the rest of their regular season games, have an 11-1 record and play in the SEC Championship Game as the SEC East Champion.
However with games left against No. 7 Arkansas and No. 11 Clemson, a final record of 9-3 may be more probable.
Date and Time: Jan. 6, 8pm
Location: Dallas, TX
Projection: Georgia vs. Kansas State
Georgia lost their first two games of the season and looked to be in trouble.
However, the Bulldogs have now won six straight games and could be the odds-on favorite to win the SEC East.
With New Mexico State and Kentucky still left on the schedule, eight wins is likely. If they can beat rival Georgia Tech, that would give them nine wins.
The big game will be against Auburn. If the Bulldogs can beat the Tigers it should earn them 10 wins and a trip to Atlanta for the SEC title game.
The Cotton usually takes a West team, but the SEC East Champion, even after losing in the title game, would be more attractive than the fourth team in the West.
If Auburn beats Georgia, that changes the whole picture...for Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina.
Capital One Bowl
Date and Time: Jan. 2, 1 pm
Location: Orlando, FL
Projection: Arkansas vs. Michigan
Arkansas hasn't looked great the last couple of weeks, but they keep on winning.
The Razorbacks are 7-1 on the season and ranked No. 7 in the nation.
Wins in games against South Carolina and Mississippi State aren't a given, but Arkansas has the talent to win those matchups, finish 10-2 on the year and land a top bowl game invite.
Allstate Sugar Bowl
Date and Time: Jan. 3, 8:30 pm
Location: New Orleans, LA
Projection: Alabama vs. Boise State
Alabama has the top statistical defense in the country and potential Heisman trophy winner Trent Richardson. Any team that can play shut-down defense and run the football has a shot to beat anyone.
That is the case for Bama, as they are undefeated and will be favored on each of their games this season.
LSU may end up beating the Tide, but Alabama will not trip up again and will earn a BCS bowl bid.
BCS National Championship Game
Date and Time: Jan. 9, 8:30 pm
Location: New Orleans, LA
Projection: LSU vs. Oklahoma State
LSU is ranked No. 1 in the country and has a perfect 8-0 record.
Their win over Oregon, one of five wins over teams ranked in the top 25 when they played them, may have them prepared to edge Alabama on Saturday.
You could easily swap these two teams, as Alabama could definitely beat LSU this weekend.
However, for now I believe LSU is the best complete team in the country and will play for the national title.