Bowl Projections 2012: Picking Bowl Games for the Top SEC Teams
The wild ride in the Southeastern Conference continues to defy logic. Hold on! December is only days away, and bowl scouts have scoured the turf from South Carolina to Alabama with their picks.
With one weekend left in regular season play, there are bowl invitations engraved for several SEC teams. We just don't know what they say yet, officially. Headlining those predictions is a special delivery package filled with the chance to play in the BCS National Championship game in New Orleans.
In case you need a refresher, here's a summary of the bowl process: The BCS bowl games—apart from the No. 1 and 2 teams, at present LSU and Alabama respectively—will get the first choices of teams for BCS bowls. Many of the other non-BCS bowls will ignore the final standings, taking geography and crowd draw into consideration of their pics.
So as we ponder the postseason road ahead, peruse these predictions for the Eastern and Western Division bowl-worthy teams of this talent-stacked Southeastern Conference.
Bowl Projections 2012: South Carolina to the Chick-Fil-a Bowl
Call it a New Year's Eve chicken-fest.
The South Carolina Gamecocks will be the perfect icon for Chick-Fil-A marketers. The cock-a-doodle-dos of the SC fans will be heard by an ESPN audience if our pick is right. The 7:30 p.m. New Year's Eve game at the Georgia Dome pays out $6.9 million and pits the ACC No. 2 to the SEC's No. 3, 4 or 5.
Virginia Tech (10-1, 6-1) is in line for the Atlanta showdown with the Gamecocks. The matchup of these two lively programs will be enhanced by the sideline show of two great coaches at the helm of each, Frank Beamer and Steve Spurrier. With strong fans bases for both schools, better get your tickets and room reservations now, Hokie and Gamecock fans.
Bowl Projections 2012: Capital One Bowl Between Michigan State and Arkansas
If the Razorbacks of Arkansas don't survive Death Valley and LSU this weekend, they'll most likely be heading to the Capital One Bowl on January 2 in Orlando.
The Big Ten's No. 2, possibly Michigan State (9-2, 6-1), will be a worthy opponent to Arkansas (10-1, 6-1), a team that flirted with a national title earlier this season and sits at the No. 3 spot in the BCS standings.
With a payout of $9.2 million, this game will come down to a test of the conferences, and predictions are that the SEC will win this one.
Bowl Projections 2012: Nebraska Versus Florida in the Gator Bowl
Fans of the Florida Gators (6-5, 3-5) will be thankful for a non-BCS bowl in this rebuilding year with a new coach.
They'll be even more thankful that they won't have to drive too far to see their team play a strong Nebraska team (8-3, 4-3) in Jacksonville on January 2. Broadcast on ESPN2, the $5.4 million payout game will likely render another win for an SEC team.
Gator fans will be ready to hit Jacksonville Landing on Jan. 2 and start the chomp in their seats for the 1 p.m. kickoff that day, followed by a victory celebration tailgate when it's over.
Bowl Predictions 2012: Outback Bowl Featuring Penn State and Georgia
Our earlier predictions for the Georgia Bulldogs have had them all over the place, but after an SEC showdown in the Georgia Dome, we're putting them in Tampa on Jan. 2 for a bout with Penn State.
Predictions are that these Bulldogs will meet the Penn State challenge after a bruising loss to LSU in the SEC championship game. They'll be out to prove they are back as serious league competitors after a year of tough wins and a surprising SEC Eastern championship.
With many freshman starters maturing and mastering Mark Richt's coaching strategies, Georgia fans will no doubt show up by the thousands to support their beloved Dawgs.
Bowl Projections 2012: At&T Cotton Bowl, Kansas State Versus Auburn
We predict last year's national champions, the Auburn Tigers (7-3, 4-3), will travel westward to Arlington, Texas, for a prime-time matchup with Kansas State.
Surviving a loss to rival Alabama next weekend, this team has had a few scares in a rebuilding year. They narrowly escaped a loss to Samford (6-5, 4-4, in the Southern Division), winning 35-16, but were beaten down by Georgia and LSU, among others.
Kansas State (9-2, 6-2) will be too much for this young team, and hopeful Auburn fans traveling to this game might wish they had stayed home.
Bowl Projections 2012: the BCS National Championship: Alabama Versus LSU
The cards have fallen into place and our prediction is for a Bama/LSU rematch, provided Bama beats rival Auburn next weekend on The Plains. The BCS national championship game will be prime time in more ways than one.
The BCS No. 1 versus BCS No. 2 has set some records with Arkansas sitting at No. 3 after Sunday night's standings were released. This is the first time in the 14-year history of the BCS that three teams in the same conference have sat in the top three slots.
While LSU needs to first beat Arkansas next weekend, it would also need to beat Georgia in the SEC championship game in Atlanta to get to the BCS game in New Orleans. LSU previously beat Alabama 9-6 in overtime Nov. 6 in Tuscaloosa, and the rematch would be a home game for the Tigers. We're predicting LSU's dominance over the Hogs and the Bulldogs for a sure ticket to the championship game.