Bowl Projections: Predicting Where All SEC Teams Are Headed
Each season critics try to persuade fans that the SEC is down. However, heading into the final week of the season, there are three SEC teams with one loss and two teams with only two losses.
The SEC is once again the strongest conference in the nation. In my opinion, the SEC will send 10 of their 12 teams to bowl games this season and will be represented well.
With just two more Saturdays left in the regular season it is becoming more clear which teams will go to which bowl games.
Here is a list of where the 10 SEC teams are likely to go bowling.
LSU Tigers: BCS National Championship Game
LSU seems as close to a lock for the championship game as any team in recent memory. The BCS computers love them and for good reason. LSU has played a grueling schedule that consists of Oregon, Alabama, West Virginia, and Arkansas.
This LSU team will need a split at best with Arkansas and Georgia to make it to the BCS championship game. They are the only undefeated BCS team in the nation and because of this have some wiggle room.
The only way LSU does not make it to the BCS title game is if they lose to Arkansas today, still make it to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game and lose to the Georgia Bulldogs as well.
This defense is too good to lose in back-to-back weeks.
Alabama Crimson Tide: Sugar Bowl
For those hoping for an All-SEC championship game, hope is still alive. In fact, most would argue that it is probable. However, history has a way of repeating itself in college football. This is why I believe that if Oklahoma State defeats the Oklahoma Sooners on December 3rd they will play in the national championship game, not the Tide.
SEC fans need to only look back to 2008 when the Georgia Bulldogs went into the final week before the final BCS rankings No. 4 in the BCS poll and the LSU Tigers were No. 7. Georgia was idle because they loss their division tiebreaker to Tennessee.
LSU, on the other hand, defeated Tennessee in the SEC championship game 21-14. The No. 1 and No. 2 BCS teams lost. Instead of moving to No. 2, the Bulldogs were leapt over by the Tigers from seventh place.
The lesson is simple: The voters like conference champions and punish idle teams.
The Tide currently sit second in the computer polls and are ahead of Alabama in four of the six polls. As a result, if the Cowboys are able to defeat the Oklahoma Sooners in their season finale, they might need to only finish as high as third in the human polls.
This scenario is very enticing to voters who do not want a team without a conference championship playing in the BCS championship and the Cowboys give them an out.
Arkansas Razorbacks: Capital One Bowl
The Capital One Bowl is obligated to select the SEC team with the best overall record among non-BCS playing SEC teams. As of now, this would be Arkansas. However, if the Razorbacks lose today to LSU they would be tied with the Georgia Bulldogs.
However, if the Bulldogs lost to LSU in the championship game they would be one game behind LSU. With that said, there is another stipulation that states a team within one game of the best record can be chosen.
As a result, Capital One could choose the Bulldogs here.
For the moment, however, I am going to choose the Razorbacks over the Bulldogs. I am choosing Arkansas because they only have one potential loss remaining on their schedule before the selection. Georgia, on the other hand, could lose to Georgia Tech and LSU.
If they split those two games this will be tough decision for the bowl committee as well as Georgia would travel.
Georgia Bulldogs: Cotton Bowl
The Cotton Bowl has the first pick of the West teams. However, with the top three teams already selected, they are likely to choose the University of Georgia. Georgia will come into this game with a record of 10-3 or 9-4.
After an 0-2 start for the Bulldogs, the Cotton Bowl will be a nice bowl game. As I stated in the previous slide, if Georgia beats Georgia Tech they could move up to the Capital One Bowl and the Arkansas Razorbacks drop to the Cotton Bowl.
The selection might come down to who plays LSU the tightest. Also, if Arkansas beats LSU expect UGA to move up to the Capital One Bowl as well.
South Carolina Gamecocks: The Outback Bowl
The Outback Bowl typically takes the highest-ranked Eastern division team. In this case it will be the South Carolina Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks will enter this game with a record of 10-2 or 9-3, depending on their season finale against Clemson. While this might not reach the expectations that many fans had in the preseason, coach Steve Spurrier has done a wonderful job of keeping this team together despite the loss of Stephen Garcia and Marcus Lattimore.
It has been a long season but the Gamecocks could finish the season with 10 or 11 wins.
Auburn Tigers: The Chick-Fil-a Bowl
With the next pick, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl is likely to choose a 7-5 Auburn Tigers football team. It has been an up-and-down season for these young Tigers. Auburn will not only get a shot at an 8-5 season but they will also likely get a rematch against Clemson.
The most important part about this bowl selection is the extra month of practice that Auburn will have. I feel certain that the Tigers will regain their roar in 2012.
Florida Gators: The Gator Bowl
This is about the easiest selection of the entire conference. The Gator Bowl is going to select the Florida Gators, who will come in with a record of 7-5 or 6-6.
There is no doubt that this is a disappointing season for the Gators and first-year head coach Will Muschamp. Florida has suffered from both injuries and learning new systems.
However, this is a chance for the Gators to finish the season on a positive note and gain some momentum heading into the 2012 season.
Mississippi State Bulldogs: Music City Bowl
The Mississippi State Bulldogs will be playing Ole Miss this weekend for a chance to become bowl-eligible. If they do defeat the Rebels, they will be picked up for the Music City Bowl.
The Bulldogs will travel well for this game to Nashville and this makes them an attractive selection despite their mediocre record.
Mississippi State has lost six games this season but all six teams are currently ranked in the BCS Top 25.
This team still has a great deal of youth and could get things back on track for next season in the bowl game. Sometimes you have a bad season and sometimes you have a bad schedule. This season for the Bulldogs was just a bad schedule.
Tennessee Volunteers: The Liberty Bowl
If you had asked the Volunteers if they would have been satisfied with a Liberty Bowl in the start of the season, the answer would have been a resounding no. However, at this juncture they are simply glad to have enough players left to field a football team.
The Vols lost their top two players early in the season in Tyler Bray and Justin Hunter. The results were far from desirable. The Vols are currently 5-6 and need a win versus Kentucky this weekend to become bowl-eligible.
Head coach Derek Dooley has had some excuses for the terrible play of the Vols but if he loses this weekend or the bowl game, he deserves to be on the hot seat in 2012.
Vanderbilt Commodores: BBVA Compass Bowl
I cannot remember a team in recent history that has lost more games on the final drive of the game than Vanderbilt this season. The team has played way above expectations but they continue to lose the close games.
As a result, they will need a win this week against Wake Forest to become bowl-eligible. If the Commodores win this weekend the BBVA Compass Bowl will snatch them up. I still believe James Franklin has some growing up to do but he has done a fine job with this team.