Well if you are the Compass Bowl or the Independence Bowl you’ve got two problems with your SEC agreements.
First, the top of the conference is too good. The BCS title game might as well be an SEC bowl tie in. And even if an SEC champ didn’t make the title game, you can bet a second SEC team would be taken as an at-large pick by some BCS bowl. So filling 10 slots will almost always require 11 bowl-eligible teams with six or more wins.
The second problem (as Kyle and many others have noted) is that the bottom of the conference stinks. Not just your regular kind of in-any-conference-there-mathematically-have-to-be-winners-and-losers kind of stinks. No I’m talking about losing to Sun Belt teams kind of stinks.
For reasons that I’m sure no one understands, I’m not going to focus as much on the top of the conference and instead let’s look at who is NOT going bowling:
Kentucky – Anyone think this 1-6 team is winning 5 of its last 6?
Auburn – There are winnable games left on Auburn’s schedule, but even if Auburn wins those (which would include Ole Miss and Vandy), it would have to beat Texas A&M, Georgia or Alabama (By which I mean they would have to beat either Texas A&M or Georgia.)
Ole Miss – The Rebels had the good sense to win their games against their patsies. So they have three wins with half the season still to play. The path to six wins is there, but they have to beat fellow also-rans Auburn, Arkansas and Vandy. If they don’t get it done there, they are faced with having to steal one from Georgia, LSU or Mississippi State. I think Ole Miss has one good upset in them this year, but that will still only get them to 5 wins.
Arkansas – Is about to go on a small winning streak and get to 5 wins. But then reality hits again as they close the season with South Carolina, Mississippi State and LSU. Could they win one of those and send John L. Smith out with a bowl game? I’m 51 percent sure they can’t, so I’m not projecting them into a bowl. (Plus it makes my whole SEC-won’t-fill-all-its-games thesis work)
So for no reason in particular we have reviewed the most desperate teams in the SEC. I’m sure there were also developments among the teams contending for the top spots, but really who needs to focus on those teams that already get so much attention. So here’s what we are we in store for when Bowl time rolls around:
BCS Championship Game – Alabama vs. Oregon
South Carolina looks good enough to challenge Alabama in the SEC Championship game. Note that I said ‘challenge,’ not beat. This will be the high-flying-offense-vs.-SEC-defense matchup the country wants to see.
Sugar Bowl – South Carolina vs. Texas
Even if the Gamecocks lose to LSU, I expect them to beat Florida and win the East. With West Virginia on its way to a Big East Ten Twelve Championship, Texas is an attractive at-large pick providing the high-flying-offense-vs.-SEC-defense matchup the country wants to see.
Capital One Bowl – Florida vs. Nebraska
Florida’s big win didn’t change my bowl projection, because I had already baked it into the cake as they say. Would I be shocked if they beat South Carolina and swap places with them? No. Would I be despondent? Yes. Nebraska ends up here after Michigan wins the Big Ten by default.
Cotton Bowl – LSU vs. Kansas State
I want to find a path for A&M or Mississippi State to leapfrog LSU. You know the Cotton Bowl would love to have the Aggies. But I just don’t see either team beating LSU straight up, which is what it would take. Also this match up gives us a high-powered-offense-vs.-SEC-defense match up.
Outback Bowl – Georgia vs. Wisconsin
It’s going to be even more embarrassing when we lose.
Chick-fil-A Bowl – Texas A&M vs. Florida State
Unless, of course Mississippi State wins the head-to-head match-up with the Aggies. This gives us the high-flying Big 12 offense (now playing in your local conference) vs. whatever it is that the ACC does well.
Gator Bowl – Mississippi State vs. Northwestern
Mississippi State should finish with more wins than Tennessee, but don’t be surprised if the Gator bowl exercises the option to select a team lower in the standings as long as that team is within one win of the team being passed over.
Liberty Bowl - Tennessee vs. UCF
Tennessee could put a hurtin’ on somebody in this game.
Music City Bowl – Vanderbilt vs. NC State
Vandy’s win over Mizzu was huge for its bowl hopes. With UMass and Kentucky still on the schedule, the Commodores need to find two wins against Auburn, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Wake Forest. Beating two of those four should be very doable.
Compass Bowl – No SEC team eligible
The Independence Bowl – No SEC team eligible
The Independence Bowl – No SEC team eligible