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SEC and BCS Bowl Previews (or our bylaws prevent us from rewarding better teams and creating better games)

The Current BCS standings have six SEC teams lined up from #4 to #9: Alabama, Georgia, Florida, LSU, Texas A&M, and South Carolina.

Two of these teams are going to BCS bowls. Four of these teams are not. Several people are constructing scenarios where two of the three undefeated teams lose and the SEC Champion is the one-loss representative in the BCS National Championship Game. While this certainly could happen, I think only one of the three undefeated teams loses. This sends the SEC Champion winner to the Sugar Bowl and throws the loser into the pool of at-large teams.

I’m telling you now Georgia fans, we will NOT be selected to a BCS bowl as an at large team if we lose in Atlanta. The most important reason to win in Atlanta is to win an SEC Championship. But the secondary concern is that if we don’t, we could drop all the way to the Outback Bowl (sound familiar?).

BCS Championship Game – Kansas State vs. Oregon

Even if Notre Dame doesn’t lose, these two undefeated squads will play for the title. For most TV viewers it will be the first time they have watched either team play.

Fiesta Bowl – Notre Dame vs. Texas A&M

When the Rose Bowl loses a team to the national title game it will always try to protect its association with the Pac-12 and Big 10. You can count on the Sugar to honor its SEC heritage when it can. But while the Fiesta is the current home of the Big 12 champ, the Fiesta has no such longstanding loyalty to the Big 12. They will take Notre Dame right away to replace Big 12 Champion Kansas State. In addition to getting the first pick because they are replacing the BCS #1, the Fiesta also has the good fortune of getting the first at-large pick based on the rotating schedule among the BCS bowls. They will survey the landscape and see Johnny Football and the breakout Texas A&M Aggies available to select. This will require the Fiesta bowl to pass over LSU and possibly South Carolina and Florida, who would be slightly higher-ranked in the BCS. But the Aggies give the Fiesta the closest SEC fan base and a nationally-interesting storyline.

Rose Bowl – Nebraska vs. Stanford

By virtue of losing Oregon to the championship game, The Rose Bowl will get to make the next selection. I think Stanford will lose a close one to Oregon and not drop too much in the human polls. With a couple of weeks of attrition, I think Stanford will climb back to the 14th spot in the BCS making them eligible for at-large selection. It will raise eyebrows, but the Rose Bowl has been clear all along that it will do everything it can to ensure a Big 10 vs. Pac 10 match up. Nebraska will “win” the Big 10 to “earn” their spot here.

Sugar Bowl – Alabama vs. Oklahoma

I am 54.7 percent certain we will lose to a focused, angry Alabama team in Atlanta. This is progress; I was previously 94.8 percent certain. With the SEC limited to two teams in the BCS, the best team left on the board will be Oklahoma. (I’m assuming a Clemson loss to South Carolina) This gives the Sugar Bowl a marquee matchup of two storied programs.

Orange Bowl – Florida State vs. Louisville

Florida State may be a good team. But beating ACC teams is no way to prove that. If the ’Noles beat the Gators that will help the perception of the team. But it won’t make any difference for FSU’s bowl game. The Orange gets Florida State as ACC Champions and ends up with Louisville the same way a kickball team that picks last ends up with the short fat kid.

Capital One Bowl – Georgia vs. Wisconsin

Having reached the heights of BCS number 5, Georgia fans will be disappointed with a Capital One bowl berth (especially if the game with Bama is competitive.) The reality is that this year’s Bulldog team simply hasn’t captured the national imagination. The perception is that we haven’t really played anyone or beaten anyone significant besides Florida. Our defense is getting some love in the national media, but this year we just aren’t one of those teams that fans across the nation are clamoring to watch on TV.

Cotton Bowl – LSU vs. Texas

The funny irony is that Texas A&M may have played its way into a BCS game, but will be annoyed it missed the chance to play Texas in the Cotton Bowl. Note to A&M fans: Let the win over ‘Bama be a catalyst to ending your obsession with Texas. You are an SEC big boy now. Start treating the Longhorns as just another non-SEC team.

Outback Bowl – Florida vs. Michigan

We really need Florida State to beat Florida. And I think FSU will. However, if the Gators beat the Seminoles so Florida still only has one loss after we take a second loss to Alabama, don’t be surprised if Florida goes to the Capital One, and we land back in Tampa. Won’t that be exciting?

Chick-fil-A Bowl – South Carolina vs. NC State

Just going by pecking order Clemson should end up here as the #2 team out of the ACC, but South Carolina and Clemson will have just played. I bet the winner gets to keep the spot in the Chick-fil-A and the loser has to go one bowl down the pecking order to avoid a rematch in a bowl. NC State gets to end the year in the Dome where it started the year. Only this time it has to play a good SEC team.

Gator Bowl – Mississippi State vs. Northwestern

Mississippi State may not win again. But they may not have to make it to the Gator Bowl.

Liberty Bowl - Tennessee vs. UCF

Derek Dooley simply did a poor job of coaching in the Missouri game. But I still think Tennessee beats Vandy and Kentucky to become bowl eligible and head across the state to Memphis.

Music City Bowl – Vanderbilt vs. Miami

I may have guessed the wrong winner, but I told you a month ago that the Vandy vs. Ole Miss game would settle which team goes to a bowl.

Compass Bowl – Missouri vs. Louisiana Monroe

Thanks to Missouri’s win over Tennessee, the Tigers can become bowl eligible with a win over Syracuse. Let’s see if the fifth best team in the SEC East can do what the undefeated Champion of the Big East couldn’t do. Speaking of the Big East, they won’t fill their bowl slots, so Louisiana Monroe gets rewarded for its big year by getting to go to a bowl game even though the Sun Belt’s two official tie-ins will already be taken.

The Independence Bowl – No SEC team eligible

Ole Miss would need to beat LSU or Mississippi State to get a sixth win. As much as the Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau may be rooting for it, I just don’t see it happening.

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