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SEC Bowl Outlook, BCS Title Game Possibilities – 11/22/11

With a week to go in the regular season, the SEC has just seven teams that are currently bowl eligible.  If Kentucky beats Tennessee, Ole Miss beats Mississippi State and Wake Forest tops Vanderbilt, that’s the way it will stay, too.

On the brighter side, the SEC could put just seven teams in bowls and still become the first league to land three teams in BCS bowls.  And the BCS title game is almost assuredly an all-SEC matchup at this point. 

Like America, it appears the middle class of the SEC is disappearing.  Perhaps someone should start and Occupy The SEC Offices movement.

Below are the bowl and BCS breakdowns for each school in the league as of this moment.  Obviously, things can change pretty quickly.



LSU (11-0, 7-0)

Likely Destination:  BCS Championship Game

Best Route:
  LSU’s lead in the BCS standings is so great that it’s likely the Tigers could lose to Arkansas or Georgia and still make the title game.  While everyone talks about computers, since 2004 the top two teams in the human polls have always met for the title.  In 2006, voters jumped Florida over Michigan at the last minute to avoid an Ohio State-Michigan rematch in the title game.  In 2007, two-loss LSU was pushed past Georgia at the last minute because the Tigers had won the SEC and UGA had not even won its division.  Unless LSU loses to both Arkansas and Georgia in the next two weeks, it’s likely the humans would find a way to keep the Tigers in the BCS title game.


Alabama (10-1, 6-1)

Likely Destination:  BCS Championship Game

Best Route:  Beat Auburn.  If Bama wins the Iron Bowl and LSU tops Arkansas, the Tide will be set, while LSU will have to go battle Georgia in Atlanta.  Oddly enough, Bama’s loss at home to LSU two weeks ago might’ve just given the Tide an easier path to the BCS title game.


Arkansas (10-1, 6-1)

Likely Destination:  Capital One Bowl vs Big Ten

Best Case:  Razorback fans should be pulling for Auburn to upset Alabama.  While that would hurt the Hogs’ strength of schedule, it would also move the Hogs a slot higher in the human polls.  If Arkansas then beat LSU, the Hogs would find themselves ranked no worse than #2 nationally.  They would then go to Atlanta to face Georgia in the SEC title game.  Win that one and they would be bound for the BCS Championship Game.


Georgia (9-2, 7-1)

Likely Destination:  Cotton Bowl vs Big 12

Best Case:  With the SEC all but assured of two slots in the BCS Championship Game, the league could still land three teams in BCS bowls.  Let’s say Alabama and LSU both win on Saturday.  And then Georgia upsets LSU in the SEC Championship Game.  Alabama and LSU would still likely be paired in the BCS title game while Georgia would have assured itself of a spot in the Sugar Bowl.  Hey, it’s possible.


S. Carolina (9-2, 6-2)

Likely Destination:  Outback Bowl vs Big Ten

Best Case:  Whether the Gamecocks win or lose to Clemson, they’re still likely to head to Tampa. 


Auburn (7-4, 4-3)

Likely Destination:  Chick-fil-A Bowl vs ACC

Best Case:  Even if Auburn wins the Iron Bowl, they’ll like stack up behind Georgia and Carolina.


Florida (6-5, 3-5)

Likely Destination:  Gator Bowl vs Big Ten

Best Case: Auburn loses, the Gators beat Florida State and the Chick-fil-A snags UF for the first time since 2004.  (The Chick-fil-A pays about $200,000 more than the Gator.)


Miss. State (5-6, 1-6)

Likely Destination:  Liberty Bowl vs Conference-USA

Best Case:  If MSU beats Ole Miss and both Tennessee and Vanderbilt lose, the Bulldogs will snag a Music City Bowl bid.  (Music City pays about $100,000 more than the Liberty.)


Tennessee (5-6, 1-6)

Likely Destination:  Music City Bowl vs ACC

Best Case:  While the Vols played in the same bowl last year, UT would probably put more fannies in seats than MSU or Vanderbilt.  Beat Kentucky and UT will likely head back to Nashville.


Vanderbilt (5-6, 2-6)

Likely Destination:  BBVA Compass Bowl vs Big East

Best Case:  If MSU and UT lose, VU could snag the Music City Bowl.  Otherwise, it’s likely that a school with very little “sidewalk alumni” will fall to the SEC’s last bowl partner.


Observations:

* At this point, it would be a surprise if the BCS Championship Game did not feature two SEC teams.  LSU looks to be in so long as the Tigers don’t lose to both Arkansas and Georgia.  Alabama will be in if the Tide can down Auburn.  And if Arkansas beats LSU and Auburn upsets Alabama, then Arkansas would probably get a rematch with LSU in the BCS title game.

* A BCS bylaw opens the door for the SEC to land three teams in BCS bowls (rather than the usual max of two teams):  “No more than two teams from a conference may be selected, regardless of whether they are automatic qualifiers or at-large selections, unless two non-champions from the same conference are ranked #1 and #2 in the final BCS standings.”

* Can you imagine a national title game with Alabama and LSU that doesn’t even feature the actual champion of the SEC?  Talk about showing league strength.

* Since before Stanford, Boise State, and Oklahoma State starting losing, we’ve said that the best possible BCS title game would feature a rematch of LSU and Alabama.  They are clearly the two best teams in the country.  It would also be interesting to see if both teams played things so conservatively in a rematch.

* That said, it’s not really fair to LSU to make them play Alabama again.  If Bama wins, would they really deserve the national crown more than LSU?  Probably not, but that’s how the system works.  Ask Florida and Florida State fans whether rematches in bowls should count more than regular season games or not.

* Here’s a scenario for you: Alabama beats LSU 9-6 in overtime in New Orleans.  The BCS championship would go to the Crimson Tide, but LSU could still win the AP Poll, creating a split national championship… between two schools in the same league.  If that happened, would the SEC claim it had won seven titles in a row rather than six?

 


7 comments
Rob
Rob

While I agree that Alabama and LSU are the favorites, it's foolish to say that it would be a surprise if it didn't happen. While I haven't calculated any odds, I suspect that they're against an Alabama/LSU rematch, even if it's the most likely match-up.

As football fans, we have narrow minds, but the truth reveals it's ugly head, numerous times, during each football season. And yet, we never change.

JoP
JoP

Isn't it more likely that LSU is in no matter what (assuming they aren't completely blown out by Arkansas, that is)? If LSU loses to Arkansas, they would most likely miss the SECCG and still slide into the BCSNCG.

LSU looks about as close to a sure thing as I have ever seen this far removed from the end of the season.

If Arkansas beat LSU, is there any chance that an SEC Champ Arkansas would face LSU in the NC game?

How different would UGA be in this conversation if they had played Louisville, as scheduled, and won instead of losing to Boise State to start the season?

Orl. Dawg
Orl. Dawg

What if LSU beats Arkansas easitly and Georgia beats Ga. Tech and then plays LSU close in the SECCG, wouldn't it make sense for the Capital One bowl to take UGA and send Ark. to the Cotton bowl? Wishful thinking on my part as I live in Orlando.

chris
chris

Question: If FSU beats UF this Saturday, any chance Auburn gets that Gator Bowl spot over UF? Auburn will be coming off a loss as well, but a 6-6 team playing New Year's Day? UF fans won't even go to that. Next question, does the Peach Bowl then possibly take 6-6 Tennessee over a 6-6 UF? Tennessee fans will show up in great numbers for that game. UF fans will not.

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

Rob...

Actually, the odds favor just that. Alabama is expected to beat Auburn. And LSU is favored to beat Arkansas and will/would be favored to beat Georgia.

The chances of another squad jumping those two -- if they do win out -- are slim. Human voters would have to arbitrarily pick another team to move up in order to prevent a rematch. And as we've pointed out several times, there is no clear-cut choice to move up. Votes would be split. And LSU and Alabama would still likely meet in New Orleans.

If they win out -- and they're expected to -- they'll meet in the BCS title game.

Thanks for reading the site,
John

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

Orl. Dawg...

It's possible, but we're talking likelihoods here. And right now, Arkansas far outranks Georgia. As we said in the piece, however, things can change quickly.

Thanks for reading,
John

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

chris...

There are LOTS of possibilities. We simply broke down what we believe to be the most likely scenarios. Talking to people at a number of SEC schools, the list above looks to be what most people inside the league are expecting.

But things can change with every game played.

Thanks for reading,
John

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