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.
* 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?