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Home Is Where The Heart Is: SEC Schools Staying At Home For 81% Of Prospects

LinkMap_MockupSEC fans know it.  NFL scouts know it.  Even Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany knows it.

The best football players in America are located south of the Mason-Dixon line.  While facilities, millionaire coaches and passion for the game all play a role in making the Southeastern Conference top dog in college football year-in and year-out, the deep pool of talent in Dixie is the “keyest” of key components.

Currently, there are 300 prospects committed to sign with SEC schools next Wednesday.  A whopping 245 of those athletes played their high school or juco ball in the 11-state SEC footprint.  That’s 81.6% of all the current commits across the league.

Below we chart for you state-by-state and school-by-school where the SEC’s programs have gone for talent.  Only two schools — Kentucky and Tennessee — have grabbed double-digit prospects from outside the league’s boundaries.  And only two states — Arkansas and Kentucky — have produced fewer than double-digit SEC commitments.

Here’s the breakdown…


  AL   AR   FL   GA   KY   LA   MS   MO   SC   TN   TX   Other   Total Commits
  Alabama   6   1   1   2   0   4   2   0   1   0   1   7   25
  Arkansas   0   5   4   2   0   4   0   3   0   0   2   2   22
  Auburn   7   0   2   8   0   0   3   0   0   0   0   0   20
  Florida   1   0   12   0   0   1   0   0   1   0   1   5   21
  Georgia   0   0   5   9   0   0   0   0   1   0   0   3   18
  Kentucky     1   0   4   2   2   0   0   0   1   0   3   13   26
  LSU   0   0   1   0   0   11   1   0   0   0   4   2   19
  Miss. State   2   0   0   4   0   0   11   0   0   0   1   0   18
  Missouri   0   0   5   3   0   0   1   8   0   3   3   3   26
  Ole Miss   2   0   0   4   0   1   13   0   0   1   1   2   24
  S. Carolina   1   0   2   4   0   0   1   0   8   0   1   1   18
  Tennessee   2   0   3   5   0   0   0   0   0   9   1   13   33
  Texas A&M   0   0   0   0   0   1   1   0   0   0   16   3   21
  Vanderbilt   2   0   0   3   0   1   0   0   0   2   0   1   9
  State Totals   24   6   39   46   2   23   33   11   12   15   34   55   300



*  The states of Georgia and Florida are once again 1-2 in terms of producing SEC commitments.  Typically the Peach State provides more SEC signees than the Sunshine State because there are only three FBS schools in the talent-rich state of Georgia.

*  Mark Stoops’ recruiting looks even better — and it’s looked pretty darned good to start with — when you consider the fact that the man has only two commitments from inside the Bluegrass State.  Two.  One, two.  That’s it.

*  Bret Bielema is facing the same kind of dilemma in a state that’s produced just six SEC commitments to date.  More worrisome: For a school that needs to recruit heavily into Texas, the Razorbacks have only convinced two Lone Star Staters to don the cardinal and white so far.

*  Nineteen of Missouri’s 26 commitments come from SEC East states.  While the Tigers aren’t killing it in terms of grabbing 4- and 5-star guys, they are clearly shifting their recruiting efforts from Texas (just three commitments) to Georgia, Florida and Tennessee.

*  The biggest backyard advantage in the SEC?  That’s easy — Texas A&M.  Sixteen of the Aggies 21 recruits are from the state of Texas.

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The Good And Bad Of The SEC’s Bowl Matchups

As is usually the case the day after the bowl matchups are announced, outrage abounds on this first Monday of December.  Georgia shouldn’t have fallen out of a BCS bowl.  Florida shouldn’t have jumped into a BCS bowl.  LSU shouldn’t have fallen to the Chick-fil-A Bowl.  Vanderbilt should be allowed to leave the state of Tennessee for a bowl game.

On and on and on.

But this is what the bowl system is and what it will always be, folks.  Now, maybe if there were a bowl selection draft based on bowl payouts we’d have better, fairer matchups.  But currently, it’s just the same ol’ mess every year.  The BCS bowls are locked into take certain small conference teams — like Northern Illinois to the Orange Bowl! — if they finish above a certain point in the national rankings.  (This was done to fend off lawyers and politicians representing small-conference teams.)

Then you have all of the conference tie-ins that come into play.  The leagues realized long ago that the safest way to insure a nice chunk of Bowl-Revenue Pie each year was to cut deals with the games well in advance.  So before the season starts, we know where the SEC’s, Big Ten’s, Big XII’s, etc, etc, teams are heading.  It’s just a matter of who falls into which slot.

After you cut through all of that automatic stuff, you then get down to the nitty gritty.  Cities began hosting bowls in order to bring tourists to their hotels and restaurants in the winter.  Period.  That’s why bowl games came into being and that’s why the number of games has grown to the point that we barely have enough bowl-eligible teams each year.  (This year, 6-7 Georgia Tech will be heading to the Sun Bowl to face Southern Cal after getting a special waiver from the NCAA allowing it to go bowling with a losing record.)

With the explosion in television coverage, the committees now consider tourism for one week versus for the entire year when picking their combatants.  A committee can choose to bring in two schools who’ll bring fans to their city for a few days in December or January… or two schools who’ll get bigger TV ratings which will provide said city an opportunity to run spot after spot promoting itself as a tourism destination to millions of folks who might visit in February or June or October.

There’s no logic.  There’s no disrespect.  There’s only business.  And the business of the bowl system makes for some real ho-hum affairs.  Below is our take on the good and bad of each SEC bowl matchup for 2012-13:


BCS Championship Game — #2 Alabama vs #1 Notre Dame in Miami, FL

The Good:  There could not be a better marquee pairing for college football’s national title game.  Arguably the two most-storied programs in the sport’s history battling it out for a national crown?  Are you kidding?  Keep an eye on the television ratings records for cable programs (it’ll air on ESPN) when this one kicks off after a full month of hype.  The SEC will be going for its seventh BCS title in a row.  Nick Saban will be going for his second in a row, his third in four years, and his fourth overall in the last 10 seasons (two of which he spent in the NFL).

The Bad:  If you’re an SEC fan, the fact that Notre Dame isn’t the joke everyone makes them out to be.  Unlike the offense-first teams that SEC defenses have shut down in previous BCS title games, the Irish are an SEC-style club.  They’re led by their defense, they finished undefeated, ten of the 12 teams they beat finished bowl eligible and they won at Oklahoma and at Southern Cal (two traditional powers).  The Tide opened as 9.5-point favorites in Las Vegas, but that’s just a measure of how the casinos believe fans will place their bets.  Give Nick Saban a month to prepare and we’ll put our money on Bama every time, but we still don’t think this is going to be as big a laugher as most seem to believe.

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The South Is Still The King Of College Football Ratings

ESPN has conducted a 12-year analysis of television ratings for college football and the results aren’t surprising: Southerners watch.  A lot.

According to the research, Birmingham had higher TV ratings for college football than in any other city in 11 of the 12 years examined.  Knoxville and Columbus, Ohio were each ranked #2 behind Birmingham multiple times over that same period.

Below is a list of the Top 25 TV markets for college football in 2011 alone.  And, yes, there’s still a strong Southern lean to the list:


1.  Birmingham, AL

2t.  Oklahoma City, OK

2t.  Columbus, OH

4.  Greenville, SC

5t.  New Orleans, LA

5t.  Atlanta, GA

7t.  Jacksonville, FL

7t.  Tulsa, OK

9.  Las Vegas, NV

10.  Knoxville, TN

11.  Dayton, OH

12t.  Greensboro, NC

12t.  Austin, TX

12t.  Charlotte, NC

12t.  Ft. Myers, FL

16t.  Pittsburgh, PA

16t.  Nashville, TN

16t.  Norfolk, VA

16t.  Memphis, TN

20.  Cleveland, OH

21.  Orlando, FL

22t.  Raleigh-Durham, NC

22t.  West Palm Beach, FL

22t.  Detroit, MI

25t.  Cincinnati, OH

25t.  Richmond, VA

25t.  Portland, OR

25t.  Kansas City, MO

25t.  Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL



* Folks like their football in Ohio and Oklahoma.

* Thirteen of the markets ranked are located in the SEC’s new footprint.

* The ACC-area cities put up higher numbers than this writer would expect.

* It’s surprising that in the state of Texas, only Austin ranks as a Top 25 market for college football viewing.

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Forget Selection Committees And Conference Tie-Ins, It’s Time For A Bowl Draft

Regular readers of this site know that over the years we’ve occasionally mentioned the following tidbits:


1.  We’re no fans of conference tie-ins with bowls.  We understand the business of it — conferences are guaranteed slots and money, bowls are guaranteed dancing partners and visiting fans — but we don’t enjoy watching the same games year after year after year.  If you’re reading this site, you’re likely an SEC fan.  So “SEC versus Big Ten” in three Florida bowls every January 1st afternoon is probably just as old to you as it is to us.  Seriously, doesn’t it seem as though Georgia and Michigan State have played each other in about five straight bowls?

2.  We say open up the bowls just like the old days.  You remember… back when an SEC school might go to Atlanta one year, El Paso the next, and then on to Jacksonville the next.  There was always some new opportunity and the suspense of learning a team’s bowl fate was part of the late-season fun.  That said, the only negative with the old system involved under-the-table agreements made in early-November.  Inevitably, some team would sign on with a bowl, then lose its last two or three games to turn what looked to be a great matchup into a total yawner.

3.  The way around that problem would be to create a bowl draft, if you will.  No backdoor deals.  Just a live, on-air draft — think ESPN wouldn’t air that? — involving all of the bowls based on their combined payouts.


Right now would be a great time to put the MrSEC plan into action, too.  At the end of the 2014 season, college football will launch a new age.  Two bowls will act as national semifinals in a first-ever FBS playoff.  The four participants in the playoff will be selected by a committee.  That selection committee will also fill four more bowls with the next eight best teams in the country.  The semifinals will rotate through the same six bowls X amount of times over a 12-year period, depending on the game.  It’s believed three of those “big six” bowls will be played on New Year’s Eve and three more on New Year’s Day.

Those six bowls will likely include the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, and Cotton Bowl.  One of those will become the new SEC/Big XII “Champions” Bowl.  For argument’s sake, let’s say the Cotton becomes the “Champions” Bowl.  That leaves one more slot available in those six major games and we’ll tab the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta for the final spot.  From their kickoff games to the SEC Championship Game to their postseason bowl, the capital city of Georgia is pretty proactive when it comes to college football.  Now, the Outback Bowl in Tampa or the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas (Houston) could work their way into that sixth slot, too, but again — for the sake of argument — we’ll just pretend Atlanta gets the nod.

So six games are off the table: Rose, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, Cotton (“Champions”), and Chick-fil-A.  There will be no BCS National Championship Game in the new format as the winners of the semifinals will meet in a title game that will be bid out to a different host city each year.  So that’s one less bowl than we have now.  We’re left with 28 additional bowls to be filled.

Just imagine this scenario: On the Sunday following the conference championship games in 2014, the selection committee and representatives from all 34 bowls are seated inside one massive theater (a la the NFL draft).  The committee members announce their picks for the four big bowls.  Then they announce the participants in the two semifinal bowls.

With 12 teams off the draft board, the remaining bowl committees start poring over their data.  They know which teams are ranked highest.  They know which schools travel best.  They know which schools bring in the biggest television ratings.  Armed with that info, the final 28 bowls begin picking their matchups… either for good TV numbers to satisfy their title sponsors or for tourism dollars to please their civic leaders.

It would be a combination of college basketball’s Selection Sunday and the NFL draft.  Millions would watch.

The selection order for the draft portion of the event would be determined by the combined payout of each game.  The more a bowl pays out to the schools it invites, the higher it’s slot in the draft would be.

Now let’s have a little fun just to see how this would all work.

We’ll use Jerry Palm’s 2012 preseason rankings as our guide.  We’ll act as though his ratings are dead-on and that his top 68 teams will all finish bowl eligible.  Then we’ll try to imagine how each bowl committee would pick its teams from there.  Further, let’s assume that the bowl tie-ins for the big games will look like this: Rose (Big Ten/Pac-12 champs), Cotton (SEC/Big XII champs), Orange (ACC champ/Notre Dame with 9 wins or more).  Other leagues like the Mountain West or Big East might line up spots for their champions, too, but for now we’ll just lock in those five leagues and Notre Dame as there has already been plenty of speculation that that’s exactly what will eventually happen.  That would leave the Sugar, Fiesta and Chick-fil-A wide open for selection committee assignments.

Here’s how we think a bowl lineup created by a selection panel and draft would look.  Just to be clear, we’re using Palm’s 2012 projections, 2012′s bowl lineup and combined payout numbers, 2014′s assumed playoff and “big bowl” plan, plus our own idea of a draft for the remaining 28 smaller bowls.  For kicks, we’ll give the first semifinals to the Fiesta and Sugar Bowls.  Also, in this scenario we’ll pretend Notre Dame does not win nine games and gain entry to the Orange Bowl.  Here goes…


  Bowl   Picking Position   City   Matchup
  Tostitos Fiesta Bowl   Semifinalists picked by panel   Glendale, AZ   2 Southern Cal vs 3 Alabama
  Allstate Sugar Bowl   Semifinalists picked by panel   New Orleans, LA   1 LSU vs 4 Oklahoma
  Discover Orange Bowl   ACC vs Panel Pick   Miami Gardens, FL   Florida State vs South Carolina
  AT&T Cotton (“Champions” Bowl)   SEC vs Big XII   Arlington, TX   Georgia vs West Virginia
  Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO   Big Ten vs Pac-12   Pasadena, CA   Michigan vs Oregon
  Chick-fil-A Bowl   Panel Pick vs Panel Pick   Atlanta, GA   Arkansas vs Clemson
  Outback Bowl   Draft 1 ($7.0m)   Tampa, FL   Wisconsin vs Texas
  Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl   Draft 2 ($6.65m)   Tempe, AZ   Ohio State vs Oklahoma State
  Valero Alamo Bowl   Draft 3 ($6.35m)   San Antonio, TX   Michigan State vs TCU Gator Bowl   Draft 4 ($5.45m)   Jacksonville, FL   Virginia Tech vs Nebraska
  Capital One Bowl   Draft 5 ($4.55m)   Orlando, FL   Kansas State vs Florida
  Russell Athletic Bowl   Draft 6 ($4.55m)   Orlando, FL   Auburn vs Notre Dame
  Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl   Draft 7 ($4.15m)   San Diego, CA   Boise State vs Stanford
  Hyundai Sun Bowl   Draft 8 ($4.0m)   El Paso, TX   Utah vs Baylor
  Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl   Draft 9 ($3.725m)   Nashville, TN   Missouri vs Louisville
  New Era Pinstripe Bowl   Draft 10 ($3.6m)   New York, NY   Iowa vs Rutgers
  Belk Bowl   Draft 11 ($3.4m)   Charlotte, NC   North Carolina vs Mississippi State
  Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas   Draft 12 ($3.4m)   Houston, TX   Texas A&M vs Houston
  AutoZone Liberty Bowl   Draft 13 ($2.875m)   Memphis, TN   Tennessee vs Georgia Tech
  AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl   Draft 14 ($2.3m)   Shreveport, LA   Southern Miss vs South Florida
  MAACO Bowl Las Vegas   Draft 15 ($2.2m)   Las Vegas, NV   Washington vs Illinois
  TicketCity Bowl   Draft 16 ($2.2m)   Dallas, TX   UCLA vs Penn State
  Military Bowl presented by Northrup Grumman   Draft 17 ($2.0m)   Washington, DC   Navy vs Virginia
  BBVA Compass Bowl   Draft 18 ($1.925m)   Birmingham, AL   Northwestern vs UCF
  Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl   Draft 19 ($1.675m)   San Francisco, CA   California vs BYU
  Little Caesars Pizza Bowl   Draft 20 ($1.5m)   Detroit, MI   Purdue vs Arizona Bowl   Draft 21 ($1.5m)   Mobile, AL   Arkansas State vs Cincinnati
  Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl   Draft 22 ($1.3m)   Honolulu, HI   Pittsburgh vs San Diego State
  Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl   Draft 23 ($1.2m)   Ft. Worth, TX   Louisiana Tech vs Nevada
  Beef ‘O’Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg   Draft 24 ($1.075m)   St. Petersburg, FL   FIU vs Western Michigan
  San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl   Draft 25 ($1.0m)   San Diego, CA   Fresno State vs Northern Illinois
  R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl   Draft 26 ($1.0m)   New Orleans, LA   Ohio vs Louisiana-Lafayette
  Gildan New Mexico Bowl   Draft 27 ($.912m)   Albuquerque, NM   Bowling Green vs Tulsa
  Famous Idaho Potato Bowl   Draft 28 ($.65m)   Boise, ID   Wyoming vs Toledo


One can argue over whether a certain bowl would pick Team A over Team B, but that’s not the point of this exercise.  The goal is to show that with an open, draft-like system, fans could visit more cities, teams could face more varied foes, and bowls could create more desirable matchups.

Will something like this ever come to pass?  Never say never.  After all, in two years we are getting a playoff and no one would have dreamed a year ago that that could or would turnaround so quickly.

With conferences now looking to control more of the cash by owning their own games, it’s likely that the old “you have to guarantee us you’ll sell 10,000 tickets” days are over.  The schools have more of the power in the new system.  So the bowls might not put up as much squawk over losing those automatic conference tie-ins as one might think.

And if a draft forced bowls to up the amount of money they pay out, schools and conferences might be willing to part with the guaranteed tie-ins, too.

Likely?  No.  But we certainly believe our plan would make for a more interesting postseason year-in and year-out.

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Signing Day 2011: Where The Talent Came From

We wanted to put together one final breakdown of where the SEC’s talent came from on signing day 2011.  Below you can see exactly where each school went to land its signees and enrollees in this year’s class.  Or you can look state by state to see which areas of the country produced the most SEC talent.

The schools of the SEC run along the top of the grid with the 27 states and one country — Canada — that sent players to the SEC running down the left side of the grid.

Cyrus Kouandjio and Jadeveon Clowney are still undecided, when they make their selections, we’ll update the grid.

AL 7 1 10 0 0 3 1 0 3 0 1 1 27
AR 0 7 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 9
AZ 2 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6
CA 1 2 0 0 0 1 0 1 2 0 1 1 9
CT 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
CO 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
DE 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
FL 4 1 3 13 4 2 0 1 2 4 6 5 45
GA 3 2 5 0 19 8 0 1 0 11 7 1 57
IA 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
IL 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 3
IN 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2
KS 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 3
KY 0 0 0 0 0 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 6
LA 1 1 1 0 0 1 16 2 1 0 0 0 23
MI 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 3
MO 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
MS 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 16 14 0 1 1 35
NC 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 6
NJ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 2
NY 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 3
OH 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3
OK 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
SC 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 9 2 0 12
TN 1 0 0 0 1 3 0 0 0 0 7 5 17
TX 0 5 0 0 0 0 3 0 1 0 1 1 11
VA 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 1 5
CAN 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
TOTAL 23 30 24 18 25 26 22 22 27 30 28 21 296

A few notes on this year’s class:

* No school got fewer players from its home state than Vanderbilt with five.  Kentucky was next with just six in-state signees.  The Wildcats lost out on the top three-ranked players in the state.  Arkansas, Tennessee and Alabama each grabbed seven signees from inside their own state’s borders.

* For the second year in a row, Georgia produced more SEC signees than any other state despite the larger talent pool in Florida.  So what gives?  In Georgia, SEC schools are recruiting only against UGA and Georgia Tech.  In the state of Florida, recruits have the option of staying clost to home to play for FBS teams: Florida, Florida State, Miami, South Florida, UCF, Florida Atlantic and Florida International.

* For the second year in a row, Mississippi and Alabama produced more SEC signees than did Louisiana.  Yet from 1988 through 2010, the Pelican State produced more NFL draft picks (251) than either Alabama (178) or Mississippi (137).

* More SEC signees came from Texas (12) than from Arkansas (9) or Kentucky (6).  California produced nine SEC signees.

* SEC teams grabbed just three players from the traditionally deep recruiting base of Ohio (3) and Pennsylvania (0) combined.  Last year league schools got six signees from those states.

* Last year the SEC brought in 305 signees from 23 different states.  This year the total number of signees was 296 entering the league from 27 different states and Canada.

Below is a peek at the year-to-year changes to the SEC’s talent pool.  On the left are the states that produced the most talent for the league on signing day 2010.  On the right are those same states’ numbers for 2011:

2010 Rank State Signees from State Pct. of SEC Signees 2011 Rank State Signees from State Pct. of SEC Signees
1 GA 65 21.3% 1 GA 57 19.2%
2 FL 46 15.0% 2 FL 45 15.2%
3 MS 37 12.1% 3 MS 35 11.8%
4 AL 36 11.8% 4 AL 27 9.1%
5 LA 19 6.2% 5 LA 23 7.7%
6 SC 17 5.5% 6 TN 17 5.7%
7 TX 15 4.9% 7 SC 12 4.0%
8 TN 12 3.9% 8 TX 11 3.7%
9 CA 9 2.9% 9t AR 9 3.0%
10 AR 8 2.6% 9t CA 9 3.0%
11 VA 6 1.9% 11t AZ 6 2.0%
12t NC 5 1.6% 11t KY 6 2.0%
12t OH 5 1.6% 11t NC 6 2.0%
12t OK 5 1.6% 14 VA 5 1.6%
15t KS 4 1.3% 15t IL 3 1.0%
15t KY 4 1.3% 15t KS 3 1.0%
17 MD 3 .9% 15t MI 3 1.0%
18t IL 2 .6% 15t NY 3 1.0%
18t MO 2 .6% 15t OH 3 1.0%
18t NY 2 .6% 20t CT 2 .6%
21t CT 1 .3% 20t DE 2 .6%
22t NJ 1 .3% 20t IN 2 .6%
22t PA 1 .3% 20t NJ 2 .6%
24 IA 1 .3%
24 CO 1 .3%
24 MO 1 .3%
24 OK 1 .3%
24 Canada 1 .3%

(Sidenote — Those few juco signees entering the SEC this year are counted as coming from the state of their junior college.  This is where SEC coaches had to recruit them for signing day 2011.)

Post Comments » Comments (6) Hot List And Bowl Primer

Usually, we bring you our Monday Hot List rankings with a helping of news and notes on each squad.  This week we took a bit more time so we could bring you not only our 1 through 12 rankings of the SEC’s best teams… but also the bowl prospects and projections for each squad. 

Enjoy… Hot List Rankings

1.  Auburn Bowl Possibilities:

a) BCS Championship Game (Glendale, AZ) vs Oregon, TCU or Boise State — if they remain undefeated (and untouched by the NCAA/SEC)

b) Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA) vs TCU or Ohio State — if they lose to Alabama but defeat South Carolina

c) Orange Bowl (Miami, FL) vs Virginia Tech — if they beat Alabama but lose to South Carolina

d) Cotton Bowl (Orlando, FL) vs Michigan State — if they lose to Alabama and South Carolina

e) At Home — if the NCAA or SEC find enough evidence to rule Cam Newton ineligible and force forfeits

MrSEC Prediction: BCS Championship Game vs Oregon

Why: The Tigers’ defense is not championship caliber, but no one to date has been able to match Cam Newton point for point.  If Alabama or South Carolina play perfectly on offense, Auburn can be had.  But they have to play perfectly.

2.  LSU Bowl Possibilities:

a) BCS Championship Game (Glendale, AZ) vs Oregon, TCU or Boise State –  if a whole lot of breaks go the Tigers’ way

b) Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA) vs TCU — if they beat Arkansas and Auburn reaches the BCS title game… or if they beat Arkansas and South Carolina after Auburn is forced to forfeit/vacate wins

c) Cotton Bowl (Arlington, TX) vs Nebraska, Oklahoma State or Oklahoma — if they beat Arkansas but fail to earn a BCS bid

d) Outback Bowl (Tampa, FL) vs Iowa — if they lose to Arkansas Prediction: Sugar Bowl vs TCU

Why: I still think Auburn reaches the BCS title game (barring NCAA involvement) and a 1-loss SEC team would be very hard for the Sugar Bowl to turn down.  If not, LSU would be a good draw for the Cotton Bowl (possibly against former D-coordinator Bo Pelini).  And the Tigers have not played in Tampa since 1989.  Lots of options.

3.  Alabama Bowl Possibilities:

a) Capital One Bowl (Orlando, FL) vs Michigan State — if they beat Auburn or lose to Auburn Prediction: Capital One Bowl vs Michigan State

Why: It would be tough for a two-loss Bama squad to leapfrog some one-loss teams for a BCS slot.  Also, the Tide hasn’t been to Orlando since 1995 and the chance to match Nick Saban against his former employer would make for solid television ratings.  This is the closest thing to a lock on the SEC board.

4.  Arkansas Bowl Possibilities:

a) Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA) vs TCU — if they beat LSU and Auburn reaches the BCS Championship Game

b) Cotton Bowl (Arlington, TX) vs Nebraska, Oklahoma State or Oklahoma — if they beat LSU or lose to LSU

c) Outback Bowl (Tampa, FL) vs Iowa — if they lose to LSU Prediction: Outback Bowl vs Iowa

Why: Arkansas is good enough to upset LSU on Saturday, but who would bet against Les Miles at this point?  The Outback Bowl always seems to make a controversial selection and I believe they’ll go with a West Division team once again.  Arkansas has never played in the Tampa bowl.  More reasons for this pick below…

5.  South Carolina Bowl Possibilities:

a) Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA) vs TCU or Ohio State — if they beat Auburn in the SEC Championship Game

b) Outback Bowl (Tampa, FL) vs Iowa — if they lose to Auburn and/or Clemson

c) Cotton Bowl (Arlington, TX) vs Nebraska, Oklahoma State or Oklahoma — if they lose to Auburn and/or Clemson Prediction: Cotton Bowl vs Oklahoma

Why: South Carolina was creamed by Iowa in Tampa two years ago.  They have been to the Outback Bowl three times since 2001 as a matter of fact.  But Carolina has never played in the Cotton Bowl.  It makes sense for the Outback and Cotton to flip-flop their East-West picks this year.  Especially if former Steve Spurrier assistant Bob Stoops can lead Oklahoma into this game.  (If Nebraska is available, expect the Huskers to get the nod as they’ll be out of the Cotton Bowl’s pool when they move to the Big Ten next year.)

6.  Mississippi State Bowl Possibilities:

a) Chick-fil-A Bowl (Atlanta, GA) vs Florida State or NC State — if they beat Ole Miss… possibly if they lose to Ole Miss

b) Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, FL) vs Penn State — if they beat Ole Miss… possibly if they lose to Ole Miss

c) Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN) vs Maryland, North Carolina, Miami, or Georgia Tech — if they lose to Ole Miss

d) Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN) vs UCF or SMU — if they lose to Ole Miss and a ton of breaks go against them (like Florida to the Chick-fil-A, Kentucky to the Gator and Tennessee to the Music City). Prediction: Gator Bowl vs Penn State

Why: If the Chick-fil-A folks can match Florida with either Miami or Florida State (in a rematch of the season finale), it’s possible they’ll take that guaranteed TV and crowd draw.  That would leave MSU to pack their cowbells and head to a Florida bowl for the first time since the Bulldogs knocked off the Georgetown Hoyas in the 1940 Orange Bowl.

7.  Florida Bowl Possibilities:

a) Chick-fil-A Bowl (Atlanta, GA) vs Miami or Florida State — if they win or lose to FSU this weekend

b) Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, FL) vs Penn State — if they win or lose to FSU this weekend Prediction: Chick-fil-A Bowl vs Miami

Why: It all depends on the availability of Miami or Florida State.  Florida-Miami — even in a down year — would be a solid TV draw and would lure Gator and Cane fans to Atlanta.  A rematch with FSU would also bring in fans of both schools.  The winner of Saturday’s game would grumble and the loser would rejoice at a second chance.  In the end, mutual hate would draw both fanbases to the Georgia Dome.

8.  Georgia Bowl Possibilities:

a) Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN) vs Maryland, North Carolina, Miami or Georgia Tech — if they beat Georgia Tech and become bowl eligible

b) Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN) vs UCF or SMU — if they beat Georgia Tech Prediction: Liberty Bowl vs UCF

Why: The Bulldogs should dispatch Georgia Tech, but if Tennessee beats Kentucky (more on that below), the Dawgs could fall past the Vols in the bowl selection process.  Liberty Bowl officials are already eyeing the Bulldogs who haven’t played in the Memphis game since topping Arkansas — then of the Southwest Conference — back in 1987.  If the Dawgs reach Memphis, they’ll likely face former Georgia Tech coach George O’Leary and Central Florida.

9.  Kentucky Bowl Possibilities:

a) Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, FL) vs Penn State — if they beat Tennessee

b) Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN) vs Maryland, North Carolina, Miami or Georgia Tech — if they beat Tennessee or lose to Tennessee

c) Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN) vs UCF or SMU — if they lose to Tennessee

d) BBVA Compass Bowl (Birmingham, AL) vs Syracuse, South Florida or Louisville — if they lose to Tennessee

e) A Non-SEC Tie-In Bowl — if they lose to Tennessee, Georgia beats Georgia Tech (making 10 league teams bowl eligible) and the SEC only lands one squad in the BCS.  The league would then have to campaign to find UK a spot in another bowl. Prediction: BBVA Compass Bowl vs South Florida

Why: After 25 years of losing to Tennessee, I’ll believe the Cats can beat the Vols when I see it.  Kentucky’s last five bowl appearances have been in Nashville and Memphis so expect them to drop down to the newly named BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham.  If that’s the case, a rematch with Louisville might force fans of both schools to attend the game due totally to hate.  More likely, UK will face Skip Holtz… who they beat in the 2008 Liberty Bowl when he was with East Carolina.  However, if UK does beat UT, it might be hard for the Gator Bowl to pass on a Kentucky fanbase that travels well.

10.  Tennessee Bowl Possibilities:

a) Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN) vs Maryland, North Carolina, Miami or Georgia Tech — if they beat Kentucky to become bowl eligible

b) Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN) vs UCF or SMU — if they beat Kentucky Prediction: Music City Bowl vs North Carolina

Why: If UT becomes bowl eligible, it’s hard to imagine a Tennessee-based bowl passing on them.  Plus, the Vols would be finishing with more momentum — four straight wins — than Georgia.  Music City Bowl officials also know that they would get fan turnout and solid media coverage with a contentious UT-UNC matchup.  (Unless, of course, Tennessee tried to buy out the Tar Heels in favor of Buffalo.)

11.  Ole Miss

65 teams are now bowl eligible and 70 are needed.  In other words, it’s unlikely a 5-7 team will be extended a bowl invitation this year.  That means Saturday’s Egg Bowl likely is Ole Miss’ bowl game this season.

12.  Vanderbilt

There’ll be no bowl for the Commodores this year. 

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SEC East Championship Set For 7:15pm on ESPN or ESPN2

South Carolina
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The South Carolina Gamecocks will play the Florida Gators for what will most likely be the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division Championship on November 13th at 7:15pm on either ESPN or ESPN2 in Gainesville, FL.  #17 South Carolina is currently 6-2 (3-2) and coming off of a win against Tennessee.  Florida improved to 6-3 (3-3) after defeating Georgia in overtime at the game formerly known as the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.  This week, the Gators travel to Nashville to play Vanderbilt (2-6, 1-4).  Carolina plays #19 Arkansas (6-2, 3-2) in the friendly confines of Williams-Brice Stadium, where the Gamecocks have now won 16 of their last 19 games.  While a Gator loss and a South Carolina victory would make the title of this post obsolete and crown the Gamecocks SEC East Champs, a Carolina loss and probable Florida win will not disrupt the Gamecocks’ shot in Gainesville.  South Carolina has never won at The Swamp.  The time is now.

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