Trying To Figure Tide Bowl Spot

There are 70 bowl slots and 35 teams with at least six victories, which works out perfectly. Now to figure out where Alabama goes. The first thing that can be done is eliminate the 10 spots reserved for BCS teams playing in the Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta Bowls and in the BCS National Championship Game.

Alabama is 9-3. The Crimson Tide failed to repeat as a national championship contender. In fact, with three conference losses, Bama failed to repeat as a Southeastern Conference contender. But Alabama will go bowling for a record 57th time in search of a record 33rd bowl victory. (Although the Tide officially has only 31 bowl wins since one was vacated, Alabama is nevertheless unsurpassed in bowl victories).

Alabama's bowl destination and opponent will be known this time next week. Before bowl bids can be issued, the conference championship games have to be played this weekend. Only one of those games – the SEC Championship Game between Auburn and South Carolina – will affect Alabama's bowl spot.

The SEC will have two teams in BCS bowl games, either Auburn in the BCS Championship Game and Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl or South Caroina in the Sugar Bowl and Auburn in the Orange Bowl.

After two SEC teams go to BCS games, the league has eight eligible bowl teams and eight bowl agreements.

In addition to Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, and South Carolina, SEC teams eligible for bowl games are LSU, Mississippi State, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

In addition to the BCS games, the SEC is contracted to provide teams for the Music City Bowl vs. an ACC opponent in Nashville Dec. 30, the Liberty Bowl vs. a C-USA team in Memphis Dec. 31, the Chick-fil-A Bowl vs. an ACC team in Atlanta Dec. 31, the Outback Bowl vs. a Big Ten team in Tampa Jan. 1, the Capital One Bowl vs. a Big Ten team in Orlando Jan. 1, the Gator Bowl vs. a Big Ten team in Jacksonville Dec. 1, the Cotton Bowl vs. a Big 12 team in Dallas Jan. 7, and the Birmingham Bowl vs. a Big East team Jan. 8.

After the BCS selections, the first SEC bowl to choose is the Capital One. After that the Cotton Bowl has its first choice of an SEC West team and the Outback Bowl its first choice of an SEC East team. (Those bowls can select from the other division, but must choose after the bowl with the division choice. If the Outback wants an SEC West team, it much select after the Cotton Bowl, and vice versa.)

Almost every projection has Alabama in one of four bowls – Capital One (probably against Michigan State), Cotton, Outback, or Chick-fil-A.

The Cotton Bowl was scheduled to have its first team selection meeting Tuesday. President Rick Baker said, "Both LSU and Alabama are certainly on our short list." While Oklahoma State appears a likely opponent for the SEC team in the Cotton Bowl, the Cowboys were in the Cotton last year, and the bowl tries to avoid having teams repeat in Dallas.

The president-elect of the Capital One Bowl is Larry Ruffin, a former Alabama player from Fayette. Ruffin has been to several Bama games this year, including the Auburn game last Friday. Ruffin did not list a favorite for the Orlando game, but did say"Alabama is definitely in contention for this bowl."

Ruffin said. "We have some real good options out of the SEC and we have some great options out of the Big Ten." Orlando, too, attempts to avoid repeat teams. LSU played in the Capital One last year.

Michigan State, once coached by Nick Saban, is the leading contender for the Capital One as the Big Ten representative. Alabama and Michigan State have never played against one another.

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