Bowl Talk

During the telecast of the Southeastern Conference Championship Game, CBS commentator Tim Brando reported the UCLA upset of Southern Cal and added that the result means that LSU will not be playing in the Rose Bowl. That may or may not be true. The reason this is of interest is the need for LSU and the SEC champion to both be in BCS games so a bowl is open for Bama.

Alabama has been projected as playing in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport on December 28. However, that projection has been based on the SEC getting two teams in BCS bowl games.

To recap quickly, the SEC is guaranteed at least one team in BCS competition (Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, Orange, and fifth bowl at the BCS Champiosnip site, this year at the Fiesta) and seven affiliated bowls. A team must have six wins to be bowl eligible. The bowl bids are awarded based on number of wins. Alabama ranks last among the nine SEC teams that are bowl eligible. Thus, the Tide needs two teams to make the BCS field.

The winner of the Florida-Arkansas game is assured of the SEC's guaranteed BCS spot. If it is not in the BCS championship game, the SEC champion goes to the Sugar Bowl.

A Florida win in the SEC Championship Game would give the Gators an outside chance at the BCS Championship Game, but it is an outside chance. In all probability the BCS title game will re-match Ohio State and Michigan. Therefore, put the SEC champion in the Sugar Bowl.

But even if Florida should make it to the BCS Championship Game, LSU should be safe for a BCS Bowl. The Rose Bowl would then take Michigan for a traditional Pac-10 vs. Big Ten match-up. And then the Sugar Bowl would gleefully snap up LSU.

USC is now headed to the Rose Bowl. LSU should be the number four team in the BCS rankings. Prior to UCLA's upset of Southern Cal, most expected LSU to be in the Rose Bowl against USC or Michigan.

There is no reason to expect that to change, Brando's pronouncement notwithstanding.

For one thing, the Rose Bowl should like to have USC against LSU. A few years ago that was the matchup the Trojans would have expected when, instead, the BCS put Oklahoma against LSU even after the Sooners' loss in the Big 12 Championship Game.

The winner of the Big 12 this year (Nebraska or Oklahoma) is expected to go to the pre-championship Fiesta Bowl to play Boise State.

The other BCS Game, the Orange Bowl, is expected to have the sure-to-be-classic Wake Forest vs. Louisville.

But the only thing we care about is Alabama. If something happens and Rutgers or someone gets the BCS game that LSU should get, then Bama probably will be left out of bowl competition.

But that seems unlikely.

And Alaama is expected to meet either Oklahoma State or Kansas State from the Big 12.

Bowl pairings will be revealed Sunday.

The only thing that gives pause to this reasoning is that Tim Brando is an LSU partisan, and one would think he would have a handle on the outlook for the Bengal Tigers.

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