Bowl Speculation Almost Impossible
Alabama will benefit if there are no more upsets in SEC games this year (other than, of course, the Tide going into Auburn and upsetting the Tigers). This is the least likeliest season to think there will be no more upsets, or even to be sure what an upset is.
The loss to Mississippi State last week may have cost Alabama a little in bowl possibilities,
Starting with the premise that all SEC teams win the games they would be expected to win, it is reasonable to suggest that the winner of the Alabama-Auburn game will go to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas to meet a Big 12 opponent on January 1,and the loser will go to the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta to play an ACC opponent on December 31.
"But wait!" you say. "The Chick-fil-A has said it won't take a five-loss team, and the loser of the Bama-Auburn game is almost certainly going to be 7-5." But the Atlanta bowl may not have a choice, because a reasonable scenario is that there will be no teams available for the Chick-fil-A that do not have five losses.
If the teams of the SEC have the expected result in their remaining games the league will have two representatives in the BCS games–LSU in the national championship game in New Orleans on January 7 and probably Georgia with a 9-2 record in a BCS bowl game.
Leaving aside the Alabama-Auburn game, those expected results that impact bowl selections are:
• LSU defeating Ole Miss in Oxford and Arkansas in Baton Rouge.
• Tennessee defeating Vanderbilt in Knoxville and Kentucky in Lexington.
• Kentucky losing to Georgia in Athens and Tennessee in Lexington.
• Arkansas defeating Mississippi State in Fayetteville and losing to LSU in Baton Rouge.
• Mississippi State losing to Arkansas and defeating Ole Miss in Starkville.
The SEC has agreements with seven other bowls in addition to BCS placement.
The Capital One Bowl in Orlando has the first choice after the BCS selections and would likely take Florida to play a Big Ten opponent on January 1.
Next to choose are the Outback in Tampa and the Cotton in Dallas. The Outback gets first choice of an Eastern Division team and would take Tennessee, loser of the SEC Championship Game, to play a Big Ten team on January 1. The Cotton gets first choice of a Western Division team and would take the winner of the Alabama-Auburn game with the second best record in the West.
The Chick-fil-A gets the next pick and would then have its choice of a handful of teams expected to be 7-5, including the Alabama-Auburn loser, Mississippi State, Kentucky, and Arkansas. That game, against an ACC opponent, is December 31. Alabama has never played in the Chick-fil-A. With a win over Mississippi State last Saturday, the Crimson Tide would have been a lock for no worse than the Chick-fil-A.
The three teams left out of that tier of selections would fall to the next level. The Liberty Bowl and the Music City Bowl work with the conference office rather than having a designated order of selections. The Liberty is December 29 against a Conference USA opponent and the Music City December 31 against an ACC team.
That leaves one 7-5 team for the Independence Bowl to play against a Big 12 team on December 30.
South Carolina, expected to finish 6-6 and already finished with SEC play at 3-5, would be left out. The Gamecocks are on a four-game losing streak and play at Clemson November 24.
Ole Miss cannot achieve bowl eligibility status (six wins) and Vanderbilt with a 5-5 record is a long shot to win six games with contests remaining against Tennessee and Wake Forest.
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