Bowl Picture To Be Sorted Out In Coming Days

A look at the bowl scenarios for Auburn and the entire Southeastern Conference is featured in this report.

While there are rumors and uncertainty surrounding the Auburn football program the week following a 28-23 victory over Alabama, the one thing that is certain is the Tigers will make a postseason bowl appearance somewhere this season. The only question now is where?

The most likely destination for the Tigers is the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn., to face the Wisconsin Badgers. The game is scheduled to be played on New Year's Eve with an 11 a.m. CST kickoff. The Badgers finished the regular season 7-5 overall and 4-4 in Big 10 play following a loss to Iowa Saturday to close the season.

That scenario is the one most likely to happen, but there are several possibilities for the Tigers depending on what happens in a handful of games over the next two weeks. The first game is the Egg Bowl game between Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Should the Rebels lose the LSU Tigers would win the SEC West and make Friday's game against Arkansas meaningless in the SEC race. Win and the Tigers will need a win over the Hogs to earn a trip to Atlanta.

Tommy Tuberville enjoys Auburn's bowl victory over Joe Paterno's Penn State Nittany Lions to close the 2002 season.

Georgia has already punched its ticket for the SEC title game and is now waiting on an opponent, but the Tennessee Volunteers could be the big winners in the SEC before the smoke clears. With a victory over Kentucky the Vols would finish 10-2 and put themselves in position to earn a BCS bowl bid. If that happens it would change the SEC bowl picture for 2003.

The winner of the SEC title game will receive an automatic bid into the BCS and will likely face either Miami or Florida State in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, but an LSU win could also place the Tigers in the Fiesta Bowl against Texas. The Vols could also earn a berth and that could mean a trip to Tempe, Ariz., to face Texas in the Fiesta Bowl. Ohio State is also a possibility for a BCS berth and it could be a toss-up until the end between the Vols and Buckeyes on who gets the last spot.

With two SEC teams in the BCS that would drop the SEC Championship Game loser into the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla., on Jan. 1 with the Florida Gators headed to the Outback Bowl in Tampa, also on New Year's Day. With an LSU victory over Arkansas the Ole Miss Rebels would be the odds-on favorite to be invited to the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2 in Dallas with Arkansas or Auburn in Atlanta for the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl on the same day, with the Hogs thought to be the first choice for the game.

If the SEC lands just the champion in the BCS then the runner-up in the league would head to Orlando with Tennessee moving down to the Outback Bowl. Florida would likely head to Atlanta for the Peach Bowl with Auburn in Nashville and Arkansas in Shreveport for the Mainstay Independence Bowl on New Year's Eve. Ole Miss still lands in the Cotton Bowl with the new Houston Bowl on Dec. 30 left out of the picture because of a lack of SEC teams being bowl eligible.

Bowl Projections:

Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma vs. USC
Orange Bowl: Miami vs. Ohio State
Fiesta Bowl: LSU vs. Florida State
Rose Bowl: Michigan vs. Texas
Citrus Bowl: Georgia vs. Purdue
Outback Bowl: Tennessee vs. Iowa
Cotton Bowl: Ole Miss vs. Oklahoma State
Peach Bowl: Florida vs. Clemson
Music City Bowl: Auburn vs. Wisconsin
Mainstay Independence Bowl: Arkansas vs. Texas Tech/Missouri

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