Bowl Picture Still Fuzzy for Gators

The BCS is a mess, but in all probability the Florida Gators can begin making their plans for Orlando and the Capital One Bowl.

Florida will find out for sure sometime Sunday afternoon where they'll wind up, but their bowl destination will be dependent on the final BCS Standings and BCS bowl selections, which will be announced at 8 p.m. on FOX. The closest thing to certainty for now is that Ohio State will return to the BCS Title Game for the second straight season.

What happens after that is anyone's guess. Georgia could stake a claim to the No. 2 spot since they're at No. 4 and could likely jump ahead of both No. 1 Missouri and No. 2 West Virginia who lost on Saturday night. Should that happen, LSU heads to the Sugar Bowl and Florida is eliminated from BCS bowl contention since a conference can only have two BCS teams.

Georgia jumping to No. 2 could be hindered by one of the conference champions from Saturday leaping over the Dawgs in the polls and the computer rankings. LSU, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech and USC could receive special consideration from the voters for actually winning their conference title unlike Georgia. LSU is the best candidate to make such a move, and then possibly Virginia Tech. USC and Oklahoma may be too far down the rankings to make such a jump.

How does all this impact the Gators? Florida could still get a BCS bid because, first, they qualify for an at-large bid, and second, the Orange Bowl may want the in-state Gators to boost ticket sales for the game. However, Florida would need Georgia to drop in the BCS rankings since the Dawgs currently qualify for an automatic bid with their No. 4 ranking. But if Georgia does drop, they are also likely candidates to earn a Rose Bowl bid. The Rose Bowl gets the first selection since they lose Ohio State to the national championship game. The Rose Bowl could select a Big Ten replacement, Illinois, or choose Georgia who is higher ranked and travels well.

The Rose Bowl's decision is not impacted if LSU doesn't make it into the BCS Title Game. They still lose Ohio State, and they still have the first selection and could still choose the Dawgs.

LSU is definitely headed to either the BCS Title Game or the Sugar Bowl. Any chance Florida has at reaching a BCS bowl rests in the Rose Bowl's hands. If the bowl passes over Georgia for Illinois or someone else, and the Bulldogs do not automatically qualify, Florida's best chance would be to head to the Orange Bowl and face Virginia Tech.

But if the Gators don't head to Miami, it leaves two options – the Capital One Bowl in Orlando or the Outback Bowl in Tampa. Most likely, Florida is headed to the more prominent Capital One Bowl because they will be the next highest ranked team in the BCS and feature Heisman hopeful Tim Tebow. The Capital One could opt for Tennessee who won the SEC East, but the Gators handedly beat the Vols back in September. Both bowls will make their selections Sunday night after the BCS bowls are announced.

Wherever the Gators land, it will be a statement game for next season. With Tebow and a slew of playmakers returning on offense, plus nine possible starters returning on defense, Florida should be one of the favorites for the national title. The bowl game provides them with a chance to make an early statement before next season.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski


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