LSU Bowl Projections

With the regular season completed, the attention now turns to which bowl game LSU will play in. While the final weekend of the season will play a large part in the ultimate scenario, the Cotton and Outback Bowls seem the likeliest destinations at this point for the Tigers.

It took the most chaotic weekend of the 2013 football season for LSU's bowl picture to really become clear. Alabama's loss to Auburn guaranteed that two SEC teams will receive BCS bowl invitations this season, whether it be for the national championship, Sugar Bowl or an at-large bid for the Tide.

The winner of the SEC Championship Game will get the automatic bid for the conference, while Alabama will head to the Sugar if the SECCG winner gets a shot at a national championship. If they don't, the Tide will have the chance to play in whichever BCS bowl is looking for an at-large team.

That will leave the SECCG loser to the Capital One Bowl, which sends us to the next two bowls in the pecking order, the Cotton and Outback. This is where the LSU discussion begins.

Though the Cotton Bowl technically has a higher selection in the pecking order than the Outback, the two have been seen on the same level considering they mostly stick with division affiliations. The Cotton Bowl has selected eight straight teams from the SEC West, while the Outback has taken 15 of the last 16 from the SEC East.

So if you base it purely on that, it would seem highly likely that LSU heads to Arlington while South Carolina heads to Tampa for the Outback Bowl.

But it might not be that simple. The Gamecocks played in the Outback Bowl last year, and the Tigers were in the Cotton in 2010 and have played in Jerry's World twice since 2011. It's safe to say that these destinations have grown a bit stale for both teams.

LSU and South Carolina's bowl fates are intertwined
Cotton Bowl CEO Rick Baker even told The Post and Courier (Columbia, S.C.) last week that he'd "take a long, hard look" at South Carolina if they were available to be selected. Steve Spurrier has never coached in the Cotton Bowl, and that would be a new fanbase and market for the Cotton Bowl to get a piece of.

Meanwhile, LSU hasn't played in the Outback Bowl since 1988, a 17-10 loss to Syracuse. So the Tigers would definitely have an attraction to something new as well, as sources already told TSD that they'd reject a Chick-fil-A Bowl invitation after playing there last season.

So the decision essentially boils down to something old or something new. If the Cotton opts to go with the status quo and select the highest available West team, LSU's heading to the Cotton. If they instead go for a new face, South Carolina could get featured in Arlington.

But there is a more extreme scenario that's played out in national bowl projections. The Cotton Bowl has a tie-in for the second selection of Big 12 teams. After this past weekend, Baylor and Texas are the No. 2 and No. 3 team in that conference, meaning this weekend's matchup between those two could essentially be a play-in for the Cotton Bowl. If the Longhorns end up receiving the invitation, the Cotton would have an interesting decision as to which SEC team would matchup against them.

Though it would definitely be a reach, the Cotton Bowl might be seeing dollar signs if they were to stage a rejuvenation of the rivalry between Texas and Texas A&M. Imagine the audience that would tune in to see Johnny Manziel's final collegiate game in one of college football's oldest rivalries. Though that would mean selecting a team behind both LSU and South Carolina in the pecking order, bowl invites are not always based on merit but more on the potential winnings the bowl would rake in from the contest.

If that proves to be the case, that leaves the Outback to select either LSU or South Carolina, with the other dropping down to either the Chick-fil-A or Gator Bowl.

That being said, the Cotton or Outback remains the most likely destinations for LSU where they'll either face a Big 12 or Big 10 opponent. As I mentioned before, the Bears and Longhorns are probable teams to reach the Cotton Bowl, while the Outback will likely have its choice between Wisconsin or Iowa.


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