South Carolina BCS contenders?

South Carolina was eliminated from SEC East contention by Florida's win over Missouri Saturday. However, is Carolina still in contention for a BCS Bowl? If things fall their way, there is a very real chance South Carolina could be going to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl to face the Big East Champion. What must happen for the Gamecocks to earn their first BCS bid?

Though South Carolina has been eliminated from SEC East contention by Florida's 14-7 win over Missouri on Saturday, Carolina is still in the running for a potential BCS bid. It is not unprecedented for a team to earn a BCS bid without even playing for their conference championship. In just the last two seasons the SEC has sent two teams to a BCS bowl that didn't make the trip to Atlanta. In 2010, it was Auburn defeating Carolina in Atlanta en route to their national championship, but it was Arkansas that earned a bid to the Sugar Bowl. Last season LSU crushed Georgia in the SEC Championship game, but Alabama earned a rematch with LSU in the National Championship game.

Alabama is very likely going to get the opportunity to defend their national championship. They will beat a very good Texas A&M team at home and Western Carolina and Auburn will present the Crimson Tide with nothing more than warm-up for the SEC Championship game. There they will meet either Georgia or Florida, and neither has what it will take to beat Alabama.

That leaves four teams battling for a bid in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans; Georgia, Florida, LSU, and South Carolina. All four could use some help from the other three and none of four are anywhere near automatic unless the SEC East champion beats Alabama. The four teams are ranked fifth through eighth after week 10 of the 2012 season.

Right now, Georgia is in the driver's seat to win the SEC East, but they could be in the backseat when it comes to a Sugar Bowl bid. ESPN's Mark Schlabach has the Bulldogs facing Big East champion Louisville in the Sugar Bowl. Should Georgia win their final three games, which they should, against Auburn, Georgia Southern, and Georgia Tech, they would finish the season 11-1. However, a loss to Alabama while Florida, LSU, and South Carolina watches from home could end up having a negative impact and leave Georgia on the outside looking in for a BCS bid.

Florida also has a great chance at finishing 11-1 and would be the beneficiary of a Georgia loss in the SEC Championship. Even though Georgia beat Florida on the field, a second Bulldog loss would all but ensure them of the highest ranking in the BCS and a match-up with Louisville in the Sugar Bowl.

Both South Carolina and LSU need help, but LSU could end up needing the most help. With a remaining schedule of Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Arkansas their computer rankings may take a hit. MSU is not the team they were three weeks ago and are slipping way down in the polls. Ole Miss and Arkansas will do little to boost their computer rankings, and they are currently just slightly ahead of South Carolina in the latest BCS standings.

South Carolina is the team sitting back there at eighth in the latest BCS standings, but could be sitting in the catbird seat. All South Carolina needs to do is win out and hope Florida State can knock off Florida in Tallahassee. There is a catch. For the next two weeks, Carolina fans need to become Clemson fans. By Clemson winning their next two games, they will sit just outside the top 10 in the BCS, meaning a South Carolina win over the Tigers could be the difference in the Gamecocks jumping both Florida and LSU. If they do that, Carolina will be nipping at the heels of Georgia heading into the SEC Championship game. An Alabama win in Atlanta would drop Georgia below South Carolina and the Gamecocks will be making reservations in New Orleans as ESPN's Brad Edwards predicts.

BCS Standings
1. Alabama

2. Kansas State
3. Notre Dame
4. Oregon
5. Georgia
6. Florida
7. LSU
8. South Carolina

9. Louisville
10. Florida State
11. Oregon State
12. Oklahoma
13. Clemson
14. Stanford
15. Texas A&M
16. Nebraska
17. Texas
18. UCLA
19. Southern Cal
20. Louisiana Tech
21. Mississippi State
22. Texas Tech
23. Rutgers
24. Northwestern
25. Toledo


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