As it will turn out, Saturday could not have gone any better for the SEC. The conference won all four of its non-conference games and will head into Bowl season with nine teams eligible thanks to the beating Ole Miss put on Mississippi State. Of those nine teams that are eligible, six have at least 10 wins and three have 11 wins. That means somebody will be disappointed in their destination. Who will it be?
There is no scenario that will leave an SEC team out of the National Championship. With Alabama and Georgia, the two division winners, ranked second and third in the BCS standings and Florida fourth, Notre Dame will play an SEC opponent in the National Championship in Miami. The only question is which team it will be. Much to the dismay of the country outside the SEC, the winner of the SEC Championship Saturday will be second in the BCS, or possibly jump Notre Dame for first, and will play the Irish for all the marbles. In either case, both would likely beat the Irish for yet another National Championship for the conference.
My projection: Bama
This could be a little interesting if Georgia beats Alabama to see who the Sugar Bowl will take. That's not likely to happen, and even if it does, it is still very likely that the Sugar Bowl will take the Gators. They would love to take Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel, but they must take the number three team in the BCS standings as the SEC representative. Even if Bama loses to Georgia, I don't see them falling just one spot.
My projection - Florida
Capital One Bowl
This one could be interesting and come down to distance. Would the Capital One Bowl love to have A&M? Absolutely. Would a lot of fans make the long trip to visit Orlando? Of course. The huge question will be how many fans will make the 16 hour drive from College Station to Orlando when you have a Georgia team that is only seven hours away. The Bowl committee will have a difficult decision when trying to decide who to take. If I'm on that committee I'm pushing for the closer distance. I'm going with the loser of the SEC Championship game regardless of who it is.
My projection - Georgia
Let me just say that if A&M is still around, the Cotton Bowl will be doing backflips. Could you imagine a match-up with Texas A&M and Texas? Texas is conceited enough to pass up on the opportunity just to avoid a game with A&M, but the Cotton would still love to have the Aggies. If the Aggies aren't there, LSU and South Carolina or real possibilities for this bowl.
On the other side, the Outback Bowl will come down to LSU and South Carolina. Under normal circumstances it would be an easy choice for the Outback Bowl to take the team from the East. However, the Outback Bowl still has a bad taste in their mouth from the last time Carolina was in Tampa and the Carolina fans are of the same feelings. Like most programs in the SEC, LSU fans travel well regardless of where they are playing. That will be enough for the Outback Bowl to pass over the Gamecocks for the Tigers.
My projection: LSU
If South Carolina is still on the tables when it comes to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, the Chick-fil-A Bowl will join the Gamecocks as the big losers this year. Because the ACC is so horrible this year, they have no choice but to take Clemson. Outside of the two fanbases, no one wants to see Carolina and Clemson meet for the second time in a month. Outside of a possible National Championship, no Bowl will take two teams that just played each other to end the season. Because of that, the Chick-fil-A Bowl will be forced to take a Mississippi State team that lost four of its last five games after starting 7-0 and none of the games were closer than three scores.
My projection: Mississippi State
Once again, South Carolina could be the team left out in the cold. While a trip to the Gator Bowl would be a disappointment after another 10-win season, Jacksonville is not an unreasonable drive from Columbia and there are a fair amount of places to visit and things to do if you plan staying for a few days. The match-up with the Big 10 likely will not be too intriguing with Ohio State and Penn State, the top two teams in the Leaders Division, ineligible for postseason play. With the fourth selection in the Big 10, the Gator would likely be down to a 7-5 Wisconsin team (who will play for the Big 10 Championship) or three 6-6 teams in Michigan State, Minnesota or Purdue. It is likely that it will be Wisconsin and the Gamecocks should feel pretty confident about the possibility of another 11-win season.
My projection - South Carolina
Music City Bowl
The Music City Bowl will choose the school across town to take part in its bowl, Vanderbilt. The Commodores rebounded from early struggles to finish the season fourth in the SEC East and an 8-4 overall record.
My projection - Vanderbilt
There's only one other available team, Ole Miss. The Rebels became bowl-eligible with a shocking 41-24 beating of rival Mississippi State Saturday. The Rebels finish the season 6-6.
My projection - Ole Miss
No teams eligible for BBVA Compass Bowl or Independence Bowl
25. San Jose State
24. Utah State
23. Oklahoma State
21. Northern Illinois
20. Boise State
17. Kent State
15. Oregon State
13. Florida State
10. South Carolina
9. Texas A&M
6. Kansas State
1. Notre Dame
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