Vanderbilt Bowl Outlook

They had to wait until the last game of the season but Vanderbilt finally notched win number six making them bowl eligible for the second time in four years. Four years ago Vanderbilt went to the other side of town to play its bowl game. In 2011 Vandy may travel to the other side of the state to compete in a bowl. Look inside to get full details of possible bowl scenarios for Vanderbilt.

The SEC Bowl Skinny

The SEC will have nine bowl eligible teams with Kentucky, Tennessee and Ole Miss being left out of the picture because of losing records. With Tennessee being knocked out of bowl consideration after a surprising loss to Kentucky, the Liberty Bowl and Music City Bowl seem to be the top potential bowl possibilities for the 'Dores. The SEC will not be able to field a team for the BBVA Compass Bowl (Birmingham) due to not having 10 bowl eligible teams.

Another factor in Vanderbilt's bowl outlook is the SEC BCS situation. Alabama and LSU are both virtually locked in for BCS games and probably will meet for a rematch in the National Championship game in New Orleans. However, a Georgia upset in the SEC Championship game on Saturday could mean the further moving up of the SEC bowl pecking order. If such an upset occurs Georgia would get an automatic bid to the Sugar Bowl. A Georgia upset would also remove a potential SEC team from the Liberty Bowl picture.

Potential Vanderbilt Bowl Destinations

Autozone Liberty Bowl Location: Memphis, Tenn.
Date/Time: December 31, 2:30 p.m. CT
Venue: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (61,008)
Payout: $1,700,000
Percent chance of Vanderbilt attending: 70

Many Vanderbilt fans like the idea of playing a bowl game just 200 miles away in Memphis. It makes sense for Vandy to play in the River City because of its easy driving distance from Nashville while also presenting lots of fun attractions for visiting Commodore supporters. It would also pit the 'Dores or another SEC representative against a top Conference USA team.

While some Vanderbilt fans like the thought of playing in Memphis, certain Liberty Bowl officials are also receptive to the idea of the 'Dores playing in their bowl. Liberty Bowl executive director Steve Ehrhart told the Commercial Appeal how impressed he's been with the Commodores this season.

"Jordan Rodgers has emerged as one of the SEC's better quarterbacks and, of course, we'd love having our Memphis kids like Chris Marve and DeAndre Jones in our game." Ehrhart said, "We've been trying to get Vanderbilt in our game for about 40 years."

If Vanderbilt does play in the Liberty Bowl it's not certain who their opponent will be. Houston (12-0, 8-0) will face off with Southern Miss (10-2, 6-2) on December 3rd in the Conference USA Championship game. A Houston victory would likely send the Cougars to BCS Bowl and in turn send Southern Miss to the Liberty Bowl. If Southern Miss is able to upset the Cougars then Houston would be the top choice for the Conference USA representative in the Liberty Bowl.

Excluding a scenario with an upset of Houston next week, Southern Miss will likely be the opponent of an SEC team. It is believed that a Southern Miss - Mississippi matchup would be avoided to widen the television viewership in a state other than Mississippi.

There is also the potential for a team from the Big East to take part in the Liberty Bowl against a C-USA or SEC opponent. A stipulation in the SEC-Liberty tie in agreement concerns years in which the conference does not provide a team to the BBVA Compass Bowl. In that case the SEC team can decide to play against a Big East team instead of a C-USA team.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Location: Nashville, Tenn.
Date/Time: December 30, 5:40 p.m. CT
Venue: LP Field (68,798)
Payout: $1,837,500
Percent chance of Vanderbilt attending: 20

The Music City Bowl gets to choose before the Liberty for SEC schools. For ACC schools the Belk Bowl picks before the Music City at the sixth choice. The ACC picture is still very muddied with three teams tied at 8-4 and two at 7-5. NC State or Virginia may end up the ACC opponent in Nashville.

In 2008 local downtown businesses complained that sells were down over previous bowl years after Vanderbilt beat Boston College 16-14. It's true that most local Commodore fans had no need for hotel rooms or more than one meal while they attended their bowl. The lure of a well traveling Mississippi State fan base may be too much for the Music City Bowl to resist. The Bulldogs traveled well to the Gator Bowl last year, selling their original allotment of 15,000 tickets before requesting an additional 2,000 tickets to sell. Mississippi State has never played in the Music City Bowl which may make the Bulldogs lean more towards Nashville than Memphis

Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl Location: Jacksonville, Fla.
Date/Time: January 2, 12:00 p.m. CT
Venue: EverBank Field (76,000)
Payout: $2,700,000
Percent chance of Vanderbilt attending: 5

It would take a major BCS shakeup (a Georgia win over LSU) for the 'Dores to be considered for this bowl. Right now Florida is the obvious choice as Jacksonville is just a short drive (80 miles) from Gainesville. The Gator fans will make sure the event is sold out. Recently the Orlando Sentinel reported that Gators are a "lock" for the Gator Bowl after their recent loss to Florida State.

The Commodore program has a solid history in the Gator Bowl. After finishing its regular season 7-3 in 1955, Vanderbilt played in Jacksonville and came away with a 25-13 win over heavily favored Auburn.

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