Updating SEC Bowl Scenarios

Last Saturday was not a pleasant one for the bowl folks who are associated with the SEC. The losses by Georgia and Alabama created a clear first tier of five teams for the post-season. That won’t be a problem if the SEC only gets one spot in the BCS, but should a second team be selected, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl (aka: The Peach Bowl) in Atlanta could be looking at a five or six loss team.

Here’s the current top tier of the SEC heading into the weekend: Auburn is 9-and-1 with Florida and Arkansas 8-and-1. LSU and Tennessee are both 7-and-2 and remain very attractive post-season teams.

Four other SEC teams have four losses, but tough games between now and the end of the regular season and multiple SEC Bowl teams with 6-and-6 records is a real possibilities. Here’s a look at each of those squads.

Four Seeking Strong Finishes

Alabama (6-and-4) —– The Crimson Tide’s loss to Mississippi State probably dooms the Tide to one of the bowls in Tennessee unless they can spring an upset in the final two weeks. A seventh win could mean Atlanta instead, but it won’t be easy to get. Alabama travels the Baton Rouge this week before hosting the annual grudge match with Auburn.

Georgia (6-and-4) —– Georgia is in virtually the same boat with two “rivalry” type games to finish up the campaign. After visiting Auburn this week, Mark Richt’s Dawgs will have an extra week to get ready for ACC front-runner Georgia Tech. A seventh win could give them the slot in Atlanta.

South Carolina (5-and-4) —– The Gamecocks still need a win to be eligible and with Middle Tennessee State coming up next week you can pretty much count on that happening. A win in Gainesville or two weeks later at Clemson might improve their prospects. They went to Shreveport last year, so Nashville or Memphis is a smarter bet.

Kentucky (5-and-4) —– I’m as surprised as anyone to see “Big Blue” on this list, but beating both Mississippi schools gave them an opportunity and the upset of Georgia made it a near reality. A win over Vandy this week would be huge with Louisiana-Monroe to follow. The ‘Kats finish at Tennessee; so winning two out of three would leave them at 7-and-5.

BCS At-Large Less Likely

LSU’s winning touchdown with nine seconds to play not only put the Gators into the SEC Championship game; it knocked Tennessee out of consideration for a BCS at-large slot. That in turn makes it less likely the SEC can snag one of the four opening, but not impossible.

The best chance for the SEC to get an extra BCS payday would be for both Auburn and Arkansas to win out. That would leave Auburn, a top six BCS team free for the taking and it’s likely someone would do so. The next-best scenario would involve the Gators and Tigers, both 11-and-1 meeting for the SEC Title. That increases the chances of the winner playing for the national title and the loser going to the Sugar Bowl. Even if the winner didn’t go to the Title game, the loser would be a very attractive at-large pick for the Orange Bowl if they lose the Big East Champ.

Another thing that could also help a second SEC team to get a spot in the BCS would be a San Jose State upset of Boise State this weekend. IF Boise State is out of the picture the most likely teams for the at-large spots would be:

* Michigan/Ohio State loser.

* SEC # 2.

* Notre Dame/Southern Cal winner

* Big East # 2. West Virginia if it is able to win out.

IF the SEC only gets one BCS bid, here’s where I see teams ending up:

* New Orleans Florida/Arkansas winner

* Orlando Florida/Arkansas loser

* Tampa LSU

* Dallas Auburn

* Atlanta Tennessee (and not happy about it)

* Nashville Kentucky

* Memphis Alabama

* Shreveport Georgia

* Fill-in South Carolina (some league won’t fill its deals)

IF the SEC gets two BCS bids but not a spot in the title game

* New Orleans Florida/Arkansas winner

* Miami Auburn

* Orlando Florida/Arkansas loser

* Tampa Tennessee

* Dallas LSU

* Atlanta Alabama (with a 7th win)

* Nashville Georgia

* Memphis Kentucky

* Shreveport South Carolina (not again!)

Obviously an upset or two here or there would shake this up. If Florida, Auburn and Arkansas lose this weekend there will not be a second BCS bid coming. Plus the pecking order for the lower tier teams could end up in virtually any order pending the upcoming games.

Let’s go play!