The first of November means among other things that conference races are going down to the wire, Gainesville gets a hint of autumn and we all start thinking about just where we might be spending New Years. With the Florida Gators 7-and-1 and ranked fourth in the BCS, the possibilities for Urban Meyer’s team are pretty enticing.
The SEC has eight bowl contracts and already seven conference teams are bowl eligible. South Carolina needs one more win to become the eighth while Kentucky and Vandy have a chance to make it nine, but both of them qualifying is unlikely since they have just four wins each and play each other on November 11th.
BCS At-Large a Strong Possibility
With the SEC having four of the top 13 teams in the BCS rankings; the league is in excellent position to grab one of the four at-large spots that are available. Florida (4), Auburn (6) and Tennessee (11) are in the best position, but Arkansas (13) can’t be completely ruled out. LSU (17) seems like a long shot, but if the Bayou Bengals can win out they could be very attractive at 10-and-2.
Tennessee plays LSU this weekend and the loser of that game is out of the picture, but the winner is in great shape. The SEC Title game loser might be a good pick, especially if the winner gets to play in the BCS Title game. The Sugar Bowl could then see the loser of Florida/Auburn Title game as a great team to match up with Notre Dame for example.
There are four at-large bids for the BCS and five legit possibilities for those opportunities. Here they are in likelihood from this vantage point:
* Michigan/Ohio State loser. With the BCS sending the winner to the title game, the loser will be snapped up by the Rose Bowl
* SEC # 2. The league is almost certain to get another bid if it can avoid any of the top teams getting upset down the stretch. It’s a guarantee if Florida, Auburn and Tennessee win out.
* Notre Dame/Southern Cal winner. This is IF California or Oregon knocks the Trojans out of the Pac Ten title.
* Boise State. If the Broncos get to twelve in the BCS they get an automatic bid. Every other team being mentioned here is rooting for someone in the WAC to knock them off. The best chances for that to happen are 11/11 @ San Jose St. and 11/25 @ Nevada. Boise St is already up to # 14 in the BCS.
* Big East runner up. The loser of Thursday’s Louisville/West Virginia game could stay in the picture if it is able to win out. However if the winner of that game were to lose later, there’s no chance of getting two teams in.
Obviously all of this assumes no significant upsets along the way and that Texas will be the Big 12 champ. Not sure if Texas can get an at-large with two losses, but there’s a chance since the Fiesta Bowl is hosting two games this time around.
Some other thoughts on the bowl picture:
The Capital One Bowl would love to invite a 10-and-2 Arkansas team. It’s been eight years since the Razorbacks visited Orlando. Tennessee and Florida would be more attractive than Auburn or LSU, the last two teams to play in O-Town. Wisconsin is the likely opponent even though the Badgers played there a year ago.
The one thing you can count on is this; there is NO chance of the Gators playing in the Outback Bowl in Tampa. Not after playing there three of the last four seasons.
Remember the pecking order after the BCS:
1. Capital One Bowl (Orlando)
2. AT&T Cotton Bowl (Dallas) — dibs on next SEC West team
3. Outback Bowl (Tampa) ——– dibs on the next SEC East team
4. Chick Fil-a Bowl (Atlanta)
5. AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Memphis)
6. Gaylord Music City Bowl (Nashville)
We’ll update these scenarios weekly for the rest of the month. There will be a lot to review after the bigger games this week (Louisville/West Va., Florida/Vandy, Tennessee/LSU, and Arkansas/South Carolina).