Johnny Football could be playing in a BCS game. - Ronald Martinez
With SEC teams filling slots 4-9 in this week's BCS standings, the Bowl picture for the league is wonderfully muddled.
Bowl projections usually gain some teeth by mid-November. With two weeks left in the regular season, the SEC usually has an established pecking order that can be used to start slotting teams. In the last several years, at least one SEC team usually controlled its own destiny in the road to the BCS Championship game by this time.
The Texas A&M Aggie's rousing win over the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday has thrown everything out of kilter. Not only does the SEC need help to get a team into the Championship, but the league now has an unbelievable six teams in the BCS top ten. Slots 4-9 in the rankings are filled by Alabama (9-1), the Georgia Bulldogs (9-1), Florida Gators (9-1), LSU Tigers (8-2). South Carolina Gamecocks (8-2) and A&M (8-2), respectively. This makes it very hard to predict who will wind up where come bowl season.
While UGa and the Tide still need help to sneak into the BCS title game, both are still very much alive. Undefeated Oregon, Kansas St. and Notre Dame sit atop the standings, and each has at potential stumbling blocks left. Noted SEC blogger and Kentucky fan baiter Clay Travis has even suggested that a one loss SEC team could leapfrog an undefeated Fighting Irish team by the end of the season, a point that will likely be mooted when the Irish lose to the USC Trojans by double digits on November 24th.
With the exception of Florida, who travels to Tallahassee to take on the Florida St. Seminoles in two weeks, the other top 10 SEC teams should win out in the regular season. That pits Georgia (who has already clinched the East) against Alabama (who will beat Auburn by 40 next week) in the SEC title game in Atlanta on December 1. The winner of that game with have to hope that 2 out of the current top 3 have lost (including Oregon's Pac-12 title game) by then.
For this week's projections, I am going to assume that Oregon and Kansas St. win out, and there is no SEC team in the National Championship. Remember, only 2 SEC teams go to BCS bowls regardless.
Alabama (Assuming no SEC team in NC, league winner must go here. If Georgia wins SEC Championship, it would go here)
Texas A&M (The other BCS bowls can pick any SEC team in the top 14, it does not have to be the next best team. Johnny Manziel could very well win the Heisman. Pick also makes sense geographically)
Florida (Must take team with the next best overall record or within one game of that record. LSU and Georgia are other possibilities. This makes the most sense.)
LSU (This is a natural unless Texas A&M is still on the board.)
Georgia (South Carolina will be in consideration. I expect the Gamecocks to lost to Clemson and finish 9-3. With the loss of Lattimore, Georgia becomes moderately more attractive option.)
Mississippi St. Bulldogs (This one is interesting. With no clear cut choice geographically, I'll opt for the league's next best team.)
Missouri Tigers (The Tigers can gain bowl eligibility with a win over Syracuse this weekend. Vandy is the SEC's only other likely bowl team. They tend to draw the short end of the stick at bowl time and played here last year. Ole Miss and Tennessee would also get looks here if either can get to six wins.)
MUSIC CITY BOWL
Vandy. (Ole Miss and Tennessee could still gain bowl eligibility, but I do not project either doing so. This leaves the BBVA Compass and Independence Bowls without SEC participants. If Vandy doesn't want to suffer an further unfair freefall down the bowl rungs, it needs to TCOB against UT this Saturday.)