SEC bowl projections after Week 11: Inevitable now official
What everyone has pretty much known for a month, since Florida defeated Georgia, became official on Saturday: The Gators will face Alabama in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 19.
With those 2 plus Texas A&M and Georgia looking good for the New Year’s Day 6 bowl games — unless there are any upsets in the next 2 weeks — we look at the rest of the SEC bowl picture a bit more closely this week.
First, there is no Las Vegas Bowl in 2020. Like most other states, Nevada has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases, and thus the decision, mooted for weeks, was made to cancel the game. This was supposed to be the 1st year of a 6-year deal in which the SEC and Big Ten alternate between the Las Vegas and Duke’s Mayo bowls. (The Duke’s Mayo Bowl in Charlotte is the former Belk Bowl and Meineke Car Car Bowl.)
So the SEC joined every other conference in having 1 of its contracted bowls called off. The Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 have seen multiple bowl tie-ins evaporate over the past several weeks, so the SEC finally had it happen to them, too.
That didn’t last long.
The SEC quickly cobbled together an agreement to send 1 of its teams to the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 31 in Fort Worth, Texas. An SEC team will face a Pac-12 representative at TCU’s Amon G. Carter Stadium. The matchup was supposed to be Big 12 vs. the American Athletic Conference.
Well, the powers that be would not make this move if they didn’t intend to send an SEC team to this game no matter what, right?
So even though SEC results pretty much played out like we thought they would on Saturday, we still had to do some shuffling in our projections. We’re going to hold our noses and put Tennessee — a team headed for a 3-7 finish, and that’s assuming the Vols beat Vanderbilt this weekend — back in the postseason picture.
Remember, the NCAA waived its 6-win requirement for bowl teams for 2020. It’s not particularly edifying to think of 4 or 5 SEC teams with losing records heading to bowls, but that’s what we’re going to have.
[Note: these projections were updated on Dec. 10 after LSU decided to self-impose a one-year bowl ban in 2020, taking the Tigers out of this year’s projections. Mississippi State was added.]
Now let’s look at this week’s projections: