SEC bowl projections after Week 4
The Texas A&M loss to Arkansas on Saturday shook up our bowl projections somewhat this week, but not in the way that fans might perhaps anticipate, especially fans in Arkansas.
It seems impossible to believe, but events elsewhere, and that fall of the No. 7 Aggies, led to us projecting 3 SEC teams into the major New Year’s Day 6 bowls rather than the 4 that were there before.
Arkansas fans (perhaps fans of Ole Miss, too) won’t take this well and, honestly, we don’t blame them.
Hear us out.
We’re projecting Oklahoma (still, somehow) and now Oregon into the College Football Playoff, along with SEC top guns Alabama and Georgia. The problem with the Ducks and Sooners being in the Playoff, as far as the NYD6 is concerned, has to do with contractual obligations.
The Sugar Bowl has to match a Big 12 team with an SEC team. With Oklahoma projected into the playoff, the Sugar has to take the second-best Big 12 team. Ditto for the Pac-12 and the Rose Bowl; with Oregon in the CFP, we now have to project a second Pac-12 team into the Rose Bowl. And the ACC, allegedly, is still a Power 5 conference, so its champion has to be invited to the NYD6.
So that’s 3 spots out of the 12 available for major bowls going to teams that otherwise would not belong there. This does not even account for the Group of 5 spot (but frankly, Cincinnati deserves its place in our NYD6 projections way more than the ACC champ, Pac-12 runnerup or Big 12 runnerup).
Any Razorbacks fans wondering why their team isn’t projected to an NYD6 spot while Texas — a team Arkansas throttled a couple of weeks ago — is in one, that’s why. Again, we don’t blame any angry Hogs fans after their team beat both Texas and Texas A&M and has looked so good in doing so.
Arkansas has another chance to move up more in our projections with next week’s game at Georgia and the one after that at Ole Miss. Again, these projections are based on where we think teams will be in December, not where they are at the end of September.
The SEC, once it sends its champion to the NYD6 (and probably the CFP), will send its next best available team to the Citrus Bowl. After that, the league treats the next 6 bowls equally: The Outback, Gator, Liberty, Duke’s Mayo, Texas and Music City bowls. The Birmingham Bowl selects after that group if there are any bowl-eligible SEC teams left.
Here are our latest SEC bowl projections: