SEC bowl projections after Week 9
Did Tennessee’s stunning loss to South Carolina make the SEC East the least relevant division among the Power 5 conferences (considering the Big 12 doesn’t have divisions)?
With its bell cow team now with three conference losses, the East has but one team left with a shot at playing in a New Year’s Six Bowl. That would be 6-1 Florida, which is now the odds-on favorite to win the division despite losing to Tennessee earlier this year.
The remaining schedule for Florida? At Arkansas, South Carolina, at LSU and at Florida State.
But the Gators have gotten better. In our projections, we like them against South Carolina and to split the Arkansas and Florida State games. That’s 8-3. One more win, and they are 9-2 and a shoe-in for a NYE6 (it’s “Eve” this year) game.
Hmm … it’s shaky at best to assume more than two wins against that schedule. And if they don’t, sorry, but the SEC East might be shut out and the league may only have two teams in the New Year’s Six bowls (with Auburn as a possible third SEC West team).
Who wins in that scenario?
Maybe the Independence Bowl as the SEC might have enough bowl-eligible teams to send there (hey, it’s not far from Ole Miss).
But this week’s projections are giving Florida the benefit of the doubt.
- After Auburn knocked off Ole Miss on the road, we bumped them to the Citrus Bowl spot. The Tigers should go 9-3 (assuming a loss to Alabama in the Iron Bowl) and have a more favorable remaining schedule than LSU, which we had in the Citrus last week.
- We bump LSU to the TaxSlayer Bowl. The Tigers still have Alabama, Arkansas, Florida and Texas A&M on the schedule. That’s a combined 26-5 record for LSU’s remaining opponents.
- Welcome back to the bowl projections, South Carolina. After the upset of Tennessee, the Gamecocks have won two straight coming off a bye and have two more games it should win against hapless Missouri at home and against Western Carolina. Win those two and Will Muschamp’s team is at six wins and won’t need heroics against Florida or Clemson to go bowling.
- Get your bowl tickets ready, Kentucky. The Wildcats’ win over Missouri put them at 5-3. With a game against 0-8 FCS team Austin Peay still ahead, the Wildcats should have no problem getting that magic sixth win. A seventh win? That’s tougher, although winning at home against Georgia next week looks very doable.
- Speaking of, how about this scenario: Kentucky beats Georgia and suddenly vulnerable Tennessee and finishes 6-2 in the SEC. Florida loses to Arkansas and LSU. Just like that, you have Kentucky in the SEC Championship Game.
- That team that’s hanging on to its postseason hopes by a thread? That would be Georgia. At 4-4, Kirby Smart’s team is in free fall, and here’s the stretch run: at Kentucky, Auburn, Louisiana-Lafayette and Georgia Tech. If the Bulldogs lose to Kentucky, they could be 5-6 and needing to win against Georgia Tech to be bowl-eligible.
- Don’t sleep on Vanderbilt. The Commodores come off the bye week at 4-4 and will be a favorite against Missouri on Nov. 12. Vandy must find a win against Auburn, Ole Miss or Tennessee to get the six wins, but with the latter two looking increasingly beatable, that could happen.
2016 SEC bowl projections after Week 9 (11 invites)
- College Football Playoff semifinal (Peach Bowl): Alabama vs. Washington
- New Year’s Six (Sugar Bowl): Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma
- New Year’s Six (Orange Bowl): Florida vs. Louisville
- Citrus Bowl: Auburn vs. Nebraska
- Music City Bowl: Arkansas vs. Iowa
- Outback Bowl: Tennessee vs. Penn State
- TaxSlayer Bowl: LSU vs. Miami
- Liberty Bowl: Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech
- Texas Bowl: Kentucky vs. West Virginia
- Belk Bowl: Georgia vs. Virginia Tech
- Birmingham Bowl: South Carolina vs. Memphis
On the outside looking in: Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Missouri