SEC bowl projections, Week 11: We know LSU is in CFP; what about Bama?
Whether LSU was No. 1 in the initial College Football Bowl rankings was irrelevant, as we figured.
After that victory at Alabama on Saturday, the Tigers are pretty likely to snatch the top spot from Ohio State when this week’s rankings come out. In any event, LSU just needs to take care of business to book its spot in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.
But what about Alabama?
Will the Crimson Tide land in the CFP if it wins out? How far will Bama fall this week? Remember, this is a Crimson Tide team with no wins over current Top-25 teams, a hobbled star quarterback and a defense that was suspect even before LSU lit it up for 46 points on Saturday.
We think Alabama might be OK. Maybe. Keeping that LSU game close after being blitzed in the first half will help the Crimson Tide’s case.
It also helped that No. 4 Penn State lost to Minnesota. It would help more if Baylor lost, if Oklahoma lost again and if — yes, we have to account for this now — Minnesota loses even before the Golden Gophers reach their likely destination of the Big Ten Championship Game.
It would also help if Clemson lost. But come on, have y’all seen the rest of the ACC? Next.
Finally, and perhaps most of all, it would help if either Oregon or Utah lost, then the two-loss team beat the one-loss team in the Pac-12 title game. Oh yeah, the Pac-12. You forgot about them, didn’t you? Well, turns out the West Coast is relevant after all, if the first CFP rankings are anything to go by. But if Bama can crush Auburn — the only team to beat Oregon — that would bolster the case for Nick Saban’s crew immensely.
We’ll have more on this topic in Monday’s CFP story but, for now, just know that we still have Bama projected to finish in the top four, grab a CFP semifinal berth and get a postseason rematch with LSU. Just like 2011.
That brings up our weekly reminder that these projections are about where we think teams will wind up in December, not where they are now.
We say that again because it’s time for our weekly look at the middle of the SEC pack and their bowl eligibility chances. We’re still omitting Missouri because the NCAA does not seem inclined to reverse the bowl ban on the Tigers.
We are again including our completely unscientific chances of each team making a bowl.
Tennessee (5-5 overall, 3-3 SEC): The Vols rallied to defeat Kentucky, continuing a remarkable in-season surge. Now the Vols need to either win at Missouri (the Tigers are 5-0 at home but trending the wrong way) or Vanderbilt. The Commodores won’t beat the Vols this time. Chances of bowling: 85%
Kentucky (4-5, 2-5): UK led Tennessee 13-0 after two possessions on Saturday but never scored again. We still say the Wildcats will beat UT Martin and Vanderbilt, but we’re less certain. And if UK slips and needs to beat Louisville in the finale? Who knows? Chances of bowling: 50%
Mississippi State (4-5, 2-4): After a week off, nothing changed here. This week’s Alabama game could get ugly, then FCS program Abilene Christian will provide a fifth win for the Bulldogs. We’re repeating ourselves, but it will all come down to the Egg Bowl vs. Ole Miss. Chances of bowling: 50%
Ole Miss (4-6, 2-4): A win over a putrid New Mexico State didn’t change anything any more than MSU’s bye did. The Rebels have to win twice, and that includes this week’s date with LSU. We don’t see an upset happening. Chances of bowling: 10%
South Carolina (4-6, 3-4): Last week, we told the Gamecocks not to sleep on Appalachian State. Oops. What’s more damning, that a Sun Belt team beat an SEC team on the road again, or that this one is not really even an upset? Either way, South Carolina’s bowl hopes are toast. Chances of bowling: 2%
Now, on to our bowl projections: