SEC Bowl Projections after Week 11: Vols make statement, SEC still good for 4?
Tennessee looks less like a team praying to finish 6-6 and sneaking into a bowl game, and more like a team ready to grab a postseason nod by the throat.
That’s the impression the Vols left after beating Kentucky on Saturday. The result shuffled our projections a bit, with Tennessee now projected for the Outback Bowl. If Tennessee beats Missouri and Vanderbilt over the next two weeks, the Vols will own a 4-game winning streak and become more appealing both as a hot team and as a program with a reputation for traveling well and selling tickets. Plus the Outback generally chooses an SEC East team — this is not a hard and fast rule because Auburn and LSU have gone to Tampa on New Year’s Day in recent years. But we’re going with the usual trend.
After their loss, the Wildcats lost their spot in the major bowl lineup, and were replaced by Florida.
I still think the SEC will get four teams in the New Year’s Day 6 lineup. For now.
If Florida finishes 9-3 and on a 3-game winning streak (after easy wins against Idaho and a nosediving Florida State), I think the Gators’ brand name will carry them into the top six bowls.
Two possible things for Gators fans to watch for before they start packing their bags.
If Washington State loses to Washington, as I predict, and finishes 10-2 without going to the Pac-12 title game, the Cougars would have a better record than Florida. I still think UF’s clout wins out over Wazzu’s high-powered offense for a major bowl bid, but it’s an interesting scenario.
The other major player is Syracuse. Yes, really. The Orange are very quietly 8-2 and ranked 13th by the College Football Playoff committee. Syracuse’s only losses are to Clemson in the final minute and Pitt in overtime. Up next? Unbeaten Notre Dame, then ranked Boston College. Win both and Syracuse punches its ticket to a major bowl, likely sending Florida to the Citrus Bowl.
Two weekly reminders: All bowls after the Citrus are considered equal in the SEC’s eyes (though some trips are more appealing than others, we get that) and this is a prediction of where teams will be after Dec. 1, not where they are now.
On to the new SEC bowl projections:
New Orleans, LA