SEC bowl projections, Week 6: How high will Gators fly?
Florida’s victory over Auburn on Saturday not only was a huge day for the Gators program, it shook up the SEC and national bowl picture as well.
Bottom line, we are now projecting the SEC to get four teams into the New Year’s Day 6 bowls.
Why now? Well, we had Auburn pegged behind Alabama, LSU and Georgia, and we still do. We were guessing Auburn and Florida to both finish no better than 9-3.
But with Florida beating Auburn, we are now figuring on four SEC teams to win 10 games, with the Gators finishing (we think) no worse than 10-2.
A 10-2 SEC school would be a pretty solid candidate for one of the six major bowls.
Now, before Gators fans get too excited, we need to mention a few caveats. First, don’t lose to anybody except Georgia or LSU. If those two losses happen, the Gators can still go to a New Year’s Day 6 bowl if everything else goes well.
But there are some external factors that could ruin this scenario:
1. Notre Dame. We now project the Gators to edge out the Fighting Irish for, essentially, the last at-large NYD6 bowl berth. That is predicated on Notre Dame losing once more. If it doesn’t, there is no way that an 11-1 Fighting Irish team, whose only loss is a close one at Georgia, misses the NYD6.
2. The Big Ten. The B1G has four unbeatens: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State and Minne — wait, what? checking on this … yeah, Minnesota is still undefeated. Anyway, UF fans need those teams to start losing. Or at least PSU and Minnesota, because the B1G is extremely likely to get at least two teams into the NYD6, with OSU and Wisconsin the best candidates. So, conceding those two spots, that leads us to perhaps the biggest sticking point in this scenario of a fourth SEC team in the NYD6 …
3. The ACC. Last season, the ACC had only one team in the NYD6, and rightly so. The Orange Bowl was a College Football Playoff semifinal, so it was not obligated to take an ACC team. This year, the Orange Bowl must take the ACC champion, or the No. 2 ACC team if the champion is in the CFP. So unless Clemson falls out of the CFP and into this spot, the ACC will get a second team into the NYD6, no matter how undeserving that team might be. Right now, our guess is Virginia.
The good news for UF is that the ACC’s opponent will be is the best team from the SEC, Big Ten or Notre Dame remaining after the CFP selections and after the Sugar Bowl gets the best SEC non-playoff team. Right now, we project that team to be Florida.
And, of course, if the Gators beat Georgia or LSU, we will have a very different conversation about Florida’s bowl destination.
Now, on to our bowl projections: