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Post 11 teams, 8 bowls?

Tuesday October 30, 2007

Could eleven SEC teams be bowl-eligible this season? Six teams already have six wins. Florida and Tennessee should join the club soon enough.

That leaves three teams with longer but not impossible odds for six wins:

Arkansas. Currently 5-3.
Remaining games: South Carolina, @ Tennessee, Miss. St., @ LSU

Mississippi State. Currently 5-4.
Remaining games: Alabama, @ Arkansas, Ole Miss

Vanderbilt. Currently 5-3.
Remaining games: @ Florida, Kentucky, @ Tennessee, Wake Forest

Vandy might face the longest odds of any SEC team with postseason hopes. Conference wins over Ole Miss and South Carolina have put them in a position to need just one more upset, but the competition is tough in their remaining four games. Wake Forest should be considered no less an opponent than any of the other three.

Mississippi State is hanging their hopes on the Egg Bowl, but they could cement their postseason fate with an upset of Alabama or Arkansas. The Hogs meanwhile face three quality teams and each of the current division leaders. The MSU game might become a must-win situation to avoid a .500 (or worse) season.

If all of these teams manage six wins, the question becomes who, if anyone, gets left out? The SEC has eight official bowl tie-ins. An at-large spot could almost certainly be found for a ninth team. If it gets up to ten or even eleven bowl-eligible teams, it’s possible that someone like Mississippi State or Vanderbilt could miss out.

There are plenty of snobs who think that there are too many bowl games or that 6-6 teams should be grateful for the crumbs they get. But the significance of even the most minor bowl game to a program like MSU or Vandy cannot be understated. Croom is desperately seeking legitimacy (and another year on the job), and a bowl bid is the next step after two big road upset wins. The drought is even longer for Vanderbilt, and they are the only SEC team without a trip to a bowl in this decade (not to mention the last decade). One even wonders if the SEC will intervene and send a 6-6 Vandy team to a bowl for the first time in 25 years over a stronger program like Arkansas who might be disappointed in a 7-5 season.

While we’re celebrating the parity and the wild SEC season, the league hasn’t done much to live up to its billing nationally. LSU’s win over Va. Tech stands tall, but there’s not much after that. Tennessee lost big to Cal. Miss. St. was toothless against West Virginia. Auburn fell to South Florida and just escaped Kansas State. Bama lost to FSU. Georgia’s win over Oklahoma State was nice but hardly significant. We’ll see another round of big non-conference games soon against mainly ACC opponents, and hopefully the league can show out a little better there before the bowl season.

3 Responses to '11 teams, 8 bowls?'

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  • It’s certainly possible that the SEC could get 2 teams into the BCS this year. If UT and UGA both win out and LSU beats UT in the SECCG, Georgia would certainly get an at-large BCS berth. The other way it could happen is if UT or UGA were to upset a 1-loss LSU team in the SECCG and LSU got the at-large.

    That would be 9 bowl bids.

  • What’s really intriguing is that the Big Ten may have as many as ten bowl eligible (more likely nine, though) teams this year. That’s more teams than bowl tie-ins, too.

  • Add our win over Troy yesterday to the list of impressive SEC OOC wins; that was not a half-bad team, and two other SEC teams have beaten them. You’ve mentioned UT’s loss to Cal and Aub’s to South FL as black marks on our record; but the statistical sample’s too small to make the case that the SEC’s having problems.