Here's a look at this week's SEC Bowl projections from a panel of "experts".
* Apparently NBC's Cary Estes was projecting Auburn to knock off Georgia as the Tigers have disappeared off this list completely.
* Tennessee and Mississippi State are already guaranteed losing seasons. Arkansas and Auburn are both mathematically alive for bowl eligibility, but both teams would need major upsets to go their way.
* I know Alabama fans are upset that they're being slighted - #1 in the country and not predicted to reach the title game - but the simple fact of the matter is that the Gators are the best team in the country right now. Both teams just need to stay focus and avoid pitfalls between now and December 6th.
* Kentucky, Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt are all about equal in the eyes of the 5 pundits listed. I've talked about this before in previous threads, but I don't think the Music City Bowl would take Kentucky for a third straight year unless their hand is forced by circumstance. And I doubt the Wildcats players or fans would be too excited either.
If the Chick-Fil-A Bowl (which chooses teams before the Music City Bowl) has the choice between a 7-5 Ole Miss team and a 7-5 Kentucky team, my guess is that they'd take UK to revitalize the CATlanta atmosphere so prevalent at the SEC Basketball tournament of years past. If Ole Miss knocks of LSU this weekend and finishes 8-4 and 2nd in the West though, the 'Cats may end up back in Nashville.
* Vanderbilt is in an interesting situation as the Music City Bowl is hosted (basically) just across the river from their campus. While the 'Dores certainly won't be picky about a bowl game after a 25 year drought, the coaching staff may prefer to travel to another city to be sure the players get the full bowl experience.
They could theoretically end up in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl with a win over UT this weekend and knocking off Wake Forest on the road next weekend. That would then send UK to Memphis for the Liberty Bowl and Ole Miss to Nashville for the Music City Bowl.
* UPDATED 11/18/08Mandel's picks are in from CNN/SI. Apparently, he thinks the Gamecocks are going to lose next weekend in Clemson, as he projects Ole Miss to take the Outback Bowl bid. While a Gamecock loss is certainly not out of the question, I'm not sure that would land Ole Miss in Tampa.
From the Bowl Tie-In Page on SECSports.com:
The Outback, Chick-fil-A and AT&T Cotton Bowls will work with the conference office to determine picks 3-5. The Cotton Bowl has the first preference of teams from the Western Division and the Outback Bowl has first preference of teams from the Eastern Division. The Cotton or Outback Bowl can select teams outside of its divisional preference, but must not select them before the opposite bowl selects from its divisional preference.In his scenario, the Cotton Bowl selects LSU, which would seem to imply the Tigers beat the Rebels this weekend. The Outback Bowl takes Ole Miss, which they'd be allowed to do since the Cotton Bowl had already taken an SEC West team. To me, it seems that if the Rebels beat LSU and MSU, they'd be more attractive to the Cotton Bowl than LSU would be. If they don't beat LSU, it seems the Gamecocks would be more attractive to the Outback Bowl than the Rebels unless they get blown out at Clemson next week. Neither scenario has the Rebels landing in the Outback Bowl.