Usually, we bring you our Monday Hot List rankings with a helping of news and notes on each squad. This week we took a bit more time so we could bring you not only our 1 through 12 rankings of the SEC’s best teams… but also the bowl prospects and projections for each squad.
MrSEC.com Hot List Rankings
1. Auburn Bowl Possibilities:
a) BCS Championship Game (Glendale, AZ) vs Oregon, TCU or Boise State — if they remain undefeated (and untouched by the NCAA/SEC)
b) Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA) vs TCU or Ohio State — if they lose to Alabama but defeat South Carolina
c) Orange Bowl (Miami, FL) vs Virginia Tech — if they beat Alabama but lose to South Carolina
d) Cotton Bowl (Orlando, FL) vs Michigan State — if they lose to Alabama and South Carolina
e) At Home — if the NCAA or SEC find enough evidence to rule Cam Newton ineligible and force forfeits
MrSEC Prediction: BCS Championship Game vs Oregon
Why: The Tigers’ defense is not championship caliber, but no one to date has been able to match Cam Newton point for point. If Alabama or South Carolina play perfectly on offense, Auburn can be had. But they have to play perfectly.
2. LSU Bowl Possibilities:
a) BCS Championship Game (Glendale, AZ) vs Oregon, TCU or Boise State – if a whole lot of breaks go the Tigers’ way
b) Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA) vs TCU — if they beat Arkansas and Auburn reaches the BCS title game… or if they beat Arkansas and South Carolina after Auburn is forced to forfeit/vacate wins
c) Cotton Bowl (Arlington, TX) vs Nebraska, Oklahoma State or Oklahoma — if they beat Arkansas but fail to earn a BCS bid
d) Outback Bowl (Tampa, FL) vs Iowa — if they lose to Arkansas
MrSEC.com Prediction: Sugar Bowl vs TCU
Why: I still think Auburn reaches the BCS title game (barring NCAA involvement) and a 1-loss SEC team would be very hard for the Sugar Bowl to turn down. If not, LSU would be a good draw for the Cotton Bowl (possibly against former D-coordinator Bo Pelini). And the Tigers have not played in Tampa since 1989. Lots of options.
3. Alabama Bowl Possibilities:
a) Capital One Bowl (Orlando, FL) vs Michigan State — if they beat Auburn or lose to Auburn
MrSEC.com Prediction: Capital One Bowl vs Michigan State
Why: It would be tough for a two-loss Bama squad to leapfrog some one-loss teams for a BCS slot. Also, the Tide hasn’t been to Orlando since 1995 and the chance to match Nick Saban against his former employer would make for solid television ratings. This is the closest thing to a lock on the SEC board.
4. Arkansas Bowl Possibilities:
a) Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA) vs TCU — if they beat LSU and Auburn reaches the BCS Championship Game
b) Cotton Bowl (Arlington, TX) vs Nebraska, Oklahoma State or Oklahoma — if they beat LSU or lose to LSU
c) Outback Bowl (Tampa, FL) vs Iowa — if they lose to LSU
MrSEC.com Prediction: Outback Bowl vs Iowa
Why: Arkansas is good enough to upset LSU on Saturday, but who would bet against Les Miles at this point? The Outback Bowl always seems to make a controversial selection and I believe they’ll go with a West Division team once again. Arkansas has never played in the Tampa bowl. More reasons for this pick below…
5. South Carolina Bowl Possibilities:
a) Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA) vs TCU or Ohio State — if they beat Auburn in the SEC Championship Game
b) Outback Bowl (Tampa, FL) vs Iowa — if they lose to Auburn and/or Clemson
c) Cotton Bowl (Arlington, TX) vs Nebraska, Oklahoma State or Oklahoma — if they lose to Auburn and/or Clemson
MrSEC.com Prediction: Cotton Bowl vs Oklahoma
Why: South Carolina was creamed by Iowa in Tampa two years ago. They have been to the Outback Bowl three times since 2001 as a matter of fact. But Carolina has never played in the Cotton Bowl. It makes sense for the Outback and Cotton to flip-flop their East-West picks this year. Especially if former Steve Spurrier assistant Bob Stoops can lead Oklahoma into this game. (If Nebraska is available, expect the Huskers to get the nod as they’ll be out of the Cotton Bowl’s pool when they move to the Big Ten next year.)
6. Mississippi State Bowl Possibilities:
a) Chick-fil-A Bowl (Atlanta, GA) vs Florida State or NC State — if they beat Ole Miss… possibly if they lose to Ole Miss
b) Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, FL) vs Penn State — if they beat Ole Miss… possibly if they lose to Ole Miss
c) Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN) vs Maryland, North Carolina, Miami, or Georgia Tech — if they lose to Ole Miss
d) Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN) vs UCF or SMU — if they lose to Ole Miss and a ton of breaks go against them (like Florida to the Chick-fil-A, Kentucky to the Gator and Tennessee to the Music City).
MrSEC.com Prediction: Gator Bowl vs Penn State
Why: If the Chick-fil-A folks can match Florida with either Miami or Florida State (in a rematch of the season finale), it’s possible they’ll take that guaranteed TV and crowd draw. That would leave MSU to pack their cowbells and head to a Florida bowl for the first time since the Bulldogs knocked off the Georgetown Hoyas in the 1940 Orange Bowl.
7. Florida Bowl Possibilities:
a) Chick-fil-A Bowl (Atlanta, GA) vs Miami or Florida State — if they win or lose to FSU this weekend
b) Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, FL) vs Penn State — if they win or lose to FSU this weekend
MrSEC.com Prediction: Chick-fil-A Bowl vs Miami
Why: It all depends on the availability of Miami or Florida State. Florida-Miami — even in a down year — would be a solid TV draw and would lure Gator and Cane fans to Atlanta. A rematch with FSU would also bring in fans of both schools. The winner of Saturday’s game would grumble and the loser would rejoice at a second chance. In the end, mutual hate would draw both fanbases to the Georgia Dome.
8. Georgia Bowl Possibilities:
a) Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN) vs Maryland, North Carolina, Miami or Georgia Tech — if they beat Georgia Tech and become bowl eligible
b) Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN) vs UCF or SMU — if they beat Georgia Tech
MrSEC.com Prediction: Liberty Bowl vs UCF
Why: The Bulldogs should dispatch Georgia Tech, but if Tennessee beats Kentucky (more on that below), the Dawgs could fall past the Vols in the bowl selection process. Liberty Bowl officials are already eyeing the Bulldogs who haven’t played in the Memphis game since topping Arkansas — then of the Southwest Conference — back in 1987. If the Dawgs reach Memphis, they’ll likely face former Georgia Tech coach George O’Leary and Central Florida.
9. Kentucky Bowl Possibilities:
a) Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, FL) vs Penn State — if they beat Tennessee
b) Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN) vs Maryland, North Carolina, Miami or Georgia Tech — if they beat Tennessee or lose to Tennessee
c) Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN) vs UCF or SMU — if they lose to Tennessee
d) BBVA Compass Bowl (Birmingham, AL) vs Syracuse, South Florida or Louisville — if they lose to Tennessee
e) A Non-SEC Tie-In Bowl — if they lose to Tennessee, Georgia beats Georgia Tech (making 10 league teams bowl eligible) and the SEC only lands one squad in the BCS. The league would then have to campaign to find UK a spot in another bowl.
MrSEC.com Prediction: BBVA Compass Bowl vs South Florida
Why: After 25 years of losing to Tennessee, I’ll believe the Cats can beat the Vols when I see it. Kentucky’s last five bowl appearances have been in Nashville and Memphis so expect them to drop down to the newly named BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham. If that’s the case, a rematch with Louisville might force fans of both schools to attend the game due totally to hate. More likely, UK will face Skip Holtz… who they beat in the 2008 Liberty Bowl when he was with East Carolina. However, if UK does beat UT, it might be hard for the Gator Bowl to pass on a Kentucky fanbase that travels well.
10. Tennessee Bowl Possibilities:
a) Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN) vs Maryland, North Carolina, Miami or Georgia Tech — if they beat Kentucky to become bowl eligible
b) Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN) vs UCF or SMU — if they beat Kentucky
MrSEC.com Prediction: Music City Bowl vs North Carolina
Why: If UT becomes bowl eligible, it’s hard to imagine a Tennessee-based bowl passing on them. Plus, the Vols would be finishing with more momentum — four straight wins — than Georgia. Music City Bowl officials also know that they would get fan turnout and solid media coverage with a contentious UT-UNC matchup. (Unless, of course, Tennessee tried to buy out the Tar Heels in favor of Buffalo.)
11. Ole Miss
65 teams are now bowl eligible and 70 are needed. In other words, it’s unlikely a 5-7 team will be extended a bowl invitation this year. That means Saturday’s Egg Bowl likely is Ole Miss’ bowl game this season.
There’ll be no bowl for the Commodores this year.