Two SEC teams are probably going to the BCS. It's happened seven years in a row now. The conference's champion has an excellent chance at the national championship, and its second most desirable team should land in the Sugar Bowl, a traditional conference tie. These are the things we know.
But which SEC team? The entire East is in disarray, with Georgia banged up, Florida still lacking offense, Missouri down its quarterback, and South Carolina only now teasing its full potential. Texas A&M still doesn't have much of a defense.
Which leaves LSU, and once you look again, that's not bad at all. The Tigers could still finish with just two losses, to Alabama and a healthy Georgia, both on the road. (Of course, a win over Alabama on November 9 is still on the table.) Should the Aggies beat everyone else in their way except LSU and also reach 10-2, Johnny Manziel's last college game could make for a tempting Sugar pick, but I have more confidence in the Tigers right now.
So how about a rematch of one of last year's best bowl games, this time with even bigger stakes?
|Bowl||Matchup (Not always based on standings)||Team||Team|
|1/6/2014||BCS National Championship (Pasadena)||BCS 1 vs. BCS 2||Alabama, 13-0||Oregon, 13-0|
|1/3/2014||Orange (Miami)||ACC 1 vs. At-large 1||Florida State, 12-1||Louisville, 12-0*|
|1/2/2014||Sugar (New Orleans)||SEC 1 vs. At-large 2||LSU, 10-2****||Clemson, 10-2|
|1/1/2014||Rose (Pasadena)||Pac-12 1 vs. Big Ten 1 (At-large 3)||Ohio State, 13-0||Stanford, 10-2|
|1/1/2014||Fiesta (Glendale, AZ)||Big 12 1 vs. At-large 4||Baylor, 11-1||Northern Illinois, 13-0*****|
|1/5/2014||GoDaddy (Mobile, AL)||MAC 2 vs. Sun Belt 2||Ball State||Western Kentucky|
|1/4/2014||BBVA Compass (B'ham)||SEC 9 vs. AAC 5||Texas State**||Cincinnati|
|1/3/2014||Cotton (Arlington)||Big 12 2 vs. SEC 3||Oklahoma||South Carolina|
|1/1/2014||Capital One (Orlando)||Big Ten 2 vs. SEC 2||Michigan State||Texas A&M***|
|1/1/2014||Gator (Jacksonville)||Big Ten 4 vs. SEC 6||Nebraska||Missouri|
|1/1/2014||Heart of Dallas||Big Ten 7 vs. Big 12 8||Iowa||Notre Dame**|
|1/1/2014||Outback (Tampa)||Big Ten 3 vs. SEC 4||Wisconsin||Florida|
|12/31/2013||Chick-fil-A (Atlanta)||ACC 2 vs. SEC 5||Virginia Tech||Georgia|
|12/31/2013||Independence (Shreveport)||SEC 10 vs. ACC 7||Arizona**||Georgia Tech|
|12/31/2013||Liberty (Memphis)||C-USA 1 vs. SEC 8||Marshall||Ole Miss|
|12/31/2013||Sun (El Paso)||ACC 4 vs. Pac-12 4||Maryland||Washington|
|12/30/2013||Alamo (San Antonio)||Big 12 3 vs. Pac-12 2||Oklahoma State||UCLA|
|12/30/2013||Armed Forces (Ft. Worth)||MWC 3 vs. C-USA 3/Navy||Wyoming||Navy|
|12/30/2013||Holiday (San Diego)||Pac-12 3 vs. Big 12 5||Arizona State||Texas Tech|
|12/30/2013||Music City (Nashville)||ACC 6 vs. SEC 7||Boston College||Auburn|
|12/28/2013||Belk (Charlotte)||AAC 3 vs. ACC 5||Houston||Pitt|
|12/28/2013||Buffalo Wild Wings (PHX)||Big 12 4 vs. Big Ten 5||Texas||Northwestern|
|12/28/2013||Pinstripe (New York)||Big 12 7 vs. AAC 4||Buffalo**||Rutgers|
|12/28/2013||Russell Athletic (Orlando)||AAC 2 vs. ACC 3||UCF||Miami|
|12/27/2013||Kraft (San Francisco)||Pac-12 6 vs. BYU/ACC 9||USC||BYU|
|12/27/2013||Military (Annapolis)||ACC 8 vs. C-USA 5||Toledo**||Rice|
|12/27/2013||Texas (Houston)||Big 12 6 vs. Big Ten 6||TCU||Michigan|
|12/26/2013||Little Caesars (Detroit)||MAC 1 vs. Big Ten 8||Bowling Green||Indiana|
|12/26/2013||Poinsettia (San Diego)||MWC 2 vs. Army||Boise State||Middle Tennessee**|
|12/24/2013||Hawaii||MWC 5 vs. C-USA 2||San Diego State||East Carolina|
|12/23/2013||Beef O'Brady's (St. Pete.)||AAC 6 vs. C-USA 4||Arkansas State**||North Texas|
|12/21/2013||Idaho Potato (Boise)||MAC 3 vs. MWC 6||Ohio||Troy**|
|12/21/2013||Las Vegas||MWC 1 vs. Pac-12 5||Fresno State||Utah|
|12/21/2013||New Mexico (Albuquerque)||MWC 4 vs. Pac-12 7||Utah State||Oregon State|
|12/21/2013||New Orleans||Sun Belt 1 vs. C-USA 6||Louisiana-Lafayette||Tulane|
* The American champion isn't technically an at-large, but for bowl-selection purposes, it's basically an AQ at-large.
** Filling in for another conference that couldn't fill all its slots.
*** Edit: Strange seeing a West team in Florida and an East team in the Cotton? After going back and forth on this: nobody's passing up Johnny Manziel's last game, no matter the geography.
**** To answer one frequent question: basically, I see Florida and South Carolina beating everyone left on their schedules -- except one will lose to the other, and the other will lose the SEC title game. If you think a two-loss South Carolina makes for a better Sugar pick than a two-loss LSU, you might be right! A two-loss Texas A&M is sounding like a better and better Sugar pick to me, actually.
***** Regarding the high number of undefeated teams: I know. It's a lot. There have been this many before, though. Five unbeaten teams entered bowl season in 2009. All five have obvious potential losses remaining.
Alabama and Oregon continue to look more and more like national title teams, and we could be about to get the game that's been teased for something like four years now.
Assuming Alabama's still ranked No. 1, that would give the Sugar the next pick. We're putting LSU there for now.
The Rose would next get its pick to pair with Big Ten champion Ohio State*, and while Utah just knocked luster off of Stanford, the Cardinal could still finish with only losses on the road to the Utes and against No. 2 Oregon. Plus, the Rose Bowl is likely hoping for a traditional Big Ten vs. Pac-12 matchup as it celebrates its 100th anniversary. Can't go and bring in a Big 12 team and call it traditional.
* But I'm really, really tempted to have Michigan State beating Ohio State in the Big Ten title game. Maybe next week. What do you think about that?
The Orange is up next, and would have its choice of Louisville, Northern Illinois (if the Huskies go unbeaten, they're back, since they're likely already within striking distance of that No. 12 BCS spot they'll need*), or another at-large. The Cardinals will boast potential No. 1 NFL Draft pick Teddy Bridgewater and a decent fanbase, plus the Orange (which will essentially be owned by the ACC moving forward) could showcase two 2014 ACC teams. Since it won't likely go for a rematch game, and only two teams per conference can make the BCS, there aren't many other options unless a Big Ten team like Wisconsin or Michigan State runs the table or someone like Oklahoma can reach 10 or 11 wins.
* Also, I have fellow undefeated mid-major Fresno State losing at Wyoming.
Which means the Sugar's either getting Louisville or an at-large. In addition to those potential at-large teams mentioned above, Clemson has virtually already locked up at least 10 wins. Close losses to Florida State and South Carolina would still mean a successful season. The Tigers are the best bet. And last year's LSU-Clemson Chick-fil-A Bowl was awesome.
That leaves the Fiesta with a ratings and attendance dud, but still a pretty good game. If Baylor wins the Big 12 and NIU finishes in the top 14, this is the Fiesta Bowl.
Since last time, I've swapped Florida State and Clemson, since the Noles have looked like the less-beatable team.
Among the other changes, LSU's up, USC's no longer a pungent dead fish, Texas is back in, Boston College is storming up the ACC ranks, Iowa joins us, Indiana's back, wounded Georgia tumbles from the Sugar, Utah State plummets after losing quarterback Chuckie Keeton for the year, and Oklahoma's out of the BCS for now -- until it remembers how to use Blake Bell, at least.
What do we think?