Kevin C. Cox
The BCS's selection rules are long and worded like legalese. Here are the ones you need to know about for this year.
The BCS selection rules, at nearly 1500 words, are really long and boring to read. Believe me; I've gone through them many times over the years. To save you the hassle, here are the ones that apply towards the SEC this year.
Note: when you're done here, there's one more to be aware of.
No more than two teams from a conference may be selected, regardless of whether they are automatic qualifiers or at-large selections, unless two non-champions from the same conference are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the final BCS Standings.
So even though the SEC has six teams in the top 10, only two of them can go to big money games with Notre Dame sitting at No. 1.
If ... an at-large team from a conference with an annual automatic berth for its champion is ranked No. 3 in the final BCS Standings, that team will become an automatic qualifier, provided that no at-large team from the same conference qualifies for the national championship game.
How this rule applies this season is that Florida will be guaranteed a spot in the BCS if it finishes third in the standings. As it's comfortably in fourth right now with no chance of Oregon jumping it, UF is basically locked into the BCS at this point. The only thing that could keep the Gators out is if the SEC Championship Game loser finishes ahead of them, but it's unlikely given the computers' love of Florida and the historical patterns of how pollsters vote (i.e. they drop teams that lose and in general put teams in order of how many losses they have).
If a bowl loses a host team to the NCG, then such bowl shall select a replacement team from among the automatic-qualifying teams and the at-large teams before any other selections are made.
Because the Sugar Bowl will be losing the SEC champ to the National Championship Game (NCG), it will get to pick a replacement first before any other bowl gets a shot to. All of the bowls that lose teams to the NCG pick up teams from the same conference if possible, so whichever SEC team finishes No. 3 will be headed to New Orleans.
The champion of Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference, or the Western Athletic Conference will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game if either:
A. Such team is ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS Standings, or,
B. Such team is ranked in the top 16 of the final BCS Standings and its ranking in the final BCS Standings is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls.
At present, Kent State is No. 17 in the BCS standings. No. 16 is UCLA, which figures to lose to Stanford again this weekend in the Pac-12 Championship Game. If Kent State wins the MAC and UCLA loses as expected, it's possible that the Golden Flashes will finish at the magic No. 16. As they'd be ahead of the Big East champion, they'd get an automatic bid.
This matters for who Florida or the SECCG loser will play in the Sugar Bowl. The reason is because:
After [contracted bids are given out and the bowl(s) that lost NCG participants select replacements], any bowl with an unfilled slot shall select a team from the automatic qualifiers and/or at-large teams in the following order:
January 2013 games: Fiesta, Sugar, Orange
The Fiesta Bowl gets first pick and will select Oregon. It hasn't been announced yet, of course, but there's no way it doesn't take Oregon.
The Sugar Bowl goes next. If Kent State doesn't get into the BCS, the Sugar will almost certainly pick Oklahoma if the Sooners beat TCU. If they don't, then it's likely to be Clemson. However if KSU does get a BCS bid, the Sugar would probably pick the Big East champ instead. That team will be the winner of the Louisville-Rutgers game this coming weekend.
For the SEC team in the Sugar to get anyone else would require some crazy scenarios going down. Those four are by far the best bets.