For most teams, the dream of an SEC title is already dead (if it was alive to begin with), and it's time to start pondering postseason destinations. It's never easy to figure out exactly what's going on in the minds of the men in the colored blazers -- in fact, it's one of the more confounding things I try to do as a sports blogger -- but let's give it a whirl anyways.
A lot of this is pure speculation on my part, based on a reading of which games I think are likely to be won by which teams in the SEC and a variety of other conferences. Take it with a grain of salt. And please don't base any travel plans on this or any other set of bowl projections -- because the bowls will always surprise you in the end.
BCS National Championship Game:
Sugar Bowl: vs.
Go here if you need the explanation of these games. Nothing much I can add to that.
Capital One Bowl: Missouri Tigers vs. Michigan St. Spartans
Outback Bowl: South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Wisconsin Badgers
Cotton Bowl: Texas A&M Aggies vs. Oklahoma St. Cowboys
Chick-fil-A Bowl: LSU Tigers vs. Miami Hurricanes
Gator Bowl: Georgia Bulldogs vs. Michigan Wolverines
Music City Bowl: Mississippi Rebels vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Liberty Bowl: Vanderbilt Commodores vs. East Carolina Pirates
BBVA Compass Bowl: Mississippi St. Bulldogs vs. Houston Cougars
Here's the rationale: I don't think that the Capital One is going to let Missouri go by; it's a new fan base that could be excited enough (particularly if there's a close game against Alabama) to make for decent ticket sales. Plus, playing Michigan State would be just like joining the B1G, which we all know is what Missouri really wants to do. (I kid.)
A lot of people seem to think that Wisconsin could get the final slot in the BCS, and it's not completely insane with the Stanford loss to Southern Cal. But I still think the Cardinal will be the most attractive match for the Orange Bowl at this point, and Wisconsin tumbles down to the Outback Bowl. South Carolina gets this spot because, while the Outback would probably like Texas A&M more, it would have to wait to pick any team from the SEC West after the Cotton Bowl goes, at which point A&M will not be on the board. Then again, this is the Outback Bowl, so don't discount the possibility of them trying to select Kentucky before being told that it's against the rules.
The Cotton Bowl is pretty much pro forma. If you have a chance to hold Johnny Manziel's last college football game at a stadium in Texas, you take it. Oklahoma State finishes second to Baylor in the Big 12 and goes here.
The Chick-fil-A probably has two major options here: Georgia and LSU. My hunch is that LSU will have a burst of momentum from winning its last two games (sorry, A&M fans), and ends up facing Miami out of the ACC. Georgia goes to the Gator, which picks up Michigan to make the game an Island of Misfit Would-Be Title Contenders.
I went back and forth on the Music City and the Liberty, but both of ESPN's analysts peg Vanderbilt going to the Liberty and Ole Miss to the Music City, and I think they're right. The Music City seems to be particularly hesitant to pick the hometown team -- some bowls are -- so I think they would take the Rebels if given the chance. Georgia Tech ends up in Nashville after the Sun Bowl takes
Virginia Tech Duke and the Belk Bowl takes Duke Virginia Tech. East Carolina wins Conference USA and plays Vanderbilt.
The Compass ends up with the SEC's last pick because the conference will be out of bowl-eligible teams by the time the Advocare V100 bowl comes around -- and I'm a bit skeptical that the SEC has enough for the Compass. But we'll say that Mississippi State wraps up that place and draws Houston out of the American. Yes, Houston's in the American. Yes, the SEC has a bowl game against the American.