SEC could send 12 teams to bowl party

The Palm Beach PostNovember 1, 2013 

The SEC is in position to put 12 of its 14 teams in post-season bowls this year.

Six teams already are at the six-win threshold: Alabama, South Carolina, Auburn, Missouri, LSU and Texas A&M. Ole Miss is one short at 5-3.

The only programs virtually eliminated at this point are Arkansas (3-5) and Kentucky (1-6). The Razorbacks would need to win three of their last four games, and the Wildcats would need to win all five of theirs.

The other five teams in the hunt for bowl eligibility will be interesting to watch. Florida (4-3), for example, needs two more wins and has this for its remaining schedule:

- Nov. 2 vs. Georgia

- Nov. 9 vs. Vanderbilt

- Nov. 16 at South Carolina

- Nov. 23 vs. Georgia Southern

- Nov. 30 vs. Florida State

The only surefire victory on that list is Georgia Southern. The Gators likely will be an underdog against Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State, which means their quest for bowl eligibility could come down to next week’s game against Vanderbilt. Florida has beaten the Commodores 22 times in a row, but the past two meetings were tight in the fourth quarter.

Georgia (4-3) will have a much easier time, even if it loses to the Gators this weekend. The Bulldogs still have Appalachian State, Kentucky and Georgia Tech at the back end of their schedule.

Mississippi State (4-3) needs two more wins, but might not get them. Its next two games are at No. 14 South Carolina and No. 12 Texas A&M, then comes a home date with No. 1 Alabama. The final two games are at Arkansas and home against Ole Miss.

Vanderbilt (4-4) just needs to win home games against Kentucky and Wake Forest and should be favored in both of those.

Stunningly, Tennessee might return to a bowl after missing out the past two years. The Volunteers (4-4) have Missouri and Auburn the next two weeks, but finish with Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

Division races: Missouri loosened its grip on the SEC Eastern Division by blowing a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter and losing at home to South Carolina. The Gamecocks rallied to win 27-24 in double overtime and positioned themselves to make a run for the division title.

Missouri still leads the SEC East at 3-1 in conference and will take the division if it wins the rest of its games. However, that will be tough. The Tigers’ final two SEC games are at Ole Miss and home against No. 12 Texas A&M.

South Carolina, meanwhile, is one game back in the loss column at 4-2. It will be favored to win its remaining conference games against Mississippi State and Florida.

The only other team with a reasonable shot will be the winner of Saturday’s game between Florida and Georgia in Jacksonville (3:30 p.m., CBS). One team will be 4-2 and still in range, while the other will be nearly dead at 3-3.

In the SEC Western Division, Alabama is close to wrapping up a trip to the conference championship game in Atlanta. The Crimson Tide (5-0) has a two-game lead over LSU and Texas A&M (both 3-2). Auburn (3-1) has a chance to get to 6-1 before it hosts Alabama at the end of the regular season, which would essentially create a division title game. But before that, Auburn must survive trips to Tennessee and Arkansas, plus a home game against Georgia.

Manziel party: There is nothing surprising about quarterback Johnny Manziel wanting to party, but it seemed like poor judgment by Texas A&M to publicize that during an in-game video last week.

At some point in the Aggies’ 56-24 win over Vanderbilt, the school showed a video in which Manziel was asked who would be his ideal crew for a fun night. He listed Charlie Sheen, Rob Gronkowski and Tiger Woods.

Poll position: The SEC had six teams in the Associated Press’ top 25 this week and three others that received votes.

Here is where the conference stands nationally:

1. Alabama

8. Auburn

10. Missouri

11. LSU

12. Texas A&M

14. South Carolina

Counting through the others who received votes, Georgia finished 27th, Ole Miss was 30th and the Gators landed 33rd.

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