Seven SEC teams have already sealed bowl eligibility. How many more will join them? Probably not as many as in 2016.
The bowl picture looks dimmer for SEC teams than last season, and half the conference has yet to lock up eligibility with only three weeks to go.
Looking at the schedules, it’s pretty clear: somebody – make that a few somebodies – probably won’t make it. For comparison, 12 SEC teams, everyone except Missouri and Ole Miss, qualified for a bowl last year.
In fact, there are a couple of plausible scenarios in which the four teams at 4-5 all beat each other up. That strands all four teams on five wins and leaves the conference with just eight bowl-eligible schools – easily the lowest since expansion to 14 programs.
Here’s how that could happen:
Saturday: LSU beats Arkansas, Missouri beats Tennessee, Kentucky beats Vanderbilt, South Carolina beats Florida (eliminates Gators’ chance to reach six wins)
Nov. 18: Mississippi State beats Arkansas (eliminates Razorbacks’ chance), Vanderbilt beats Missouri, LSU beats Tennessee (eliminates Volunteers’ chance)
Nov. 25: Arkansas beats Missouri (eliminates Tigers’ chance), Tennessee beats Vanderbilt (eliminates Commodores’ chance)
An alternative possibility:
Saturday: LSU beats Arkansas, Tennessee beats Missouri, Kentucky beats Vanderbilt, South Carolina beats Florida (eliminates Gators’ chance)
Nov. 18: Mississippi State beats Arkansas (eliminates Razorbacks’ chance), Missouri beats Vanderbilt (eliminates Commodores’ chance), LSU beats Tennessee
Nov. 25: Arkansas beats Missouri (eliminates Tigers’ chance), Vanderbilt beats Tennessee (eliminates Volunteers’ chance)
The last SEC season with just eight bowl-eligible teams was 2008: national champion Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. Missing out that year were Arkansas, Auburn, Mississippi State and Tennessee. Three of those four changed coaches in the aftermath.
Of course, there’s also the prospect of backing into a bowl game by way of academic performance, the way Mississippi State earned its bid last year. For the purposes of this article, though, we’re looking only at bowl bids earned the old-fashioned way, by getting to six wins on the field.
Here’s a breakdown of where all 14 SEC teams stand in the bowl chase.
Mississippi State (7-2)
South Carolina (6-3)
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