Now that Georgia’s regular season is over, the focus will turn to which bowl game it winds up playing in.
While Georgia lost 28-27 to Georgia Tech on Saturday, it still appears like the Bulldogs will still be one of the teams selected to an SEC six-pack game. Those are the Outback Bowl (Tampa, Florida), Music City Bowl (Nashville, Tennessee), TaxSlayer Bowl (Jacksonville, Florida), Liberty Bowl (Memphis, Tennessee), Texas Bowl (Houston) and Belk Bowl (Charlotte, North Carolina).
Here’s an attempt at shaking out where each of the SEC bowl eligible teams will play this postseason.
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This one is quite obvious. Even with a loss to Florida in the SEC Championship, Alabama appears to be in the College Football Playoff once again. And given how Florida looked against Florida State, the likelihood of Alabama losing is incredibly slim.
Projection: Peach Bowl (The Fiesta Bowl is also a possibility but the home team generally will be picked at the location closest to campus.)
Likely opponent(s): Ohio State, Clemson, Washington, Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Colorado, Oklahoma (In other words, it’s still too early to tell.)
If the SEC can’t get its conference champion in the Sugar Bowl, the bid goes to the next-highest team in the College Football Playoff rankings. As of now, that’s Auburn at No. 13, with Florida at No. 15 (the rankings will be updated Tuesday). This would definitely change if Florida upsets Alabama in the SEC Championship, considering the Gators would then be the conference champions. But a close game could cause the selection committee to bump Florida ahead of Auburn in the final rankings. For now, as long as Auburn is ranked ahead, the Tigers get the Sugar Bowl bid.
Projection: Sugar Bowl
Likely opponent(s): Oklahoma, Oklahoma State
Florida’s Sugar Bowl hopes hinge on 1) beating Alabama, and 2) hoping it does enough in the SEC Championship to cause the selection committee to bump it ahead of Auburn in the final rankings. If not, the Citrus Bowl gets the first pick of SEC teams and would probably love to have the Gators back in Orlando. LSU and Texas A&M could be enticing, however.
Projection: Citrus Bowl
Likely opponent(s): Louisville, Nebraska
If LSU isn’t selected to the Citrus Bowl, it’s likely destinations would be the Outback Bowl or the Texas Bowl. The Outback would be a good fit considering how well the LSU fan base travels. Then again, it would mark the second time in four years LSU plays in Tampa. But LSU hasn’t often played in this game as heading to the Outback Bowl would be only the third time in school history.
Projection: Outback Bowl
Likely opponent(s): Nebraska, Iowa
Texas A&M (8-4)
The Texas Bowl hasn’t shied away from hosting an in-state program in the past, so Texas A&M makes plenty of sense to head to Houston for the postseason. It would be an easy trip for those who follow the Aggies and could provide for an entertaining matchup against a team from the Big 12, Texas A&M’s former conference.
Projection: Texas Bowl
Likely opponent(s): Kansas State
The Volunteers have never played a bowl game in Charlotte. Perhaps that could be sold as a positive for Tennessee, which played its way out of a Sugar Bowl berth by losing to Vanderbilt in the regular-season finale. It would appear the Belk Bowl and TaxSlayer Bowl are the top options for Tennessee at this point. But the Volunteers played in the TaxSlayer Bowl two years ago and could be an interesting draw for a first-ever Belk Bowl appearance.
Projection: Belk Bowl
Likely opponent(s): Virginia Tech, Miami
If the aforementioned selections occur, Georgia is left with either the Music City Bowl, Liberty Bowl or TaxSlayer Bowl as bowl options. With Georgia going to the TaxSlayer Bowl last year, and also two years before that, that option can likely be scrapped. Even with the Georgia Tech loss, the Music City Bowl makes the most sense for one reason: It has been since 2001 that Georgia has played a bowl game in Nashville. Given the opportunity, you can bet the Music City Bowl would love the chance to bring Georgia back to town. But if it’s not the Music City Bowl, Georgia’s likely to head to the western side of Tennessee to play in the Liberty Bowl.
Projection: Music City Bowl
Likely opponent(s): Iowa, Minnesota, Pittsburgh
The TaxSlayer Bowl would be an attractive place for Arkansas, considering it hasn’t been there since 1981. But the Liberty Bowl is located in a far more advantageous spot for Razorbacks fans. It’s over a four-hour drive from Fayetteville, Arkansas to Memphis, compared to well over 10 hours to Jacksonville. This would essentially require a plane ticket to attend the game. The SEC would like to help Arkansas sell tickets, which is why the Liberty Bowl is a good fit.
Projection: Liberty Bowl
Likely opponent(s): TCU, Baylor
Since division play began in 1992, the TaxSlayer Bowl has held an SEC tie-in in nine seasons. Only three times did the TaxSlayer Bowl take a team from the SEC West. Kentucky has never played in the TaxSlayer Bowl, making it a win-win for the parties that be. The Wildcats also ended their season with an upset victory over Louisville, making them a lot more desirable in the process.
Projection: TaxSlayer Bowl
Likely opponent(s): North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech
The Commodores are coming off an emotional win over Tennessee and would make sense in the Birmingham Bowl. It’s less than a three-hour drive from Nashville to Birmingham, Alabama, and therefore a lot of fans could make the trip.
Projection: Birmingham Bowl
Likely opponent(s): Tulsa
South Carolina (6-6)
The last of the bunch, South Carolina, would then be headed to the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana. The Gamecocks had a better season than many expected and scored wins over Vanderbilt and Tennessee.
Projection: Independence Bowl
Likely opponent(s): N.C. State, Wake Forest, Boston College