SEC bowl projections

August, 11, 2009
8/11/09
10:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

The SEC has agreements to send nine of its teams to bowl games following the 2009 season. That is, provided there are nine teams bowl eligible.

If an SEC team should wind up in the BCS National Championship Game, that opens up 10 potential spots for SEC teams.

Remember last season, though, that the SEC couldn't fill all of its tie-ins.

While realizing that it's insanely early, here's my stab at projecting the 2009 bowl lineup for SEC teams:

ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE

Bowl bound: Count on it

Best case: The Crimson Tide do what they couldn't do a year ago and get past Florida in the SEC Championship game, landing them in the BCS National Championship Game.

Worst case: The offensive line doesn't get it done, putting too much pressure on first-year starter Greg McElroy at quarterback, and the Crimson Tide settles for the AT&T Cotton Bowl.

Prediction: Capital One Bowl.

ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS

Bowl bound: Count on it

Best case: The Hogs take off in Year No. 2 under Bobby Petrino and land in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, playing their second game of the season in the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium. They also face Texas A&M earlier in the season in Jerry Jones' new digs.

Worst case: The defense doesn't make enough improvement, and a brutal road schedule takes its toll on the Hogs, sending them to the Advocare Independence Bowl.

Prediction: Chick-fil-A Bowl.

AUBURN TIGERS

Bowl bound: Possibly

Best case: The Tigers start quickly, taking advantage of four straight home games to open the season, and make it stand up for their second Chick-fil-A Bowl invitation in the last three years.

Worst case: Nobody steps up and takes the controls at quarterback, compounding the growing pains for Gus Malzahn's offense, and the Tigers stay home for the holidays for the second straight year.

Prediction: Advocare Independence Bowl

FLORIDA GATORS

Bowl bound: Count on it

Best case: The Gators make good on their goal to get through the season unbeaten and skate unscathed to their third appearance in the BCS National Championship Game in the last four years.

Worst case: Nobody fills Percy Harvin's role on offense. Tim Tebow finally shows that he's mortal, but the one-loss Gators still get invited to the BCS festivities in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Prediction: BCS National Championship Game

GEORGIA BULLDOGS

Bowl bound: Count on it

Best case: With nobody expecting the Bulldogs to challenge for the SEC championship, they ride one of the best offensive lines in the league to another 10-win season and a berth in the Capital One Bowl.

Worst case: The tackling doesn't improve on defense. The running game suffers without Knowshon Moreno, and a killer schedule gets the best of the Bulldogs, sending them to the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl.

Prediction: Outback Bowl

KENTUCKY WILDCATS

Bowl bound: Possibly

Best case: The Wildcats make it four years in a row in the postseason and figure out a way to close strong, something that's plagued them the last two years, and find their way into the Advocare Independence Bowl.

Worst case: Mike Hartline doesn't improve as a passer. The loss of senior defensive end Jeremy Jarmon is too much to overcome, and the Wildcats see their bowl streak come to an end.

Prediction: No bowl

LSU TIGERS

Bowl bound: Count on it

Best case: The Tigers get their edge back defensively thanks to the arrival of first-year defensive coordinator John Chavis and travel an hour down the road to play in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Worst case: More of the same problems from a year ago rear their head at quarterback, and defenses load up to stop the Tigers' running game. The result is a trip to the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl.

Prediction: AT&T Cotton Bowl

MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS

Bowl bound: Possibly

Best case: The deck is stacked against first-year coach Dan Mullen this first year, but some of the younger players come through and the defense plays well enough to get the Bulldogs to the Papajohns.com Bowl.

Worst case: The youth, newness and growing pains are simply too much for the Bulldogs, who can't survive a rough start to the season and miss the postseason for the second year in a row.

Prediction: No bowl

OLE MISS REBELS

Bowl bound: Count on it

Best case: Quarterback Jevan Snead has a Heisman Trophy-like season. Greg Hardy is a monster rushing the passer, and the Rebels evoke memories of their past glory by getting all the way to the BCS National Championship Game.

Worst case: The Rebels get too full of themselves and can't handle the hype. They lose early at South Carolina in a Thursday night game, and it only gets worse from there. They wind up in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Prediction: Allstate Sugar Bowl

SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS

Bowl bound: Possibly

Best case: The Head Ball Coach gets quarterback Stephen Garcia up to speed, and a young secondary stands its ground on defense, leading to a second straight appearance in the Outback Bowl.

Worst case: Garcia battles inconsistency. The combination of youth and a lack of depth gets the Gamecocks on defense, and they stay home for the holidays. The question then: Does Steve Spurrier stay around for another year?

Prediction: Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl

TENNESSEE VOLS

Bowl bound: Possibly

Best case: All that talk by first-year coach Lane Kiffin during the offseason wasn't just talk. He returns the swagger to the Tennessee program, and the Vols ride some of their promising young talent to play in the AT&T Cotton Bowl.

Worst case: Tennessee has more of the same problems as a year ago at quarterback, and everybody lines up to "welcome" Kiffin to the SEC. The Vols' reward is sitting at home and watching the bowl games on television for the second straight year.

Prediction: AutoZone Liberty Bowl

VANDERBILT COMMODORES

Bowl bound: Possibly

Best case: Not only do the Commodores start strong this season, but they finish strong behind another stout defensive effort and an improved passing game. They win seven games in the regular season and play in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Worst case: The passing game doesn't improve, and some of the pivotal plays the Commodores made on defense and special teams in 2008 aren't there, meaning their postseason run is over at one year.

Prediction: Papajohns.com Bowl

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SEC SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/27
Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12