We could do another bowl prediction post this week, but at this point, I think it’s pretty simple: OSU wins Bedlam and the Big 12 and heads to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. OSU loses to OU, and the Cowboys are likely heading to the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio (more on that in a minute).
The Sugar Bowl is contracted as the Big 12 champions’ designated New Year Six bowl. That is unless the conference champion makes the final four, in which case the second place team takes the champs place in Atlanta. The Big 12 champ is matched-up against the SEC champion or second place team if the champs make the playoff...
So the second place team.
At this point that could be a number of options:
Florida - The 8-3 SEC East champs will face Alabama in the SEC championship game on Saturday. Win and they’re the SEC champs and have a shot at the playoffs (though I’m not sure the committee cares that much about winning your conference this year. see: Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin). More likely, they lose and finish 8-4 and lose two straight games to end the season.
Tennessee - The team that was supposed to be “back”. The “dark horse” candidates to win the East at the start of the year finish 8-4 in second place behind Florida. They’re season included a 3-game losing streak to Texas A&M, Bama, and South Carolina. They ended the season with a loss to Vanderbilt.
Auburn - The Tigers far exceeded expectations with a surprise second place finish in the SEC West. However, after getting themselves into position to challenge for the West, Auburn went and lost their last two conference games to Georgia and Alabama.
LSU - After starting the season 2-2, the Tigers went 5-2 under newly named head coach Ed Orgeron. Granted they finished the season 2-2 with close losses to Alabama and Florida and blowout victories over Texas A&M and Arkansas.
I could include Texas A&M here since they also have an 8-4 record, but they finished fourth in the West and haven’t won an SEC game since beating Tennessee on October 8th.
Of the four options, Florida or Auburn seem the most likely to me. Florida won the East and will end likely end the season with 4 losses. If they hadn’t had to reschedule the LSU game they would have 9 wins right now which I think would lock them in for the Sugar Bowl (they had to cancel a game against Presbyterian). Auburn finished second in the West with the tie-breaker over LSU and was the second highest ranked SEC team at No. 13 after Alabama. Both teams lost on Saturday and will likely fall in the next rankings. Auburn probably less so than Florida because they lost to Bama. That would leave Auburn the second highest ranked SEC team.
I went through the bowl predictions to see what everyone else thinks:
Now, if OSU loses Bedlam on Saturday, they are likely heading to the Alamo Bowl. I say likely because there is a scenario where West Virginia could get picked ahead of OSU (though I think it’s a slim one). If West Virginia beats Baylor this weekend, the Mountaineers and Cowboys will finish the season with two Big 12 losses. OSU wins the head-to-head tie-breaker to finish in second in conference play. However, WVU will finish with a better overall record (10-2) than the Cowboys (9-3). Plus, depending on how bad OSU were to lose Bedlam, they could fall behind West Virginia in the rankings. The Alamo Bowl is supposed to take the first non-playoff, non-Sugar Bowl team. They could take West Virginia over OSU because of over-all record and rankings hoping for a better TV game. That would push the Cowboys to the Russell Athletic Bowl.
Despite what the experts at CBS predict, I don’t think that will happen for a couple reasons; The Alamo Bowl is going to get a better showing from OSU fans than West Virginia due to proximity to fan base. The state of Texas (and Oklahoma) is loaded with OSU fans. Certainly more so than West Virginia.
So let’s ignore the Russell Athletic Bowl and just look at potential Alamo Bowl opponents.
This is the bowl game most bowl predictions have OSU going to. We would face the No. 2 PAC-12 team, or whichever team finished highest of those not chosen for the Playoff and New Year Six. If Washington beats Colorado on Friday night, the Cougars are likely heading to the playoff. That leaves a PAC-12 spot in the Rose Bowl followed by a pick for the Alamo. I think there are really only two options for those; Colorado and USC.
Colorado - Mack MacIntyre has lead a surprising resurgence of the Buffaloes in his fourth year at the helm. They won the PAC-12 South with and went 10-2 overall. The only losses were to Michigan and USC, and Colorado was competitive in both games.
USC - The Trojans started the year 1-3 with a BLOWOUT loss to Alabama and a 17 point loss to a not-so-great Stanford team. Since then, they’ve won 8 straight games and are one of the hottest teams in the country. That includes wins over Colorado and Washington.
I’m not sure which team is going to get the Rose Bowl invite. It’s going to be hard for the game to pass on a hot USC team, especially if Washington beats Colorado badly in the PAC-12 championship game. A USC vs Penn State/Wisconsin/Michigan game sounds really good for TV ratings. To me Colorado will be more deserving of the opportunity. Even if they lose to Washington and have the same number of losses, they will have 10 wins to USC’s nine.
In the end, I think USC is going to be the PAC-12 representative in the Alamo Bowl. Big 12 championship aside, if I had to choose between playing a 4-loss SEC team and a red-hot USC team in a bowl game... bring on Auburn! I don’t want any part USC right now.
Of the five potential options: USC, Colorado, Florida, Auburn, LSU, or Tennessee, which team would you like to see OSU play this year in a bowl game? As always, leave your thoughts in the comments section.