Bowl picture is getting clearer


Published: Monday, November 21, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 21, 2005 at 2:04 a.m.
While Florida's football team doesn't know where it will be playing a bowl game, the Gators have an idea after Saturday's games where they won't be bowling.
That would be the Music City Bowl in Nashville. Because Tennessee lost to Vanderbilt and will not qualify for a bowl game, the SEC will not be able to honor its affiliation with the Music City Bowl.
The Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., was the bowl game that was designated the "at-risk" game last year and missed out on an SEC team when South Carolina withdrew from bowl consideration because of the ugly brawl that marred the Gamecocks' game with Clemson.
This year, that designation goes to the Music City Bowl, which paired Alabama and Minnesota last year and is likely going to grab a team from the ACC (which has eight bowl-eligible teams and six tie-ins) to pair against a Big Ten team.
As a result of Saturday's games, Florida's options are almost certainly pared down to three possibilities - the Independence, the Outback Bowl in Tampa and the Peach Bowl in Atlanta. The Capital One in Orlando has a large pool to choose from, including 9-2 Alabama, 9-2 Auburn and the loser of the SEC Championship game. Even if LSU loses to Arkansas and doesn't reach the SEC title game, the Orlando bowl's options won't include Florida.
The Cotton Bowl in Dallas, which will also have several options, likely will pick from the SEC West.
If Florida wins against Florida State on Saturday, the Gators' case for the Outback Bowl - where they played following the 2002 and 2003 seasons - would be strengthened.
The Peach, which was Florida's bowl game a year ago, hopes to pair South Carolina and Florida State if the Seminoles lose the ACC title game, but could choose Florida if the Gamecocks - despite losing to Clemson to finish 7-4 - are snatched by the Outback and FSU ends up elsewhere.
With two more weekends remaining before the bowl season, the only thing that is certain is that the SEC will only have half of its members involved in the postseason.

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