Tag Archives: bowl projections

Some very early bowl projections have Vols in Memphis, or sitting at home

Butch Jones after practice last month (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee coach Butch Jones might have to deal with increased expectations on the home front in Year 2, but the optimism hasn’t gone national yet.

Two ESPN reporters, in an admittedly “way-too-early bowl projection,” don’t expect the Vols to do much in 2014.

Brett McMurphy has the Vols in the Liberty Bowl against Oklahoma State. That generally means a 6-6 or perhaps 7-5 record for an SEC team. Mark Schlabach predicts the Vols to miss out on a bowl game for the fourth season in a row.

For what it’s worth, my way-too-early season prediction is 6-6, which is about Liberty Bowl level. Of course, that was my prediction last year. The Vols went 5-7 and missed out on a postseason trip.

SEC bowl breakdown: Music City back in the picture if Vols go 6-6?

Derek Dooley walks off the field after the Vols lose to North Carolina in the 2010 Music City Bowl. (photo by Michael Patrick, KNS)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — A week ago, it appeared that Memphis was the most likely destination — perhaps the only destination — if Tennessee manages to win its final two games and become bowl eligible.

But a fresh round of projections indicates that the Music City Bowl in Nashville could still be in the mix.

You can see the projected standings and bowl match-ups below. I differ with national analysts mainly by projecting Missouri to win out and make a higher-tier bowl, while predicting that Texas A&M will lose out.

But that doesn’t concern Tennessee. What could impact the Vols is how Georgia finishes the season. Using Sagarin ratings, I’m projecting Georgia to lose to both Auburn and Georgia Tech, which would drop the Bulldogs to seven wins and cause them to plummet in the bowl pecking order.

If Georgia wins at least one of those games, it would ensure that the Vols would be competing with at least one eight-win team for the Music City Bowl.

Here’s how I came up with the projections…

Projected standings, with results according to Sagarin ratings*

SEC East
Missouri: 11-2, 7-1 (beat Ole Miss, Texas A&M, lose to Alabama in SEC championship game)
South Carolina: 10-2, 6-2 (beat Florida, Coastal Carolina, Clemson)
Georgia: 7-5, 5-3 (lose to Auburn, beat Kentucky, lose to Georgia Tech)
Vanderbilt: 7-5, 3-5 (beats Kentucky, loses to Tennessee, beats Wake Forest)
Tennessee: 6-6, 3-5 (beats Vanderbilt, Kentucky)
Florida: 5-7, 3-5 (lose to South Carolina, beat Ga. Southern, lose to Florida State)
Kentucky: 2-10, 0-8 (lose to Vanderbilt, Georgia, Tennessee)

SEC West
Alabama: 13-0, 8-0 (beats MSU, Chattanooga, Auburn and Missouri in SEC championship game)
Auburn: 10-2, 6-2 (beats Georgia, loses to Alabama)
LSU: 9-3, 5-3 (beats Texas A&M, Arkansas)
Texas A&M: 8-4, 4-4 (loses to LSU, Missouri)
Ole Miss: 8-4, 4-4 (beats Troy, loses to Missouri, beats Miss. State)
Mississippi State: 5-7, 2-6 (lose to Alabama, beat Arkansas, lose to Ole Miss)
Arkansas: 3-9, 0-8 (lose to Mississippi State, LSU)

* The Sagarin predictor ratings give Vanderbilt a slight edge over UT, but for the purposes of this blog, we are assuming that the Vols become bowl eligible.

BCS Championship, Pasadena, Calif.: Alabama makes it here if the Tide wins out. This doesn’t look like a good year for a one-loss team, but never say never. My pick: Alabama. Other picks: Pretty much all Alabama.

Sugar, New Orleans: Missouri might deserve it, but Auburn’s larger fanbase and compelling come-back story make it a more logical bet for an at-large BCS berth. My pick: Auburn. Other picks: South Carolina, Auburn.

Capital One, Orlando: South Carolina might be the greatest threat to jump over Missouri for this bowl. Depending on how the season plays out, LSU and Texas A&M could also be options. My pick: Missouri. Other picks: Texas A&M, South Carolina.

Cotton, Arlington, Texas: The Cotton usually takes a West team, while the Outback takes the East, although that’s not written in stone. LSU and Texas A&M would both be viable options, but the Aggies have been here two of the last three years. My pick: LSU. Other picks: LSU, Texas A&M.

Outback, Tampa: South Carolina would be a good fit here if still on the board, but the Gamecocks were here only a year ago. Would the Outback try a West team for a change of pace? My pick: South Carolina. Other picks: Missouri, Missouri.

Chick-Fil-A, Atlanta: Ole Miss hasn’t played here since 1971. For a bowl that frequently suffers from same-old-team fatigue, that makes the Rebels a compelling pick. My pick: Ole Miss. Other picks: Georgia, Texas A&M.

Gator, Jacksonville, Fla: This is the last sort-of-warm-weather bowl. If Texas A&M is still around, the Aggies are a logical choice. Most projections seem to think the Aggies will pick up one more regular season win and be gone by now. My pick: Texas A&M. Other picks: Auburn, Georgia, LSU.

Starting here is where it gets interesting for Tennessee.

Music City, Nashville: Under the current projections, Georgia, Vanderbilt and Tennessee would all be in the mix here. The Vols would almost certainly be the most attractive pick. It would be tough to turn down a eight-win team to take the 6-6 Vols. But choosing UT over a 7-5 team it just beat (Vandy), or a 7-5 team it almost beat (Georgia) is a much easier sell. My pick: Tennessee. Other picks: Ole Miss, Ole Miss.

Liberty Bowl, Memphis: An easy call for the Liberty Bowl if the Vols are available, but a somewhat more difficult choice when it’s Vandy or Georgia. My pick: Georgia. Other picks: Tennessee, Vanderbilt.

BBVA Compass, Birmingham: My pick: Vanderbilt. Other picks. Vanderbilt, Troy.

AdvoCare Independence Bowl, Shreveport, La.: My pick: No SEC teams available. Other picks: Notre Dame, Utah.

North Carolina celebrates its Music City Bowl victory in 2010 (AP photo)

For most fans, the difference between a trip to the Liberty Bowl and a trip to the Music City Bowl isn’t a huge deal. They’re both large cities with nice downtown entertainment districts. They’re both probably going to be cold in late December. Nashville is a more convenient trip for those in eastern or Tennessee, but Memphis might be more doable for fans in other parts of the South.

Tennessee has played in the Music City Bowl once, losing to North Carolina 30-27 after the 2010 season. The Vols are 3-0 in the Liberty Bowl, but haven’t been there since beating Minnesota 21-14 in 1986.

All this talk is contingent on the Vols beating Vanderbilt on Nov. 23 and Kentucky on Nov. 30 to earn a bowl trip. Given UT’s recent struggles, that’s far from certain.

SEC bowl breakdown: Most of league in flux, but if Vols reach 6 wins, Liberty Bowl is a good bet

The Cincinnati Bearcats, then coached by Butch Jones, beat Vanderbilt in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 30, 2011. (AP photo)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The hunt for top bowls in the SEC could be crowded if the season plays out as predicted.

Eleven SEC teams are projected to be bowl eligible. Although three SEC East teams — Florida, Vanderbilt and Tennessee — could make it by the narrowest of margins, there could be as many as eight teams with eight or more wins.

There’s so much uncertainty at the top that projecting the upper-tier SEC-affiliated bowl games at this point is all but impossible. So before you send hate mail: These are just educated guesses based on a projection that is almost certain to change.

But the Vols actually have less confusion than just about any other team. If Tennessee reaches six wins, the Liberty Bowl in Memphis is the likeliest destination. Why? The Music City Bowl would love to take the Vols, but one of the eight-win teams that didn’t find a spot in the warm-weather bowls will fall right into their lap. That could potentially push Florida, Tennessee and Vanderbilt — all six wins — to Memphis, where the Liberty would grab the Vols without a second thought.

All of this is contingent on Tennessee reaching six wins, which is far from a sure thing.

We didn’t do anything fancy to project the final standings below. We simply played out the season with the higher-rated team in Sagarin’s  predictor rating winning. Home-field advantage was considered.

SEC East

Missouri: 11-1, 7-1 (play Alabama in SEC championship game)

South Carolina: 10-2, 6-2

Georgia: 8-4, 5-3

Florida: 6-6, 4-4

Tennessee: 6-6, 3-5

Vanderbilt: 6-6, 2-6

Kentucky: 2-10, 0-8

West

Alabama: 12-0, 8-0 (play Missouri in SEC championship game)

Auburn: 10-2, 6-2

LSU: 9-3, 5-3

Texas A&M: 8-4, 4-4

Ole Miss: 8-4, 4-4

Mississippi State: 5-7, 2-6

Arkansas: 3-9, 0-8

Now for the bowl pecking order. This is the last year the SEC will use this system for allotting bowl berths. For future seasons, the league office will dictate to the bowls who goes where. The idea is to send teams to new places, create better matchups and maximize ticket sales.

BCS Championship, Pasadena, Calif.: Alabama makes it here if the Tide wins out. This doesn’t look like a good year for a one-loss team, but never say never. My pick: Alabama. Other picks: Alabama and Alabama.

Sugar, New Orleans: Few projections have Missouri going here, but most seem to expect the Tigers to take another regular season loss. My pick: Missouri. Other picks: South Carolina and Auburn could also be options for an at-large BCS berth. 

Capital One, Orlando: Missouri, South Carolina, Auburn and LSU could all be possibilities. My pick: South Carolina. Other picks: Texas A&M, presumably if the Aggies beat Mizzou in the regular season.

Cotton, Arlington, Texas: The Cotton usually takes a West team, while the Outback takes the East, although that’s not written in stone. LSU, Auburn and Texas A&M would all be viable options. My pick: Auburn. Other picks: LSU.

Outback, Tampa: South Carolina (if available) or Georgia seem like good bets for this one. Some think Missouri could fall here or to Atlanta with a loss. I’ll go with a wild card out of the West. My pick: LSU. Other picks: Missouri.

Chick-Fil-A, Atlanta: Ole Miss seems like a good bet to still be around at this point. Conventional wisdom is that Georgia might not be as attractive because there will be fewer travelers and fewer hotel rooms sold. Not sure if that’s a concern. My pick: Ole Miss. Other picks: Ole Miss, Missouri.

Gator, Jacksonville, Fla: This is the last sort-of-warm-weather bowl. I have it down to Texas A&M and Georgia, but depending on how you project the rest of the season, as many as six teams could be considered. My pick: Texas A&M. Other picks: South Carolina, Ole Miss.

Music City, Nashville: There could be one team with eight or more wins still left here. As much as I think the Music City would like to take the Vols, they won’t jump a 6-6 team over an 8-4 club. My pick: Georgia. Other picks: Auburn, Georgia.

Liberty Bowl, Memphis: An easy call for the Liberty Bowl if the Vols are available. Other picks: All Vols.

BBVA Compass, Birmingham: Florida.

AdvoCare Independence Bowl, Shreveport, La.: Vanderbilt

EDITED at 3:06 p.m. to correct LSU’s projected record and put Auburn ahead of LSU in Cotton Bowl.