Bowl projections: South Carolina in Outback, Clemson vs. LSU or Georgia
Bowl slots with Southeastern Conference ties are solidifying before Saturday’s kickoff in the SEC championship game between Alabama and Georgia.
South Carolina (10-2) and Clemson (10-2) are waiting for Sunday night’s BCS Bowl Selection Show. But the Tigers, a virtual Chick-fil-A Bowl lock, know they will face an SEC opponent at the Georgia Dome (Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m.).
It looks like LSU or Georgia.
“We will try to get an 11th win,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said after the Tigers’ 27-17 loss to South Carolina. “An 11th win is something that hasn’t happened in this program in a long, long time. There’s still a lot of things out there for us.”
The Gamecocks, going for a second consecutive 11-win season, appear headed for the Outback Bowl in Tampa (Jan. 1, 1 p.m.). Northwestern is the most likely foe on the Big Ten side of the Outback draw.
A lot of trickle-down bowl alignment is tied to the Capital One Bowl’s apparent love of SEC upstart Texas A&M. The Orlando-based bowl might opt for Georgia but appears to lean toward the Aggies and Heisman Trophy frontrunner Johnny “Football” Manziel.
“I’ve been very impressed,” Capital One Bowl representative Jim Vincent told the Dallas Morning News. “They obviously have a very good team, and I’m very impressed with the quarterback.”
SEC pecking order
The Gamecocks benefit in the SEC pecking order from Clemson playing in the Chick-fil-A Bowl; few bowls want a rematch of two teams from the same state.
The 10 SEC bowl agreements, after the BCS national championship game selection, start with the Sugar Bowl. The Capital One Bowl picks next. Then the Cotton Bowl has the “first preference of teams from the Western Division” and the Outback Bowl picks first from the remaining SEC East teams. The Cotton and Outback bowls can pick teams outside divisional preference “but must not select them before the opposite bowl selects from its divisional preference.”
The Chick-fil-A Bowl gets the next pick, followed by the Gator, Music City, Liberty or Compass and Independence bowls. With nine bowl-eligible teams and one in the BCS title game, the SEC will leave two of its 10 bowl spots open to at-large selections.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff.