The Ole Miss Rebels became bowl-eligible with a win over Arkansas this past weekend, and now they're a team looking to secure the best bowl possible come Sunday December 8th.
Hugh Freeze and the Rebels should enter the Egg Bowl at either 8-3 or 7-4, with the outcome of the Missouri game being the difference between seven or eight wins ahead of the trip to Starkville.
While winning out is the best thing the Rebels can do for themselves, their final bowl destination is actually dependent upon game outcomes of fellow SEC members over the next two weeks.
With several important games remaining during the rest of the regular season, the SEC bowl pecking order is currently foggy at best. While Florida, Vandy, Tennessee and Mississippi State are still hoping to become bowl-eligible before the regular season wraps up, none of these teams will jump the Rebels in the SEC bowl selection order.
With 9-0 Alabama and 9-1 Auburn on a collision course for an epic Iron Bowl (and BCS bids), that leaves Ole Miss (6-3), LSU (7-3), Texas A&M (8-2), Missouri (9-1) and South Carolina (7-2) for the Capital One, Cotton, Outback, Chick-fil-A and Gator Bowls.
As for Georgia, with a loss to either Auburn or Georgia Tech (likely), UGA would at best finish with a disappointing 8-4 record. If that happens, the Bulldogs would almost be assured of a trip to Nashville for the Music City Bowl.
Let's take a look at some games that will impact where Ole Miss lands:
November 16: Georgia at Auburn
November 23: Texas A&M at LSU
November 23: Missouri at Ole Miss
November 28: Ole Miss at Mississippi State
November 30: Clemson at South Carolina
November 30: Georgia Tech at Georgia
November 30: Texas A&M at Missouri
November 30: Alabama at Auburn
Alabama, Auburn and Texas A&M's Impact
Now, stay with me as we consider the scenarios likely to impact the Rebels' final bowl destination.
Assuming the Rebels take care of business and win out, they would finish one of the hottest teams in all the land having won six in a row and two against then-top-10 clubs. In essence, they'd be one of the hottest teams on the block to major bowl reps looking to fill seats and hotels.
If the Rebels win out, look no further than SEC sophomores Texas A&M and Missouri to make the biggest impact on where Hugh Freeze takes the Rebels bowling.
If they upset Mizzou at home on senior night, the Tigers would fall to 9-2 ahead of a home date with Texas A&M (which would enter the game at 9-2 with a win over LSU).
That would mean between A&M and Mizzou, one team would finish 9-3 and the other 10-2. Working under that assumption, the 10-2 team would then jump ahead of the Rebels in the bowl order and land in the Capital One Bowl. For argument's sake, let's assume A&M finishes 10-2 and Mizzou finishes 9-3.
Alabama plays in the BCS National Championship.
Auburn receives an at-large BCS Sugar Bowl bid.
Texas A&M bids farewell to Johnny Football in the Capital One Bowl.
South Carolina, Missouri and LSU's Impact
If LSU manages to beat Johnny Football and Co. in Tiger Stadium, they should finish at 9-3.
Then, we already have assumed Mizzou finishes 9-3, too.
Finally, assuming Ole Miss finds a way to beat Mizzou and Mississippi State, the Rebels would finish 9-3.
If the Gamecocks were to lose to rival Clemson, South Carolina would join Missouri, LSU and Ole Miss with 9-3 records. Each of these teams would be on the table for the Cotton, Outback, Chick-fil-A and Gator Bowls.
So, there's a decent chance four SEC teams finish 9-3 and jockey for bowl invites up to the very last minute on Selection Sunday.
That would leave the Cotton, Outback, Chick-fil-A and Gator Bowls in play for South Carolina, Ole Miss, LSU and Mizzou. However, by winning out, the Rebels would have defeated both LSU and Missouri.
How many Cotton Bowls has South Carolina ever played in? Zero.
Despite how Ole Miss fans opened their wallets in recent Cotton Bowl appearances, the Cotton Bowl brass would be licking their chops to land a South Carolina club that's never made an appearance.
So, what then would the Outback Bowl do?
Since 1997, only one SEC West club has played in the Tampa, FL bowl game: Auburn (2009). With that in mind, SEC sophomore Mizzou would most likely end up in playing in the Outback.
Finally, Ole Miss would land in the Chick-fil-A Bowl and Rebel fans would descend upon Atlanta in droves. Not to be forgotten, LSU winds up in the Gator Bowl.
That's the most logical guess I can make at this point.
Now let's see how it all unfolds.
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