This year the SEC is a top heavy league. It is entirely possible and maybe even probable that the top half of the conference will all finish with 9-3 or better records. Unfortunately, that doesn't bode well for South Carolina. Here are this week's bowl projections.
BCS Championship: Alabama v. Oregon
The Crimson Tide have another tough game this weekend against Texas A&M, but there's no reason to assume a loss in that game. After that, the schedule gets much easier with Western Carolina, Auburn and Georgia. The Tide will remain number one. Oregon should finish its schedule undefeated. Notre Dame and Kansas State may as well, but neither has a championship game to propel them to the top in the last BCS standings.
Sugar Bowl: Florida v. Notre Dame
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The Gators should beat Florida State at year's end. If they fail to, their bowl slot will take a hit. With U-La-La and Jacksonville State in the next two weeks the Gators essentially have three weeks to prepare for the Seminoles. Notre Dame may or may not beat Southern Cal in the season finale. It won't matter either way; they will be an attractive team for any BCS bowl to invite.
CapitalOne Bowl: Georgia v. Michigan
The Bulldogs have successfully taken advantage of the hand they were dealt. They should fall to Alabama in Atlanta, and the CapitalOne Bowl will be a good landing spot. The B1G is going to get slaughtered this year in the bowls because their top two teams won't be playing. That moves everyone up to slots they shouldn't be in. Michigan will be the sacrificial lamb in this one.
Cotton Bowl: Texas A&M v. Oklahoma
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The Aggies are a dream selection for the Dallas based bowl. The ideal scenario would pair them with Texas, but the Longhorns may not win enough to get there. If available, the Cotton Bowl will definitely take them, but the Sooners should be a good consolation prize.
Outback Bowl: LSU v. Northwestern
This is going to be another example of B1G team benefitting from having Ohio State and Penn State out of the picture. LSU could be an attractive candidate for the CapitalOne or Cotton, but they might fall all the way to Tampa.
Chick Fil-A Bowl: Mississippi State v. Clemson
This scenario is more likely if Clemson loses to South Carolina. If the Tigers win, they could end up in a BCS bowl. Mississippi State should finish with wins over Arkansas and Ole Miss. At 9-3, 5-3 they'd be a good candidate.
Gator Bowl: South Carolina v. Wisconsin
The Gamecocks had plenty of hype and momentum after destroying Georgia. The spotlight moved elsewhere after the games in Baton Rouge and Gainesville. Whether the Gamecocks beat Clemson or not, they might very well be in Jacksonville. Wisconsin will probably finish 7-6 after losing the B1G championship game. They may also be the 4th and last B1G bowl eligible team.
Liberty Bowl: Tennessee v. Central Florida
Tennessee will win enough to make it to a bowl, but not perhaps enough to save Derek Dooley. The Vols could get any number of teams including the possibility of a Big East opponent, but Central Florida looks fairly likely right now.
Music City Bowl: Vanderbilt v. N.C. State
This was supposed to be the season when the 'Dores jumped to bigger and better things. A bowl game for a second consecutive season is better, but not much bigger. The middle of the ACC is a jumbled mess. N.C. State seems likely right now, but expect that to change weekly.
Get more great South Carolina sports analysis over at Leftover Hot Dog.