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Headed for the Post Season: The SEC and ACC

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Since it's a bye week and there isn't a whole lot to talk about beyond the textbook suspensions, over the next few days we'll be taking a look at all the conferences and seeing who's already bowl eligible, who's well on their way to the postseason, who's got their fingers crossed, and who's staying home. There are currently 32 bowl games, meaning 64 teams get a shot at extending their seasons if they can just make it to 6 wins and earn an invite. We'll start tonight with our own conference, the SEC, and also take a look at the ACC, to see who has a shot at getting there.

Already In

South Carolina
6-2 (3-2)
The 'Cocks are already sitting on six wins and have a pretty good shot at extending that win total to at least eight. They play back to back road games at Tennessee and Arkansas before finishing off the season at home against Florida and Clemson. Wins over UT and Clemson seem likely, they have a better than average shot at Arkansas, but they'll have to pull off a stunning upset to top Florida. CBS Sports currently has them in the Outback Bowl against Penn State.
Kentucky
6-2 (2-2)

Believe it or not, of the only two teams in the East that are already bowl eligible, Kentucky is one of them. The emergence of the 'Cats this season has been a great story, but losses to South Carolina and now Florida have brought the program's lofty goals crashing back to Earth. Still, this team has a chance at running the rest of their schedule, with Mississippi State visiting this weekend, back to back road trips to Vanderbilt and Georgia, a team they upset last season, and a closing date with a worsening Tennessee. I can't believe I'm about to say this, but UK has a damn good chance at reaching ten wins this season, and the CBS bowl projections currently has them taking on Michigan in the Capital One Bowl.

LSU
7-1 (4-1)

Moving to the West, the dreams of an undefeated season came crashing down for the Tigers in Lexington, but their hopes for a chance at the title game are still intact. Only our own beloved Tide stands in the way their of finishing out the schedule with four straight wins and a trip to the SEC Championship Game. They visit Tuscaloosa on Nov 3rd after a bye week, and will then munch on a few tasty morsels like La. Tech, Ole Miss, and Arkansas. CBS has them in the title game against Ohio State.

Alabama
6-2 (4-1)

And speaking of the Tide, a throttling of the hated Vols got this team bowl eligible and, more interestingly, in the hunt for a trip to Atlanta. The schedule isn't an easy one though, as LSU comes calling in two weeks, we head to Starkville looking for revenge on Nov 10th, and the season ending Iron Bowl is always a game where the record books can be thrown out the window. An 8-4 finish is entirely possible, but with the way this season is going, so is a 10-2. CBS currently has the Tide taking on Virginia Tech in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.


Getting In

Florida
5-2 (3-2)

The Gators are a lock for the post season and, really, for an appearance and possible rematch with LSU in Atlanta. Georgia, Vandy, and South Carolina, all winnable, are the only teams that can stand in the way of another trip to the SCG, while the Gators take on two non-conference foes in Florida State and Florida Atlantica that will most likely give the Gator's a winning end to the season. CBS projects them in the Sugar Bowl against Hawaii.

Georgia
5-2 (3-2)

The Dawgs most likely won't be bowl eligible for another two weeks, as they head to Jacksonville, a city that has been particularly unkind to them, to take on the division favorite Florida Gators. Unfortunately for the Dawgs, though, the rest of the way doesn't get any easier with giant killer (or, at least scarer) Troy, bitter rival Auburn, and Kentucky all coming to Athens over the next three weeks before they travel to Atlanta for the annual season ending game against Georgia Tech. That's a tough row to hoe, and it isn't inconceivable to imagine UGA winding up a middling 7-4. CBS currently has them in the Music City Bowl against the ACC's Wake Forest.

Auburn
5-3 (3-2)

After considerable trouble at the start of the season, little brother finally got things together against Florida and looked like they had things turned around. A close call against Arkansas and some head scratching decisions at LSU (seriously, how do you not challenge that spot?), though, make this look more and more like a 7 or 8 win kind of year. Gimme wins against Ole Miss and 1AA Tennessee Tech occupy the next two spots on Auburn's calendar, and a trip to Athens, where Auburn has been historically very successful, should provide great momentum builders going into the Iron Bowl. CBS thinks Auburn will wind up in the Cotton Bowl for the second year in a row, this time taking on the Tigers of Missouri.


Hoping to Get In

Tennessee
4-3 (2-2)

A while back I made the boneheaded prediction that Vandy would get to a bowl while UT would stay at home this year. With each week, that's looking a little more possible. The Vols looked like world beaters against UGA, but have generally struggled over the course of the season. A gimme win against La.-Lafayette will get them to five wins, but the rest of the schedule is loseable for the Vols. 10/27 brings South Carolina to Knoxville, while Arkansas comes calling on 11/10, followed by a visit from in state rival Vanderbilt. They finish off the season in what should be a clash of offenses in Lexington on 11/24. If the Vols want to avoid another mishap like the delicious debacle of 2005, La.-Lafayette, Arkansas, and Vandy are all winable, but the Ragin' Cajuns are the only real gimme left. CBS thinks the Vols will wind up in Memphis in a rematch with Southern Miss.

Vanderbilt
4-3 (2-3)

There were high hopes of a bowl invite this year for the Commies, but those dreams seemed dashed Vandy was unable to hold onto a 4th quarter lead against Georgia. But there's life in the 'Dores yet. They have five shots at two wins, with Miami (OH), at Florida, Kentucky, at Tennessee, and Wake Forest all remaining on the schedule. Vandy should inch closer this weekend against a not so good Red Hawks team, leaving UT and Wake the two likeliest candidates for the ever elusive sixth win. CBS does not project Vandy as being bowl bound.

Arkansas
4-3 (1-3)

After shocking nearly everyone with their run to the SEC title game last year, the Hogs have crashed back to Earth this season and placed embattled HC Houston Nutt squarely on the hot seat with a miserable 4-3 record despite the best backfield in the country. The rest of the schedule looks like FIU, South Carolina, at Tennessee, Mississippi State, and at LSU, with both FIU and State looking to give the Hogs the two wins they need to get eligibile. CBS thinks they'll wind up in the Independence Bowl against Oklahoma State.

Mississippi State
4-4 (1-3)

The Bulldogs also had some high hopes about getting above .500 this year, and the stunning upset in Auburn gave a lot of fans hope. Unfortunately, continual offensive stagnation has kept State from being anything more than a decently tough contest for it's SEC opponents, while the rest of the schedule doesn't shape up well. They travel to Kentucky this weekend, and Alabama, at Arkansas, and Ole Miss round out the schedule. A likely win over the Rebels gets them to five wins, but knocking off one of the other three doesn't seem too likely. CBS agrees.


Staying Home

Ole Miss
2-6 (0-5)

The Rebels need four more wins to get to .500, and if the last four teams on their schedule were all as weak as 1AA Northwestern State they might stand a chance. Unfortunately for the Ole Miss faithful a trip to Auburn, LSU, and a trip to Starkville for the Egg Bowl close out the year, and 3-9 is the likely scenario.

Already In

Boston College
7-0 (3-0)

The #2 ranked Eagles of Boston College pretty well have the inside track to the ACC Championship Game, with only their Thursday night date with Virginia Tech looking like a loss the rest of the way. Florida State, at Maryland, at Clemson, and Miami (FL) round out the schedule, and are all winable for BC. CBS thinks the Eagles will take the ACC and it's berth in the Orange Bowl against projected Big East champions South Florida.

Virginia
7-1 (4-0)

After a thoroughly embarassing 3-23 loss at Wyoming to open the season, the Cavaliers have reeled off seven straight wins, with only two coming by more than a TD, and most of them coming down to a late game (and often come from behind) scoring drive. It's a great story, but it's going to catch up to them, and soon, with at NC State, Wake, at Miami (FL), and Virginia Tech finishing the season. Only NC State looks like a lock, but that's still eight wins and, according to CBS, good enough for a trip to the Meineke Car Care Bowl against Cincinatti.

Virginia Tech
6-1 (3-0)

The Hokies have put things together over the past few weeks, starting with an absolute domination of Clemson. They'll take on Boston College on Thursday, and the rest of the schedule features at Georgia Tech, Florida State, Miami (FL), and at Virginia, all of which are winnable. The Hokies will more than likely make the ACC CG for a rematch with Boston College, but CBS thinks they'll wind up as the ACC No. 2 selection, good for a second straight trip to the Chik-Fil-A bowl, this time against our own beloved Tide.


Getting In

Wake Forest
5-2 (3-1)

Defending ACC Champions Wake Forest started off the season with two straight losses to Boston College and, embarassingly, Nebraska, but got things together to run off five straight. North Carolina, at Virginia, at Clemson, NC State, and at Vandy finishes the schedule, and all of these games are winable for the Demon Deacons. CBS thinks Wake will wind up in Nashville, facing off against UGA in the Music City Bowl.

Clemson
5-2 (2-2)

True to form, Clemson started the season strong with four straight wins, including a season opening win against (former) powerhouse Florida State. A loss at Georgia Tech and a blow out by Virginia Tech at home derailed the season, though, prompting the Tigers to, in a classy display of frustration, run up a 70-14 score against Central Michigan. At Maryland, at Duke, Wake, Boston College, and at South Carolina finishes out the season, and both Maryland and Duke seem like the likeliest victims to get the Tigers to at least seven wins and, in CBS's mind, a berth in the Gator Bowl against Texas.

Miami (FL)
5-3 (2-2)

The 'Canes have shown flashes of their old dominance under new HC Randy Shannon, but have also looked like a program fighting the past several years of decline at others. NC State, Virginia, at Virginia Tech, and at Boston College finish out the year for Miami, with NC State and Virginia being imminently winable, and even the Hokies and Eagles needing to keep the 'Canes in mind. CBS has them in the Emerald Bowl against Arizona State.

Georgia Tech
5-3 (2-3)

The Yellowjackets crashed back to their typical Gaileyan mediocrity after making the ACC CG last season, and will more than likely wind up at 7-5 with Virginia Tech, at Duke, UNC, and Georgia finishing out the season. Duke and UNC should get them to 7 wins, but don't be shocked if they end up at 6-6. CBS thinks they're good enough for an invite to the Champs Sports bowl as the ACC No. 4 against Wisconsin.


Hoping to Get In

Maryland
4-3 (1-2)

Back to back upsets of Rutgers and Georgia Tech have the Terps at four wins, but the rest of the schedule doesn't do them any favors. They have Clemson, at UNC, Boston College, at Florida State, and at NC State to look forward to, and the North Carolina schools are their best shot at reaching .500. CBS thinks they squeak into Armed Forces Bowl against Air Force in the place of their Pac-10 selection.

Florida State
4-3 (1-3)

Despite a win over our own beloved Tide in one of the worst games of football I've ever seen, the Seminoles are just not a good team. Sitting at four wins with Duke, at BC, at Va Tech, Maryland, and at Florida remaining, there's a good chance the 'Noles might have to stay home this year. Duke should be a gimme, and I like them against Maryland, but a 5-7 finish isn't outside the realm of possibility. CBS thinks they make the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise against, wait for it, Boise State.


Staying Home

NC State
2-5 (0-3)

The Wolfpack finally got a win over a 1-A opponent this weekend, downing East Carolina 34-20, but their chances of winning four of their next five to get to .500 aren't good. Virginia, at Miami (FL), UNC, at Wake, and Maryland fill out the schedule.

North Carolina
2-5 (1-2)

An upset of Miami is the biggest highlight of Butch Davis's first year at UNC, and the only win over a 1-A team so far. They've been fairly competetive in most of their games, but the rest of the schedule features at Wake, Maryland, at NC State, at Ga. Tech, and Duke. Wins over Duke and NC State seem likely, but that's about it.

Duke
1-6 (0-4)

What can you say? Duke is Duke.