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November 27, 2006

SEC Bowl Partners Strike Gold

Originally, I had planned to write an article about this year being a great win for the SEC's Bowl partners. I had assumed that the same teams are going to the same bowls over and over, but this year would be different. The research below told a wildly different tale. With the exception of the Outback Bowl, the SEC does a great job of giving its bowl partners different teams on a regular basis. At least lately.

SEC Bowl Partners:
-- Capital One Bowl: The CapOne/Citrus Bowl has had 4 different teams visit the bowl over the past 5 years, and six different SEC teams over the past eight years. Prior to 2001, they were constantly pulling from the same shallow pool with Michigan, Tennessee and Ohio State all hitting town three times in four year periods. That said the bowl has had nine different Big 10 teams over the past 11 years. Only Indiana and Illinois have failed to make a Jan. 1st trip to Orlando over the past 15 years. This year, the CapOne will likely bring Wisconsin back to face Arkansas (last trip in '99) or Florida (last trip in 2000). However, as Tony Barnhart hints, Arkansas may request to be sent to the Cotton vs. Texas or TAMU, which would send AU here for a rematch.

-- Cotton Bowl: Dallas has enjoyed five different SEC teams over the past five years, and six different Big 12 teams over the past six years. Auburn looks like a front runner for this year's match-up. The Aubies haven't been to the Cotton Bowl since Bo Jackson's Heisman Year after the '85 season. With Texas A&M's win over Texas, no telling who's going to play AU. And as I mentioned above, Arkansas might lobby for a trip here instead of Orlando.

-- Outback Bowl: Very little diversity as the Outback guys hosted Florida 3 times in the past 4 years. UGA, SC and UF have represented the SEC in 8 of the past 9 trips to Tampa. The Big 10 has only sent six different teams over the past 9 years. To make matters even less diverse, they've had three rematches over the past 9 years with SC vs. OSU, Iowa vs. UF and UGA vs. Wisconsin. This year, the Outback will end up with one of three teams that hasn't been in a long while: AU (10 years ago) or more likely UT (14 years ago) vs. a Penn State team that hasn't been to town in 10 years.

-- Peach/CFA: Back to back recent trips by Miami and Tennessee not withstanding, the Peach/Chick-Fil-A Bowl has enjoyed incredible diversity of teams lately. The Peach has hosted six different SEC and six different ACC teams over the past eight years. With LSU likely getting the SEC a second BCS birth, the bowl is probably looking at UGA vs. Virginia Tech.

-- Music City Bowl: Minnesota had three trips to Nashville in four years causing some to call the game the "Glen Mason Invitational." On the SEC side, only Alabama has made a repeat visit to the Music City Bowl during the game's eight year tenure. South Carolina could make its first trip this year. If not UK will make its second trip. Plus, the MCB has a new tie-in with the ACC after ditching the Big 10. Boston College, Maryland or Wake Forest as an opponent for an SEC team. Blah.

-- Independence Bowl: 7 different SEC teams have ventured into Shreveport over the past 11 years; although, Ole Miss hit northern Louisiana three times in 5 years. They've had 6 different Big 12 teams in the past 8 years for the game. Bama vs. Ok State, Kansas or Kansas State look most likely. Yuck.

This is the first year of the SEC's Liberty Bowl tie-in. SEC Bowls will be announced after the SECC game.

Other Bowl Projections:
-- AJC's Tony Barnhart
-- (Not updated on Sunday night)
-- Sportsline



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