The turkey has been carved, the leftovers put away, and the uncle you can barely tolerate is sleeping off his Thanksgiving meat coma on your sofa with his shoes still on. Soon, though, the guests will be out the door and the shopping for holiday presents will commence.
Which bowl will the pair of tickets in your stocking be coming from? HEre's a primer on the upcoming bowl season:
How are teams picked?
The Southeastern Conference’s bowl hierarchy starts with the College Football Playoff semifinals (this year the Sugar and Rose bowls), along with the four other bowls that rotate the semifinals: the Cotton, Peach, Orange and Fiesta. These are commonly referred to as the “New Year’s Six” bowls.
The CFP semifinals and New Year’s Six bowl parings will be announced at 11 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 3 on ESPN.
After that, the Citrus Bowl selects its matchup. Then the SEC selects its representatives for its “group of six” bowls: the Outback, TaxSlayer, Texas, Liberty, Music City and Belk. Those announcements will come the afternoon of Dec. 3, probably about the time you’re trying to settle in to watch the Saints-Carolina Panthers game.
One week and the SEC Championship Game to go before CFP semifinal parings and bowls are announced on Dec. 3, and so much remains to be decided.
OK, where is LSU going?
Not so fast, Trindon Holliday. There are lot of factors to consider, to wit:
• Does the SEC get one, two or three teams in the CFP semifinals and bowls? Currently it has three teams in the CFP top seven (No. 1 Alabama, No. 6 Auburn and No. 7 Georgia).
• Does LSU finish 9-3 with a win over Texas A&M on Saturday or 8-4 with a loss?
• Does South Carolina finish 9-3 with an upset of Clemson?
Would the Citrus Bowl want LSU for a second straight year?
Bowls are leery of repeat business, so it seemed highly unlikely the Citrus Bowl would consider the Tigers. That may have changed Thursday night as Mississippi State suffered the double whammy of losing the Egg Bowl to Ole Miss to finish 8-4 and losing quarterback Nick Fitzgerald to a gruesome ankle injury.
If the SEC gets three in the CFP semis/New Year’s Six bowls, that leaves the Citrus to pick between Mississippi State, LSU and South Carolina. If the Gamecocks, No. 24 in the CFP, upset No. 3 Clemson to finish 9-3, South Carolina likely would be on a rocket trip to Orlando. But if LSU beats Texas A&M and the Gamecocks join Mississippi State at 8-4, both would certainly be ranked behind LSU.
The Citrus’ preference for the highest-ranked available team is well documented, but repeats have been rare. The SEC hasn’t sent the same team to Orlando in back-to-back years since Tennessee in 1995-96, though Nebraska went after the 2011-12 seasons.
LSU is in a fight. A fight for championships and for relevance in a college football landscape chock full with programs thirsting for big-time…
Could LSU still somehow slide up into a New Year’s Six CFP bowl at 9-3?
While LSU at No. 18 isn’t mathematically eliminated from one of the non-semifinal CFP bowls, it seems highly unlikely. Too many other SEC teams to climb over.
So which bowl makes the most sense for LSU?
Start by eliminating unlikely options: The Belk Bowl, in far off Charlotte, North Carolina, makes the least sense. LSU was in the Music City Bowl in 2014 and the Texas Bowl in 2015.
The Tigers haven’t been to the Liberty since 1985 and the TaxSlayer since 1987 when it was the Gator Bowl, so those are options.
The Tigers went to the Outback Bowl in 2013, but indications are this is LSU’s preferred destination. Vincent said SEC officials view the “group of six” bowls as equals, but there are firsts among equals. The Outback, with its warm weather address in Tampa and New Year’s Day playing date, has weight that says this is the most prestigious bowl likely available to the Tigers. When you pair it with the Saints ending their regular season in Tampa against the Buccaneers on New Year’s Eve, it has even more appeal from a fan’s standpoint.
The Texas Bowl against Texas (if possible) for recruiting reasons also makes a lot of sense, plus the fact LSU lost out on its Houston game this year when the BYU contest was moved to New Orleans because of Hurricane Harvey. But a Longhorns’ team with at least five losses has less appeal than a ranked opponent from another conference, even though the Tom Herman story line is delicious.
Which team is the best matchup for LSU?
Of all the teams the Tigers could play, there is only one marquee national program that LSU has never played in football: the Michigan Wolverines. However, Michigan is 8-3 and unranked going into the Ohio State game. Michigan State, No. 16 in this week’s CFP rankings, seems a more likely matchup, especially in the Outback. Penn State could be a big player for the Citrus Bowl.