Just four weeks ago, there was serious doubt whether the LSU Tigers could win enough games to make it to any bowl.
Now you can hear the crunching of numbers as people try to figure out if LSU – currently No. 19 in the inaugural College Football Playoff rankings – can make it into a CFP semifinal.
That seems quite a stretch at this point, but LSU’s bowl prospects are definitely pointing north after the Tigers improved to 7-2 Saturday with a 10-7 upset of then No. 3-ranked Ole Miss (still No. 4 in the CFP rankings).
We’ve compiled 14 national projections and the most popular pick still has the Tigers going to the Taxslayer Bowl, Jan. 2 in Jacksonville, Florida, with seven. But five national picks also have LSU returning to the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida, where the Tigers beat Iowa on New Year’s Day.
One pick, by ESPN SEC blogger Edward Aschoff, has LSU in the Citrus Bowl (formerly Capital One Bowl) on Jan. 1 in Orlando, Florida. ESPN Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg picks Nebraska as that conference’s representative, setting up an LSU matchup with former defensive coordinator and Nebraska coach Bo Pelini.
One other pick has LSU in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee.
Bowl bids will be extended Sunday, Dec. 7, following the slotting of teams in the CFP semifinals (Sugar and Rose) and the remaining four CFP bowls (Orange, Cotton, Peach and Fiesta).
After teams are selected for the six CFP bowls and the Citrus Bowl makes its pick, the SEC will slot its remaining bowl-eligible teams into the bowls with which the conference has ties.
- Edward Aschoff (SEC blogger) and Adam Rittenberg (Big Ten blogger): Citrus Bowl vs. Nebraska
- Bill Bender, The Sporting News: Taxslayer Bowl vs. Maryland
- CollegeFootballMadness.com: Taxslayer Bowl vs. Rutgers
- CollegeFootballNews.com: Outback Bowl vs. Wisconsin
- Brad Crawford, SaturdayDownSouth.com: Outback Bowl vs. Nebraska
- Zac Ellis, SI.com: Outback vs. OhioState
- Jason Kirk, SBNation.com: Liberty Bowl vs. Baylor
- Brett McMurphy, ESPN.com: Taxslayer Bowl vs. Louisville
- Dave Miller, NationalFootballPost.com: Taxslayer Bowl vs. Maryland
- Jerry Palm, CBSSports.com: Taxslayer Bowl vs. Maryland
- Brant Parsons, Orlando Sentinel: Outback Bowl vs. Wisconsin
- Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com: Outback Bowl vs. Nebraska
- Erick Smith, USAToday.com: Taxslayer Bowl vs. Minnesota
- Phil Steele, PhilSteele.com: Taxslayer Bowl vs. Maryland
THE ADVOCATE’S PICK
If LSU remains the sixth highest-ranked SEC team as it stands right now, the Tigers’ bowl trip would depend how many SEC teams ahead of LSU would be in the CFP playoff.
Let’s figure conservatively on one SEC team in the CFP semifinals, two more in the other four CFP bowls and one in the Citrus. That would put LSU in the “Pool of Six” bowls which will be assigned by the SEC (Outback, Taxslayer, MusicCity, Liberty, Texas and Belk).
While a growing number of projections have LSU returning to the Outback Bowl, we continue to figure the Tigers’ most likely destination continues to look like the Taxslayer Bowl. It’s still a relatively prestigious destination compared to the other bowls considering it’s the only one in the “Pool of Six” besides the Outback played in January, and if LSU is in the top six SEC bowl teams (assuming a 9-3 or 8-4 finish), the Tigers should merit some better bowl consideration.
However, it must be said the criteria the SEC will use to assign bowl teams is a big unknown.
If the Tigers run the table to finish 10-2, it’s entirely possible LSU could vault into the top 10-12 teams in the CFP and have a chance of snaring one of the non-semifinal CFP bowl berths (Cotton, Peach, Orange, Fiesta) or at least the Citrus Bowl.
- Liberty Bowl: Dec. 29, Memphis
- Outback Bowl, Jan. 1, Tampa
- Citrus Bowl, Jan. 1, Orlando
- TaxSlayer Bowl: Jan. 2, Jacksonville