Bulldogs' bowl picture still fuzzy

ATHENS, Ga. --- Now that Georgia is bowl eligible, the question is, where will the Bulldogs go bowling?

The Southeastern Conference has qualified nine teams, which means there are few certainties for bowl executives.

"It is probably as crazy as I've seen it in the 12 years I've been the CEO/president," Chick-fil-A Bowl's Gary Stokan said Monday before heading into a team selection committee meeting where he planned to report that eight SEC teams, including Georgia, are still on the Atlanta bowl's radar.

Tennessee's loss to Ole Miss and Georgia's win over Auburn on Saturday further scrambled the bowl picture.

Top-ranked Florida and No. 2 Alabama are almost certain to play in BCS bowls, and No. 10 LSU (8-2) or Ole Miss (7-3) seem to have the inside track on the Capital One Bowl, which has the first selection of SEC teams after the BCS.

The Outback Bowl and Cotton Bowl go next. The Outback has the first pick of available SEC East teams, and the Cotton has the first from the West.

Georgia (6-4) "is right in the middle of our discussions, absolutely," said Jim McVay, the president and CEO of the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.

So are a handful of other teams. Ole Miss, Arkansas (6-4) and Kentucky (6-4) also became bowl-eligible Saturday. Tennessee (5-5) needs one more win for eligibility but could get to 7-5 with games left against Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Auburn (7-4) and South Carolina (6-5) already had nailed down postseason opportunities.

"I think the only people that we don't have a shot at are Florida and Alabama or somebody that has too many losses," said McVay, whose bowl also selects a Big Ten team. "Anybody that has four or fewer losses is in the mix."

After the Outback and Cotton bowls, the Chick-fil-A picks an SEC team for its Dec. 31 bowl against an Atlantic Coast Conference team. Then come the Music City and Liberty bowls. One of those three would appear to be the Bulldogs' most likely destination, barring an upset of No. 7 Georgia Tech on Nov. 28.

"Certainly if Georgia were to beat Kentucky and Georgia Tech, they would be very appealing to us," Stokan said.

Said the Outback's McVay: "They're 6-4. Georgia can finish real strong."

South Carolina went to the Outback Bowl last season with a 7-5 record.

Georgia wants to play in the best bowl possible, but quarterback Joe Cox said that's not the team's focus.

"Our biggest concern isn't what bowl game we'll be in," he said. "We just want to finish up the season 8-4, and whatever happens after that, we'll deal with that when it comes."

Reach Marc Weiszer at marc.weiszer@onlineathens.com.

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