Originally created 11/28/01

Arkansas' trip still up in the air



LITTLE ROCK -- Whether Arkansas is still in the running for the Music City Bowl might be clear after Alabama plays Southern Mississippi on Thursday night. This Saturday and next, five games involving SEC teams could have a bearing on where the Razorbacks travel for the postseason.

If the Crimson Tide beats Southern Miss, Arkansas is likely to play in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. If Alabama loses, Arkansas is the could play in the Music City in Nashville, Tenn.

But the Razorbacks could also slip into the Peach Bowl in Atlanta if Auburn beats LSU on Saturday and earns a trip to Atlanta for the SEC championship game on Dec. 8. Otherwise, Auburn appears ticketed for the Dec. 31 Peach.

And even the Cotton Bowl is an outside possibility for the Razorbacks. For that to happen, LSU probably would have to win the league championship and take a Bowl Championship Series spot.

The Razorbacks (7-4, 4-4) are one of eight SEC teams already bowl eligible and Alabama (5-5, 4-4) will join the list with a victory.

Apparently, the Music City Bowl wants Alabama. In that case, the SEC would have to ship one team to a non-SEC-aligned bowl even if the league has two representatives in the BCS. With high-profile Eli Manning, Mississippi could fit the bill.

The winner of the SEC championship game on Dec. 8 is an automatic in the BCS. Since Florida and Tennessee are second and sixth in the BCS standings, there is a strong possibility both will be playing in one of the four BCS games.

In addition to the BCS, the SEC has ties with six other bowls.

Bowl eligible with Arkansas are Florida (9-1, 6-1), Tennessee (9-1, 6-1), South Carolina (8-3, 5-3), Georgia (7-3, 5-3), Auburn (7-3, 5-2), LSU (7-3, 4-3) and Mississippi (6-4, 3-4).

Games this week include Florida-Tennessee, Georgia-Houston, LSU-Auburn and Mississippi-Vanderbilt.

Alabama is favored by a touchdown against Southern Miss. Florida, Georgia and Mississippi are big favorties and LSU is a touchdown favorite.

The SEC title game matches the Florida-Tennessee winner against the LSU-Auburn winner.

The SEC has agreements with the Citrus Bowl in Orlando on Jan. 1, the Outback in Tampa on Jan. 1, the Cotton in Dallas on Jan. 1, the Peach, the Music City on Dec. 28 and the Independence on Dec. 27.

South Carolina is supposed to be in the Citrus against Michigan. Georgia seems likely to play Ohio State in the Outback. Apparently, LSU is headed to Dallas.

If Alabama is in the Music City, that leaves Auburn, Arkansas and Mississippi to fill the slots in Atlanta and Shreveport. If Auburn beats LSU, Peach Bowl officials might prefer the Razorbacks instead of having the Plainsmen return in three weeks.

In the event LSU or Auburn wins the SEC championship, it's back to the drawing board.