published Monday, December 6th, 2010

SEC lands 10 in bowl games

Ten bowl teams, including one playing for the national championship.

If the scenario sounds familiar, it's because the Southeastern Conference will be as well-represented in college football's postseason a month from now as it was last year. The most obvious difference, however, is that Auburn will carry the league banner in the BCS title game a year after rival Alabama won the crown with a 37-21 defeat of Texas.

The No. 1 Tigers (13-0) will face No. 2 Oregon (12-0) in this season's BCS championship in Glendale, Ariz. Auburn finished No. 3 in 1983, No. 4 in 1993 and No. 2 in 2004 but has not won a national title since 1957.

"Our fans have been waiting so long for this opportunity," second-year Tigers coach Gene Chizik said Sunday night on ESPN. "A year ago, when we started on this adventure, this was our goal. We have found a way as a team to come together, and I think this is huge for our university, huge for the players and coaches, and huge for the Auburn family.

"We couldn't be more excited about it."

Oregon averages 49 points per game, while Auburn averages 43. The Tigers and Ducks will have the next 35 days off before meeting Jan. 10, including the 30-day gap between Auburn junior quarterback Cam Newton likely winning the Heisman Trophy this Saturday night and the BCS kickoff.

BCS STANDINGS

1. Auburn

2. Oregon

3. TCU

4. Stanford

5. Wisconsin

6. Ohio State

7. Oklahoma

8. Arkansas

9. Michigan State

10. LSU

The Associated Press

Auburn players give coach Gene Chizik a shower during the final stages of Saturday's 56-17 trampling of South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference title game.

The BCS title game won't be the only intriguing matchup involving an SEC team, as reflected by a look around: Arkansas (10-2) will play Ohio State for the very first time in the Sugar Bowl. The Razorbacks are the only team nationally with a quarterback (Ryan Mallett) who has 3,000 passing yards, a running back (Knile Davis) with 1,000 yards, and five receivers (Joe Adams, Greg Childs, Cobi Hamilton, D.J. Williams and Jarius Wright) who have at least 500 receiving yards.

• Alabama (9-3) was invited to the Capital One Bowl and will face Michigan State. The Crimson Tide have more bowl appearances and more bowl wins than any program, and it may be the final game for junior tailback Mark Ingram.

"I grew up a Michigan State fan," Ingram said Sunday, "so it will be very exciting for me and my family just to go out, play in the game and for them to watch it."

• LSU (10-2) will face Texas A&M in the 75th annual Cotton Bowl, which will be the 50th meeting between the two but the first since 1995. The game sold out Sunday.

• Florida (7-5) suffered its first five-loss regular season since 1988 but got a respectable consolation prize with an Outback Bowl date against Penn State.

"We've been fortunate around here to be in a bowl game for 20 consecutive years, and I've told our players and staff not to take that for granted," Gators coach Urban Meyer said. "This is a tremendous opportunity to continue to grow and develop as a football team."

• South Carolina (9-4) was shellacked 56-17 by Auburn in Saturday's SEC title game but will head back to the Georgia Dome for a Chick-fil-A Bowl pairing against Florida State, which lost the ACC title game to Virginia Tech. It will be the bowl's 14th straight sellout.

"If we're ever going to win the SEC championship, we're going to have to win a game in the Georgia Dome," Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said. "This gives us another opportunity to play there."

• Mississippi State (8-4) will face Michigan in the Gator Bowl, which is new to the SEC postseason pecking order after the league punted the Independence Bowl from its lineup. The Bulldogs are making their first trip to Florida for a bowl since World War II.

• Tennessee (6-6) this past August canceled a two-year series with North Carolina scheduled for 2011-12, but the Vols and Tar Heels are meeting in the Music City Bowl. They last met in 1961.

• Georgia (6-6) will play in the Liberty Bowl against Central Florida, which is guided by former Georgia Tech coach George O'Leary.

• Kentucky (6-6) rounds out the league listing with a trip to the BBVA Compass Bowl (formerly Papajohns.com) against Pittsburgh. The Wildcats are making a record fifth consecutive bowl, and Joker Phillips is the first UK coach to reach the postseason in his inaugural try.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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