At last night’s press conference, James Franklin finally made reference to a bowl berth, without saying the “B” word. He said, “I love these guys and I want to play with them as long as I can, and the only way I can do this is to win this week.”
If Vandy does beat Wake Forest to become bowl eligible, he’d likely get six full weeks to prepare for a bowl game. That’s because, with the loss to UT, Vandy likely fell to No. 10 in the bowl order.
Here’s the order of bowls with SEC tie-ins by payout:
1. BCS Championship Game: Jan. 9, New Orleans, La.
2. Sugar Bowl: Jan. 3, New Orleans, La.
3. Capital One Bowl: Jan. 2, Orlando, Fla.
4. Cotton Bowl: Jan. 6, Arlington, Texas
5. Outback Bowl: Jan. 2, Tampa, Fla.
6. Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Dec. 31, Atlanta, Ga.
7. Gator Bowl: Jan. 2, Jacksonville, Fla.
8. Music City Bowl: Dec. 30, Nashville, Tenn.
9. Liberty Bowl: Dec. 31, Memphis, Tenn.
10. Compass Bowl: Jan. 7, Birmingham, Ala.
If Vandy had won Saturday, it would have bounced UT from the bowl picture, leaving nine SEC teams and lining up the Commodores for a berth in either the Music City Bowl or Liberty Bowl. And if Florida had lost next week to FSU, and Vandy had beaten Wake Forest, then at 7-5 Vandy would have likely garnered a Chick-Fil-A Bowl berth over a 6-6 Florida team.
Instead, we collapsed in Knoxville. Now if Vandy wins in Winston-Salem on Saturday, which is a shaky thing to count on, then the Commodores will likely land a bid in the Compass Bowl, which plays on Jan. 7 and gives James Franklin lots of practice time. I can think of much better places to spend the first Saturday in January than ancient Legion Field in Birmingham, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Unless Tennessee loses to Kentucky, which would likely send Vandy to replace the Vols in the Liberty Bowl.
Unless Mississippi State somehow loses to Ole Miss in Houston Nutt’s finale, which would likely send the Commodores back to the Music City Bowl.
I know, I know. We’ve got to beat Wake Forest, and that won’t be easy.