Eleven of the 14 teams in the Southeastern Conference are eligible to play in bowl games this holiday season, and the sifting and sorting has begun for league officials hoping to place their schools in the most attractive locations possible.
The pairings for all 41 postseason games, including the College Football Playoff games, will be announced Sunday during a selection show at noon on ESPN.
Bowl-eligible teams from the SEC Western Division include Alabama (12-0), Auburn (8-4), Texas A&M (8-4), LSU (7-4) and Arkansas (7-5). Eligible teams from the Eastern Division are Florida (8-3), Tennessee (8-4), Georgia (7-5), Kentucky (7-5), South Carolina (6-6) and Vanderbilt (6-6).
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For Kentucky, a timely victory over 11th-ranked Louisville on Saturday created an opportunity for the Wildcats to move up in class.
A tier of bowls the SEC calls the “pool of six” now seems the most likely destination for Kentucky. League teams for those games are assigned by the SEC.
The “pool of six” games are:
▪ Texas Bowl at Houston (Dec. 28, 9 p.m.): SEC vs. Big 12
▪ Belk Bowl at Charlotte, N.C. (Dec. 29, 5:30 p.m.): SEC vs. ACC
▪ Liberty Bowl at Memphis (Dec. 30, Noon): SEC vs. Big 12
▪ Music City Bowl at Nashville (Dec. 30, 3:30 p.m.): SEC vs. ACC or Big Ten
▪ TaxSlayer Bowl at Jacksonville, Fla. (Dec. 31, 11 a.m.): SEC vs. ACC or Big Ten
▪ Outback Bowl at Tampa, Fla. (Jan. 2, 1 p.m.): SEC vs. Big Ten
Games above the “pool of six” tier that could claim SEC teams include the Peach and Fiesta — which serve this year as playoff semifinals — the Sugar, Orange, Cotton and Citrus. All of those bowls appear to be out of Kentucky’s reach.
Ranking below the “pool of six” are the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., and the Birmingham (Ala.) Bowl.
The College Football Playoff Rankings hold the most sway in determining which teams will land where. SEC teams in the most recent CFP Top 25 included No. 1 Alabama, No. 13 Auburn, No. 15 Florida and No. 17 Tennessee.
This week’s playoff rankings will be revealed Tuesday night.
College Football Playoff rankings show
7 p.m. (ESPN)