ATHENS – Steve Ehrhart, head of the Liberty Bowl, was in Atlanta the last few days as the SEC, schools officials and bowl reps huddled and tried to arrange a complicated bowl picture.
Earhart swore late Friday he didn’t know for sure who would end up in his bowl.
“Everyone’s being real guarded,” he said.
But among Georgia’s possibilities, the Liberty may be at the forefront. That’s where most projections online now have the Bulldogs going, and Earhart sounded excited about the prospect.
“I think Georgia fans would have to have a lot of really, good fun in Memphis,” Ehrhart said.
Here’s where things stood with the SEC’s “Pool of Six” bowls as of Saturday morning, according to those familiar with discussions, and other published reports:
- The Outback Bowl looks like it will end up with LSU or Florida, whichever the Citrus doesn’t select. (This assumes Florida doesn’t shock Alabama and the world on Saturday evening.)
- The Texas Bowl and Georgia have been intrigued with each other, but the Houston-bases bowl would still likely end up with Texas A&M, per most projections.
- The Music City Bowl appears fixated on Tennessee now, after initially focusing on Georgia last week. The upsets of the final weekend of the SEC regular season scrambled the picture.
- The Gator Bowl is likely to pick Kentucky. The Belk Bowl, according to ESPN, likes South Carolina for travel reasons but would likely still be assigned Arkansas. Those two bowls have had Georgia in recent years and thus were a longshot this time.
If it all came down that way, it would leave Georgia as the winningest candidate for the Liberty, unless Vanderbilt or South Carolina jumped into the bowl – no rules prevent that – and thus Georgia would drop to Birmingham or Shreveport.
Of course, that’s all assuming events of Saturday don’t scramble everything further. Florida is one spot below Auburn in the CFP rankings. Right now Auburn appears ticketed for the Sugar Bowl over Florida.
“If they play a decent game, then they could be able to leap ahead of Auburn, and that changes everybody’s pool, because you’ve got a different makeup,” Ehrhart said.
The Liberty or Texas bowls would at least give Georgia the novelty of a new opponent. Both match SEC teams with the Big 12, and the last time Georgia played a team currently in the Big 12 was the 2009 season opener at Oklahoma State. (In 2010, Georgia played at Colorado, which has since moved to the Pac-12, and the prior season Georgia played in the Independence Bowl against Texas A&M, now in the SEC.)
CBSsports.com, in an updated projection on Saturday morning, had Georgia playing TCU in the Liberty Bowl.
SI.com, in projections done earlier in the week, had Georgia in the Music City playing Minnesota, with Baylor playing Kentucky in the Liberty. SEC Country also had Georgia playing Minnesota in the Music City.
The bowl assignments – officially made by the SEC, in consultation with the bowls and the schools – will be announced on Sunday evening.