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SEC Sitting Pretty As Regular Season Winds Down

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TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 01: Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney #7 of the South Carolina Gamecocks rushes up field during a 33 - 28 victory against the Michigan Wolverines in the Outback Bowl January 1, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

TAMPA, FL – JANUARY 01: Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney #7 of the South Carolina Gamecocks rushes up field during a 33 – 28 victory against the Michigan Wolverines in the Outback Bowl January 1, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CBSMiami) – The Southeastern Conference is once again dominating the Bowl Championship Series standings and hopes to get two teams into major bowls. Still, multiple teams are jockeying for prime bowl position and others are simply hoping to qualify for the postseason.

The Florida Gators have been to a bowl game each season for more than two decades, but a glut of injuries and complete lack of offensive production could send the Gators home early this year. Florida has to beat South Carolina and Florida State just to become bowl eligible this season.

That means the Gators will have to beat the tenth ranked Gamecocks and second ranked Seminoles to qualify for the postseason.

“We’re taking everything one game at a time, one snap at a time,” Florida center Jon Harrison said. “If we focus on things too far in the future, we lose sight of the task at hand. We’re trying to work on Florida and eliminating the self-inflicted wounds that Florida has been suffering from.”

On the flip side is the team that blew out the Gators last weekend at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, the Vanderbilt Commodores. Vandy is 5-4 on the season and has winnable games against Kentucky, Tennessee, and Wake Forest over the next three weekends.

If Vanderbilt is able to get just one more victory over those three games, the Commodores would make a second consecutive bowl appearance for the first time in team history.

“From an outside perspective, talking to the media or things like that, we do bring up some of the historical things because we’re still trying to change people’s perception about Vanderbilt football and what we’ve been and where we’re going,” Vandy head coach James Franklin said.

Getting to a bowl game helps the conference and a school’s bottom line. The payouts this year from non-BCS bowl games for the SEC range from $1.925 million for the BBVA Compass Bowl to $8.5 million for Orlando’s Capital One Bowl.

The SEC champion will go to the Sugar Bowl, unless that team is in the top two of the final BCS standings, and then would go to the BCS national championship game. In the second scenario, a replacement SEC team would likely be selected for the Sugar Bowl.

Several teams are battling for the right to get to the Sugar Bowl if Alabama runs the table and makes it to the BCS Championship game.

Missouri could be in the running for the Sugar Bowl if it can win out against Ole Miss and Texas A&M to make it to the SEC Championship game. If the Tigers stayed close with the Crimson Tide, the Sugar Bowl could be willing to bring Mizzou to New Orleans.

Speaking of Texas A&M, the Aggies could win out against LSU and Missouri and finish second in the SEC West. That would make the Aggies a very attractive prospect for New Orleans and the Sugar Bowl, even with two losses.

Auburn could also play a big role in the Sugar Bowl discussion depending on what happens with the SEC East, Missouri, and Texas A&M. It’s possible that if Auburn loses to Alabama, and Missouri loses to Texas A&M, that the Aggies could jump Auburn, despite the Tigers beating the Aggies just a few weeks ago.

Luckily, the hypothetical scenarios will start to be clarified as early as this Saturday. If South Carolina beats Florida, all eyes focus on Missouri as the Tigers have to win out to go to Atlanta. If Missouri loses a game, South Carolina could head to Atlanta. If South Carolina loses, Missouri is all but guaranteed a shot at the SEC title.

All of it is a nice conundrum for conference officials to have heading into the final few weeks of the regular season.

Certainly to move a second team up into the BCS structure, there’s a significant payout for that as far as additional revenues are concerned,” said Mark Womack, the SEC’s executive associate commissioner and CEO.

The league is hoping it has the problem of trying to find a bowl site elsewhere if it has more than nine eligible teams beyond the BCS.

“We have teams that become very attractive teams to those bowls,” Womack said.

Now, the challenge is getting to them.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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