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Can the Gators find a way to get to 6-6?
With just three weeks left in the regular season, the SEC has nine bowl-eligible teams. And the conference could add to that total if Tennessee wins its final two games, and if Florida or Mississippi State can get to six victories.
Florida has been one of the biggest disappointments in the SEC this year. The Gators have been dealing with a rash of injuries, but this program recruits at a high level and a 5-7 mark should never happen in Gainesville.
Mississippi State is one of the SEC’s toughest jobs, but coach Dan Mullen has guided the Bulldogs to three consecutive bowl games.
However, with two games remaining, Mississippi State’s postseason streak is in jeopardy. The Bulldogs are favored to beat Arkansas but have to play rival Ole Miss in the season finale.
Will Florida and Mississippi State get bowl eligible in 2013?
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
No, I don’t think either team will get bowl eligible. It seems odd to have this conversation about Florida, especially at the level that this program recruits. However, the Gators have experienced a rash of injuries this year, and rival Florida State is clearly one of the top-two teams in the nation. Florida will get by Georgia Southern, but it will take a miracle to beat the Seminoles. Mississippi State has a better chance to reach the six-win mark than Florida. The Bulldogs are a slight favorite over Arkansas and host rival Ole Miss in the finale. Mississippi State has won four in a row at home against the Rebels, but I think Ole Miss will break that streak this season. The Bulldogs have a better chance than Florida to get to the six-win mark. However, I think both teams come up short this season.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
To quote a great movie, I will say "erroneous, on both counts." The Gators argument is easy — Florida has to beat No. 2 Florida State. And unless Jameis Winston — and every member of the starting defense — gets suspended, that won't happen. The Seminoles are in no danger of losing in Gainesville and therefore the Gators finish 5-7 and out of the postseason. The Bulldogs of Starkville are in a slightly better situation as Arkansas in Little Rock and Mississippi at home are both winnable games for Dan Mullen. State, generally under Mullen, has won games they are supposed to and lost games across the board as underdogs. Anything can happen in a historic rivalry like the Egg Bowl, especially at home for MSU, but Ole Miss will be a solid favorite to win that game. A split to finish the year doesn't get Hail State into the postseason, so I will say no on both counts.
If either has a shot, it's Mississippi State, but I'm not convinced it's going to happen. Both teams are 4-6 with two games left, meaning six wins is a possibility, but not a reality, certainly for the Gators. Let's face it, if Florida loses Saturday at home to Georgia Southern then Will Muschamp may as well just go ahead and pack up his office belongings as soon as the game is over. Either way, I have a hard time seeing this Gators team beating Florida State the following week, as the Seminoles have their eyes firmly fixed on getting to the BCS National Championship Game and have Idaho (1-9) as a warm up. That leaves us with Mississippi State. The Bulldogs should get their fifth win with relative ease, even on the road at Arkansas, meaning their postseason fate will come down to the Egg Bowl. The game's in Starkville, but Ole Miss is a top-25 team (at least this week) and has three more wins than the Rebels. Hugh Freeze beat Dan Mullen in their first head-to-head meeting last season and unfortunately, I see a similar result coming next week. Sorry Mississippi State fans, I don't see a bowl bid being part of your Thanksgiving feast this season.
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
No and no. The only question will be the kind of pressure both coaches will be under if and when both teams miss a bowl. Despite the close game with South Carolina, Florida losing to Georgia Southern is a more likely outcome than the Gators reaching a bowl game. At least Mississippi State faces the worst team in the SEC (Arkansas) and then gets its top rival at home. The finale against Ole Miss is going to be huge for Mississippi State and not just because of bowl implications. Dan Mullen still has never won a game against a major opponent, and I think we can call Ole Miss, with seven wins and all the program momentum, a major opponent for Mullen. I understand Mississippi State wants more out of its football program, but going to bowls every year is good for Mississippi State, especially in the gauntlet of the SEC West these days. If Mullen stops making bowl games, he’s going to be in trouble.
Josh Ward, (@Josh_Ward), Mr. SEC
I’ll start with Florida. The answer there is a quick no. Florida should take care of business against Georgia Southern on Saturday, but Florida State is a different animal. The Seminoles will be too much for Florida even with the game being played in Gainesville. Florida State has too much talent and depth for Florida to be able to pull off the upset, which will leave Florida with its first losing record since 1979. Mississippi State has a realistic opportunity to reach the postseason. The Bulldogs are a slight favorite to beat Arkansas this week, although it won’t be easy to do in Little Rock. The Ole Miss game will be the biggest test for Mississippi State. Ole Miss handled Mississippi State 41-24 in Oxford last year. Can the Bulldogs get revenge this season? In the end, I’ll say no. Both teams should be able to score on each other. I’ll take Hugh Freeze’s group at Ole Miss to put up more points than Mississippi State and keep the Bulldogs out of the postseason for only the second time under Dan Mullen.