The SEC bowl picture, especially in the West, seemed so clear-cut. The Florida/Alabama loser would go to the Sugar, LSU would go Cap One and Auburn would go Cotton. After Ole Miss first rallied, then hung on to beat LSU 25-23 on Saturday, that's no longer so clear-cut. Who really stands out for the honor of the Capital One Bowl, the conference's top non-BCS prize? LSU could still get it, but Ole Miss now has a case. And regardless, what SEC West team does the Cotton Bowl take. Here too, the Rebels have a very good case to go ahead of Auburn, even though that doubtless worries organizers in Dallas, who had Ole Miss last year.
And with LSU now sitting on three losses, that's opened the door for Arkansas, who is at 7-4 after beating Mississippi State 42-21 behind five touchdowns and over 300 yards passing from Ryan Mallett. Arkansas plays LSU this Saturday and a Hog victory could certainly put then in line for Dallas, and perhaps even New Year's in Orlando. And another big game by Mallett could get him this site's vote for SEC MVP. He makes a few too many mistakes to be Heisman material, but like Jimmy Clausen, he is virtually the sole reason his team is at where it's at. Mark Ingram or Tim Tebow will win the award, but Mallett is easily more deserving than Tebow. We'll wait until next Saturday to make a verdict on him vs. Ingram.
The Cotton Bowl also surely had its eye on Oklahoma to be its Big 12 team. But the Sooners lost again, in stunning blowout fashion to Texas Tech 41-13. At 6-5, the Sooners are sliding down the ladder and Oklahoma State may be sliding into the BCS, after surviving Colorado on Thursday night. Missouri beat Iowa State behind a big game from Blaine Gabbert and could get the nod for the Big 12's best second-tier bowl, or it could be Nebraska, presuming a loss in the conference championship game. We know it won't be Texas A&M, but we still salute Aggie coach Mike Sherman for returning this program to bowl eligiblity after a 38-3 thrashing of Baylor.