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2011 Bowl Projections: Alabama Favored By Pundits To Beat LSU In 'Play-In' Game

SB Nation's college football mothership has broken down four major bowl projections, and three out of four prognosticators trying helplessly to guess at BBVA Compass Bowl agree: Alabama will beat LSU this Saturday and "advance" to the BCS National Championship on January 10 (Oklahoma State is the favorite opponent this week, but Stanford looms). 

There's absolutely no doubt among the projections that the game's loser will fall to the Sugar Bowl as an at-large - if a re-match scenario can't take place, of course (tip of the tinfoil hat to the SEC loyalist). Because of the current rule prohibiting one conference from sending more than two teams to the BCS, Arkansas is screwed, and if an Eastern Division winner were to pull a miracle upset in Atlanta, either the Tigers or Tide as well. 

Everything after the Bama/LSU consensus is cloudy - the SEC's top non-BCS bowl is the Capital One, which usually takes the SEC Championship's loser, but given the Hogs' dominance relative to the entire east, Phil Steele, ESPN's Mark Schlabach and Scout have the Hogs in Orlando. 

While Georgia has been red hot since starting 0-2, they've still yet to catch South Carolina in the Eastern Division with only two conference games (Arkansas, Florida) left for the Gamecocks. The most common assumption is that USC drops one or both games, and UGA is able to beat Auburn and Kentucky, pushing to Cocks to the Outback Bowl against either Nebraska or Penn State.

So where's Georgia in all this? If the Hogs finish with only a loss to LSU and Dawgs win the East but lose in Atlanta, most pundits assume the bowls will favor geography over conference standings, and put Georgia in the Cap One and Arkansas in its backyard at Jerryworld.

The mid-tier is a clearer picture - Auburn to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and Florida to the Gator. As for the bottom? Shuffle Mississippi State, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt randomly among the Liberty, Music City and BBVA Compass (Birmingham).

For more on bowl projections, visit SB Nation's college football news hub.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.