Everyone's doing it this time of year. In past seasons it was a little easier to figure out, but this year the SEC will actually place teams in bowls rather than bowls having choices from an ever diminishing pool based on their order of precedence. So we no longer get bowls that are "SEC #5 vs B1G #3" or some such.
AL.com has their four potential bowl destinations.
The mothership has their projection of Auburn to play Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl.
FoxSports.com also says the Outback, but against Minnesota.
Phil Steele says the Music City Bowl against Louisville, as does Jerry Palm at CBSSports.com.
SportingNews.com projects the TaxSlayer.com Bowl against Minnesota.
ESPN.com lists two possibilities based on their two "experts" Mark Schlabach and Brett McMurphy: against Nebraska in the Outback or Wisconsin in the BWW Citrus Bowl.
Finally, SI.com has a projection that would likely thrill our own Oscar Whiskey: against Texas in the Texas Bowl.
There are countless other projections out there about where the Tigers will land. I really have no idea which bowl the SEC may decide is the best to place Auburn. So, let's instead take a look at some of the potential opponents.
According to the above projections, the likely opponents in terms of my least desirable to most desirable are:
1) Wisconsin: Well, it's not as bad as Clemson. I want no part of Melvin Gordon after what Nick Chubb did to us, but there are other reasons behind my not wanting this match-up. Auburn played Wisconsin in the 2003 Music City Bowl and then again in the 2005 (NYD 2006) Capital One Bowl. Playing B1G teams can be fun, but I don't want to play one we've played twice in the last 15 years, even if it has been over a decade.
2) Louisville: I wouldn't be upset with this choice with the exception of the fact that we open the 2015 season with Louisville. Moreover, it would be the second season in a row for Louisville that they open the following season with the previous season's bowl opponent. The story-lines with Bobby Petrino and Auburn will get enough traffic before next season. I really don't want to deal with it for bowl season, then the entire off season. On top of that would be the story of Mike Dyer playing his old team. I would not discount the media pushing for the match-up just for that alone. The one upside to this match-up would be that the two teams have only faced each other one other time (Auburn victory, 1974), but that's far outweighed by Auburn starting 2015 against the Cardinals.
3) Nebraska: I would be OK with a game against the Cornhuskers. I do think Ameer Abdullah would be rather motivated to run hard against a home-state team that did not offer him out of high school, but that's a story-line I could live with hearing. Auburn last played Nebraska in the 2006 (NYD 2007) Cotton Bowl, a 17-14 Tiger victory that involved the most despondent Pat Summerall I've ever heard every time the Tigers did something positive. They are in an interesting situation with Bo Pelini's firing, and I wonder just how motivated those players are going to be. It could go plenty of different ways.
4) Texas: Auburn last played the Longhorns in 1991. The teams have played eight times in their history, with three of them 1925 or earlier, and the rest between 1974 and 1991. The 1974 game was the only time the two have matched up in a bowl game (Gator Bowl). Texas leads the series 5-3. The projection for this game is that it would be in Houston, so at first glace you would think it would end up as almost a home game for the Longhorns. They would probably bring a ton of fans, yes, and probably would outnumber the Tigers. However, Auburn has a big following in Texas and the fanbase travels well, so I don't think it would be a 90-10 split like you get at actual home games. Auburn would bring a crowd.
5) Minnesota: So why do I rank the Longhorns - a much more prominent team that would probably get us more national exposure - below Minnesota? Simply because we've played them eight times. Auburn has never played Minnesota in the history of the program. I love match-ups against teams we've never seen before. This is a B1G team with a good running attack and an interesting coach (Jerry Kill), and it would be a lot of fun to me. That's just me, though.
Others Receiving Votes: Notre Dame. Can we please, please, please get a game against Notre Dame? Auburn is the only team to win a national championship in the modern era (AP Poll) that Notre Dame has never played. It is a game that needs to happen. There are chances it could work out this season, albeit small ones. I really wish the SEC would look hard at trying to make that happen, though. It would be a lot of fun.
Plus we would hopefully get to destroy Brian VanGorder's defense, and the only thing that would make me happier than that would be if Georgia Southern received a bowl exemption and did it themselves.
So fine readers, what are your thoughts and desires on the potential bowl games and match-ups?