SEC Report: Conference won’t be able to fill all of its bowl contracts this season

The SEC is assured of not being able to fill its 10 bowl contracts this season.

That is not all bad. One reason for the shortfall is the likelihood that the conference will place two teams in BCS bowls. However, it also is a result of struggling teams like Florida (4-7).

The Gators, Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas are eliminated from bowl eligibility. Mississippi State needs to beat Ole Miss on Thursday to reach 6-6 and earn a trip to the postseason.

There was a way for Florida and Tennessee to reach bowl eligibility without eliminating other teams, but the Gators and Volunteers were unable to do so.

If the Bulldogs do not sneak in, the conference likely will not have a team available to send to the BBVA Compass and Advocare V100 Bowls.

Alabama's reign: Despite a somewhat quiet start to the season, the Crimson Tide now stands near the top of all significant stat categories in the SEC.

Alabama is first in scoring differential at 30.5 points per game. It is tied with Missouri for second in points scored (437) and is the decisive No. 1 in points allowed (102). The Crimson Tide’s 9.3 points allowed per game is 10 better than second-place Missouri.

Division finales: The SEC Eastern and Western Divisions are in elimination week.

The West picture is clear: Alabama (7-0) and Auburn (6-1) will play each other in what is essentially a division championship game. The winner of Saturday’s Iron Bowl (3:30 p.m., CBS) will go to the SEC title game.

In the East, Missouri (6-1) can clinch its first division championship in the SEC by winning at home against Texas A&M (7:45 p.m., ESPN). If the Tigers fall, the division goes to South Carolina (6-2).

Florida outlier: Defense usually wins in the SEC, although that is untrue for the Gators this year.

Of the top six teams in the conference in fewest points allowed, UF is the only one with a losing record at 4-7. The other five teams in that group are a combined 48-7.

Player of the Year: It would take a lot to knock off Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel as the top player in the SEC this season, and it does not look like any of his rivals have the numbers to do it.

Manziel, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, is first in the conference in total offense at 382 yards per game. That number is the best by any player in a major conference. He is averaging 321.5 throwing and 60.5 rushing (includes deductions for yardage lost on sacks).

Manziel has completed 69.1 percent of his attempts and has 32 touchdowns passes against 13 interceptions. With him at quarterback, the Aggies are No. 4 nationally in total offense and No. 6 in scoring offense.