Well, well, well, what do we have here?
College football bowl season is coming up, and bowl projections have been flying all around about who goes where. Last night, we got a better picture of what the bowl games could be when the College Football Playoff rankings were released. And, what some Mississippi State fans may not realize, these rankings are helping the Bulldogs significantly in terms of their bowl bid.
Mississippi State was unranked in the College Football Playoff poll last week, bur after the thrilling 51-50 road victory over Arkansas Saturday night, the Bulldogs found themselves in the rankings at 21. The other SEC teams are Alabama (2), Florida (12), and Ole Miss (18).
There is one team on which you, presuming you're a Mississippi State fan, should keep a close eye: Florida. The Gators were 8th in the CFP rankings before Saturday's overtime victory over now 2-9 Florida Atlantic. Now, they dropped four spots to 12. Little do you know, that's monumental for Mississippi State. Why? The Sugar Bowl.
This season, as in years past, the SEC Champion gets an automatic bid to the Sugar Bowl. This season, the Sugar Bowl is not one of the two bowls in the College Football Playoff semifinals, and right now we are pretty much certain that Alabama will be the SEC champion and in the College Football Playoff. Well, if that's the case, that leaves the Sugar Bowl wide open.
So, who will take that spot? In the bowl selection rules, if the SEC champion is in the College Football Playoff, the highest ranked SEC team in the CFP poll that isn't in the top four will represent the conference in New Orleans. Well, right now, that's Florida. But, by the time bowl season rolls around, there is a very likely scenario in which that won't be the case.
The Gators' remaining schedule is 13th ranked Florida State, whose losses have come at the hands of a miracle play against Georgia Tech and a ten point loss to #1 Clemson, and (we're presuming) Alabama in the SEC Championship game. Right now, looking at their recent performances, those two games could be easy losses for the Gators.
So, why would Mississippi State be involved in this? Well, as of right now, Mississippi State is 21st, only nine spots behind Florida. If Florida does lose out, and Mississippi State defeats Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, the Bulldogs could surpass Florida in the final College Football Playoff poll and be the highest ranked SEC team not in the top four, which would give Mississippi State their first Sugar Bowl appearance in school history and their second straight "New Year's Six" bowl (Sugar, Orange, Rose, Fiesta, Cotton, Peach) appearance. Now, of course, the same could be said for Ole Miss if they win in Starkville, but we'll just pretend that's out of the picture.
Now, you may be wondering, if Mississippi State does make it to the Sugar Bowl, what would that do to the rest of the SEC? Well, more than likely, Florida would be selected for the Citrus Bowl, which has the first selection of SEC teams that doesn't make it to a New Year's Six bowl. After that, the rest of the bowls select their team. If Mississippi State wins the Egg Bowl, but Florida still gets the Sugar Bowl bid, expect the Bulldogs to be headed to the Citrus.
As of right now, I do believe that Mississippi State will win the Egg Bowl and Florida will lose out. I also firmly believe if that happens, Bulldog fans can get ready to party on Bourbon Street.
If you're wondering what my opinions are about the rest of the SEC and their bowl destinations (if my opinion matters to you), I have decided to put my SEC bowl projections down below. Make sure you know that these are based off of my predictions for the rest of the SEC season and how each team will fare this week.
Sugar: Mississippi State
Outback: Ole Miss
TaxSlayer Gator: LSU
Music City: Georgia
Texas: Texas A&M