Last night the College Football Playoff Committee released its latest rankings with our Mississippi State Bulldogs dropping from fourth to 10th after losing the Egg Bowl. Since that loss, we've seen speculation that the Dogs will land anywhere from the Cotton Bowl to the Orange Bowl and in between this bowl season, but things may have (hopefully) cleared up a bit more last night.
No. 8 Michigan State ahead of No. 10 Mississippi State means Spartans likely headed to Orange vs. ACC— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) December 3, 2014
As Brett states, the Spartans are now ranked ahead of Mississippi State, which may mean that State will now be pushed to the Peach Bowl. Why is this, you may ask? This SBNation post from last summer helps clear it up a bit:
- The two Playoff bowls (in 2014, it's the Rose and Sugar) get the top four teams. The No. 1 seed gets a semblance of home-field advantage, going to the more geographically advantageous game.
- After that, the remaining four New Year's bowls (this year, the Cotton, Fiesta, Orange, and Peach) fill in according to the rest of the rankings -- with adjustments made for each bowl's conference ties.
- When not a Playoff game, the Rose gets the best Big Ten and Pac-12 teams. The Sugar gets the same for the SEC and Big 12. The Orange gets the ACC and the best team from among a specific cluster. The Cotton, Fiesta, and Peach have no ties.
- Last rule: the highest-ranked mid-major is guaranteed a spot in one of those last three bowls.
- Oh, and all of this is decided by a selection committee.
In summary, the Orange Bowl gets the highest non-playoff ACC team (Georgia Tech, most likely) versus the highest rated non-conference championship team from these groups: Big Ten, SEC, and Notre Dame. Assuming no major shakeups in last night's rankings, that would mean Michigan State will finish ahead of Mississippi State, elbowing the Bulldogs out of their first trip to South Beach for a bowl game since the 40s.
Where does that leave MSU then? Right now, things seem to be pointing State towards the Peach Bowl or the Cotton Bowl. The Peach works geographically for the Bulldogs, and with a top ten ranking all but sewed up, they should be guaranteed a "New Year's Bowl" after a 10 win season. The Fiesta is likely out due to geography, plus there are already two worthy candidates in Boise State and Arizona should Boise win and Arizona lose on Saturday. Baylor would be a perfect fit for the Cotton if they miss out on the top four (shout out to that PR firm!), and the same could be said for TCU if they are somehow bumped from their current ranking of third. That does leave a vacancy in the Cotton against one of those two teams, so keep an eye on that as a possible destination as well for State.
As for opponents, I've seen a few different names, but this one is really, really intriguing: Ohio State, should State play in the Peach. Dan Mullen getting a shot at his mentor and the Dogs getting a chance to play a major program outside of the SEC? I would take that all day. If it's Cotton for the Dogs, I have to say that I'm a little less enthused about a matchup with Baylor's passing game. But, either would be a fun bowl destination and a chance to see how we stack up with some of the bigger names this year outside of our own conference.
I know it doesn't hold the appeal that an original bowl game like the Orange does, but I've been rooting for the Peach all along given the ease in travel. An Atlanta bowl would definitely mean a good contingency of MSU fans making the trip, as might the Cotton. Both are easier trips than the Orange, even if they don't hold as much appeal to some people.
Things can always shake up between now and Sunday, but for now, one of those two bowls look very promising. We will keep you informed as the week goes on and things become more clear for the maroon and white's postseason destination.