The case for State (if Dogs beat the Rebs)
This blog should be titled: The Case for Mississippi State (if the Bulldogs beat Ole Miss).
I write it because there seems growing sentiment around the country that the selection committee for the new playoff system should replace No. 4 Mississippi State with either a) Ohio State, b) TCU or c) Baylor.
Just Sunday, CBSsports.com released its power ratings, dropping State to No. 5 behind Ohio State. This happened after State demolished Vanderbilt 51-0 and Ohio State came from behind at home to defeat Indiana 42-27. Hard to figure, is it not? Especially when Ohio State’s one loss was at home by 14 points to 5-6 Virginia Tech and State’s one loss was on the road, by five points, to No. 1 ranked Alabama.
I mean, what am I missing?
Many insist on criticizing State’s non-conference schedule, which included Southern Miss, UAB, South Alabama and Tennessee-Martin. Admittedly, that’s not exactly a murderer’s row.
But what’s more important: four non-conference games or eight league games?
If State defeats Ole Miss — a big if — then the Bulldogs will have finished 7-1 in by far the toughest division of the best conference in the nation. Every team in in the SEC West has a winning record. Every team in the SEC West will go to a bowl. If State beats Ole Miss, the Bulldogs will have defeated four teams that were ranked in the Top 25 when the Bulldogs played them. They already have beaten three teams that were ranked in the Top 10 when they played them. They beat those teams in consecutive weeks.
The playoffs selection committee has the stated mission of picking the best four teams in the country to play in the four-team tournament. State has been in the top four (either No. 1 or No. 4) since the committee began voting. I see nothing that should change that unless State loses to Ole Miss.
I would argue that State’s one defeat — at Alabama — should count in State’s favor, not against. The Bulldogs lost by five, despite losing the turnovers 3-0. The Bulldogs out-gained the Tide almost 3 to 2.
Picking four teams for the playoffs is an inexact science, to be sure. Eight would be better. And if we get eight, people will clamor for 16, which may be where we’re headed.
That’s a matter for another day.
My point today: If State beats Ole Miss, then State should be in the four-team playoff for the national championship.
Unless, of course, Alabama loses to Auburn, then State plays in the SEC Championship game and gets blown out by Georgia or Missouri, which won’t happen.
It’s enough to make you dizzy. But you get my point, right?
And it all adds to the intrigue of Saturday’s Egg Bowl. State has never played the Egg Bowl for higher stakes than this. Ole Miss is playing for a much better bowl bid and a chance to deny arch-rival State such high stakes.
This isn’t exactly the Egg Bowl we were hoping for when both Ole Miss and State were undefeated and ranked in the top three. But it’s the best we’ve had in a long, long time.