With the win over in-state rival Mississippi State, Ole Miss Football has won 10 regular-season games for the first time in school history. The Rebels will now await their fate in which postseason bowl game will cap off their historical year.
For those not familiar with the way the college football postseason, here’s a quick breakdown of how it plays out.
After the completion of the regular season, 82 teams with at least six wins are awarded the honor of receiving an invite to play in one of the 41 postseason bowl games. The top four teams are awarded a spot in the College Football Playoff where the winner of this playoff is crowned the National Champion.
Of the 41 bowl games played, there are six that stand out as the top-tier postseason games. The best teams that are left out of the playoff are awarded an invite to play in four of these six games. These games are played on either Dec. 31 or Jan. 1, giving them the title; “New Year’s Six.”
So, where should Rebel fans expect to see their team in the postseason?
Ole Miss finished its regular season second in the SEC West and third overall in the SEC. Although its chances of making the College Football Playoff are all but none, the Rebels are locked in for a New Year’s Six bowl for just the third time in the modern playoff era.
Each year, two of the New Year’s Six bowls are chosen as the designated playoff bowl games. This year, the two playoff games are the Cotton Bowl and the Orange Bowl. With the two playoff games set aside, there are four New Year’s Six games left open for an invitation: The Fiesta Bowl, the Peach Bowl, the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl.
Some New Year’s Six bowl games have conference “Tie-ins.” This means that some New Year’s Six games are designated to be played by the best teams out of a certain conference.
With the Cotton and Orange Bowls set aside as playoff games, the only games with tie-ins this year are the Sugar Bowl and the Rose Bowl. The Sugar Bowl is designated for the best Big-12 and SEC team that was left out of the playoff, and the Rose Bowl is designated for the best Big Ten and Pac-12 team left out of the playoff.
With this in place, Ole Miss can only be invited to either the Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl or the Peach Bowl. Being that the Sugar Bowl hosts the best SEC team that is not in the playoff, the Sugar Bowl is the top bowl that Ole Miss could be invited to.
In order for Ole Miss to make the Sugar Bowl, it would need both Alabama and Georgia to make the playoff, being that Ole Miss finished behind the two in the SEC standings. For this to happen, Alabama will need to beat Georgia in the SEC championship game this Saturday.
To sum it all up, if Alabama beats Georgia on Saturday, Ole Miss will play in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Dec. 31. If Georgia beats Alabama, Ole Miss will play in either the Fiesta Bowl, which is played in Glendale, Arizona, on Jan. 1, or the Peach Bowl, which is played in Atlanta on Dec. 30.
That is all of the known information on where Ole Miss will end up playing. The rest is up for speculation. However, one can go look into the postseason situation a little more and get a better sense of what is about to happen.
Certainly anything can happen in college football, so all of what I am about to say could all end up being complete nonsense. But from someone who follows the ins and outs of sport all season, here is what I think will most likely happen.
The odds of Alabama beating Georgia are pretty slim, and if you ask me, they are extremely slim. Either way, not many people expect Alabama to win and it would be a pretty big shock in the world of college football if they did. The odds of Ole Miss playing in New Orleans in the Sugar Bowl are quite low. Rebel fans should expect to play in the Fiesta or Peach Bowl.
As far as who Ole Miss will play: This is the fun part. Regardless of where Ole Miss will play, it will get an opportunity to show what it can do against one of the best teams in the country and potentially one of college football’s blue bloods.
If Alabama beats Georgia in the SEC championship game, Ole Miss will play in the Sugar Bowl against either Baylor or Oklahoma State.
Baylor and Oklahoma State play in the Big-12 championship game on Saturday. If Oklahoma State wins, they have a very good shot at getting into the college football playoff as long as Alabama loses. If Alabama wins, Oklahoma State will likely be left out of the playoff, and they will play in the Sugar Bowl. Baylor has next to no shot of getting in the playoff, so even if they do beat Oklahoma State on Saturday, they will still be playing in the Sugar Bowl.
If the rest of the conference championship games play out as they are predicted to, Ole Miss will play in either the Fiesta Bowl or the Peach Bowl against either Ohio State or Michigan State. Here is why:
When you look at the list of the teams who will most likely be left out of the playoff but are still in New Year’s Six contention, you will see Ole Miss, Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Oregon. Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State are all in the Big Ten, and being that Iowa made the Big Ten championship game ahead of Ohio State and Michigan State, they will get the Rose Bowl tie-in. Oregon won’t be considered for the playoff but is the best team in the Pac-12, so they will also get the Rose Bowl tie-in.
This leaves Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Ohio State and Michigan State left to play in either the Fiesta or Peach Bowl. The committee will not put two teams in the same conference in a bowl game against each other, so that means Ohio State and Michigan State won’t play each other and that Ole Miss and Notre Dame will play either of the two.
Again, I could be wrong about what I am about to say, but the way the committee has functioned in the past makes me feel this way:
Michigan State and Notre Dame used to be a classic rivalry game that was played every year, but recently the two schools stopped scheduling each other. The committee is likely to put these two teams together to face off once again. Ole Miss and Ohio State are two of the most entertaining teams to watch in all of college football, and the committee knows that if these two play against each other, it will be one of the most-watched games of the year.
Although the Peach Bowl no longer has a conference tie-in, it used to always have the SEC as one of its teams. The Peach Bowl administrators still have a close connection to the SEC, and they’re going to do whatever they can to get Ole Miss in that game.
So, with everything considered and assuming that all of the conference championship games play out the way they probably will, the most likely scenario for Ole Miss this postseason is to play Ohio State in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 30 in Atlanta, Georgia.
The committee will release where everyone will be playing this Sunday, Dec. 5.