The Road to the College Football Playoffs Starts on Saturday


Oct 11, 2014; Waco, TX, USA; A view of the college football playoff national championship trophy before the game between the Baylor Bears and the TCU Horned Frogs at McLane Stadium. The Bears defeat Horned Frogs 61-58. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

I never thought I’d be writing an article legitimately discussing Mississippi State in the inaugural College Football Playoffs, but here I am.

To be sure, there is a long way to go. Only half of the regular season has been played….and if State wants to make the CFB Playoffs there’s another game in Atlanta we want to be apart of in addition to that.

For me, the dream has always been a SEC championship. I thought, maybe we could slip into a West title with a 6-2 record and win a tie-breaker like we did in 1998….then win in Atlanta to be champs of the best conference. That would still be amazing to have happen for sure, but at 6-0 with the #1 ranking and a résumé full of dominating victories, the goals are all right out there for MSU.

We’ve had a bye week to celebrate and rest, now the road is clearly defined. One game at a time, Kentucky is up first. The major obstacles are undeniable though – road trips to Tuscaloosa and Oxford; but certainly UK, Arkansas and even Vanderbilt would like to have their say in Mississippi State’s future…and those will be no easy games.

Many pundits have claimed their belief that only one team per conference will get into the playoff, leaving one conference out – perhaps two if Notre Dame makes it. I really don’t know how two teams from the SEC are not going to make it in. With four of the current AP top five and five of the top 10 coming from the SEC, it seems undeniable barring a major collapse.

The way I see it – the race is double elimination for the following SEC teams:

  1. Mississippi State
  2. Ole Miss
  3. Auburn
  4. Alabama
  5. Georgia

Auburn, Alabama and Georgia all have one loss. One more and they are out (barring really really unusual circumstances). The only way I see a team from the SEC having one less and not making it into the playoff is if there are three one-loss teams; likely meaning UGA won the SEC championship.

Those five teams play each other five more times:

  • Nov. 1st: Auburn at Ole Miss
  • Nov. 15th: Mississippi State at Alabama
  • Nov. 15th: Auburn at Georgia
  • Nov. 29th: Mississippi State at Ole Miss
  • Nov. 29th: Auburn at Alabama

Auburn clearly has the toughest road. They play more of these games than any other (3), and they are all on the road.

Mississippi State has the second toughest road with games away from home against Bama and Ole Miss.

Ole Miss and Alabama get to host Auburn and MSU. They do, however, have to play LSU – who State and Auburn have already disposed of. The Tigers will have something to say about this. They host Ole Miss this week and Alabama in two weeks – both games under the lights.

Georgia, being in the East, has the easiest road. Assuming they can take care of business against Florida, Kentucky and Georgia Tech, their game in Athens against Auburn is like a semi-final to get into the playoff, with the SEC Championship Game as the final.

MSU and Ole Miss are sitting in the winner’s bracket right now. Keep winning and there’s nothing to worry about. Lose one and you’re still in, but you’re just one loss away from being out. Both teams need to pull for Georgia to lose another game before the SEC championship, so that if an undefeated Egg Bowl does really happen, the loser won’t been thrown completely out of the playoff picture if UGA were to win the SEC (therefore, forcing them to root for their rival in Atlanta).

It’s going to be a wild ride. Those games listed above, and the ones against LSU are going to be incredible to watch. All the other games that fill in between will have major significance as well, and you never know who will slip up – this is college football after all.