Does MSU Have a Chance to Play in the Sugar Bowl?


If things break right this weekend and in the SEC Championship, Mississippi State could find themselves playing in a New Year’s Six Bowl this year.

There has been some speculation that a 9-3 MSU team could play in the Sugar Bowl – so is it true? The Bulldogs have found their way into the top two or three in many sets of SEC power rankings, and if they beat Ole Miss on Saturday the College Football Playoff Committee will likely place them there as well.

The logic is simple:

  • MSU should be ranked in this week’s CFB playoff poll – maybe in the 20-23 range
  • Ole Miss will be ranked in this week’s CFB playoff poll – maybe in the 17-20 range
  • If MSU beats Ole Miss they should jump to the 15-18 range of next week’s CFB playoff poll
  • Florida hasn’t looked good all month so they should be ranked around 10th this week
  • If Florida loses to Florida State this week they should drop to the 13-15 range
  • If Florida gets pounded by Alabama in the SEC Championship they should fall to the 16-20 range

So if those things happen, State could find themselves just ahead of Florida in the selection committee’s final rankings. If for nothing else, the fact that MSU finished the year 3-1 while Florida almost lost to Vandy, South Carolina and Florida Atlantic before actually losing when they faced good teams.

The SEC has a contract with the Sugar Bowl so if State is the 2nd highest ranked team from the conference they are in with Alabama going to the CFB playoffs, right?

Here’s what the official College Football Playoff website says:

"All conferences negotiated individual bowl contracts for their champions. Five conferences have arranged contracts for their champions to play in New Year’s bowl games — Atlantic Coast (Orange), Big Ten (Rose), Big 12 (Sugar), Pac-12 (Rose), and Southeastern (Sugar).When the Cotton, Fiesta and Peach bowls are not hosting semifinal games, their participants will come from three pools: (1) The highest ranked champion among the [group of five] conferences, (2) conference champions that are displaced when their contracted bowls host semifinals and (3) the remaining teams ranked highest in the committee’s rankings.The committee will assign teams to the non-playoff bowls to create the most compelling matchups, while considering other factors such as geographic proximity, avoiding rematches of regular-season games and avoiding rematches of recent years’ bowl games."

At first it says “champions”, and in such case MSU would not be one. But then it goes on to say Cotton, Fiesta and Peach – leaving out the contracted bowls: Rose, Sugar and Orange.

Also, the Sugar is in a geographic proximity to Starkville, Mississippi so it would make sense to send the Bulldogs there.

Add in Dak Prescott’s final game and you’ve got a compelling reason to put MSU in the Sugar Bowl.

Last year Georgia Tech did not win the ACC but landed in the Orange Bowl as the #12 team. Most likely State would not be that high, but it won’t matter. The selection committee will have to choose the 2nd SEC team with Alabama in the playoff. And that could be Mississippi State if Florida falters.