Sugar Bowl (#1-#4)- Mississippi State vs. Baylor
Two teams that were afterthoughts in their respective conferences as recently as five years ago square off in the first national semifinal. In college football, coaches have to be both general manager and head coach, effectively making Dan Mullen the Billy Beane of the SEC. Mississippi State has one of the lowest football budgets of any power conference school, and yet Dan Mullen has found enough gems in recruiting to take over the number one spot unanimously. Meanwhile, Baylor is also embracing the less is more approach, with the second lowest spending total in the top 10. Art Briles’ offense and Robert Griffin III’s recent Heisman campaign have brought some publicity and helped get Baylor a new stadium.
Rose Bowl (#2-#3)- Ole Miss vs. Florida State
The Rebels crack the playoff spots this week after a second consecutive SEC West win over a top 25 team. This time they went on the road to do it. They may have the best defense in the SEC, and one of the few teams talented enough defensively to contain Famous Jameis Winston. If Winston can stay on the field, Florida State is still one of the four best teams in the country, but they will need to show up at home against the Fighting Irish on Saturday to keep their playoff spot.
Orange Bowl- Auburn vs. Oklahoma
Bob Stoops hates the SEC almost as much as Alabama and West Virginia fans hate the Gay Muslim overlord, Clay Travis. He snapped a 3-game losing to the SEC with last season’s Sugar Bowl win over Alabama, and started a streak of his own this season by beating Tennessee. Not giving him an opportunity to play the SEC in a bowl game almost seems cruel. Auburn is by no means out of the playoff race, but for now they drop down here after playing sloppy and dropping a game to Danny Boy and the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Fiesta Bowl- Notre Dame vs. Michigan State
This rivalry was put on hold until 2016, in part because of Notre Dame’s new ACC agreement. It seems like one of those “compelling matchups” the selection committee is supposed to be providing us to renew an old rivalry a couple of years early. One of the most famous meetings between these two teams was the infamous “Game of the Century” time in 1966 that ensured both teams a share of the Natty, despite Alabama being undefeated AND untied that season. Lou Holtz would chastise me for criticizing the 1966 poll voters though, and I don’t want to get Dr. Lou’s heart rate up too high.
Cotton Bowl- TCU vs. Oregon
TCU stays close to home, yet again, in this week’s “Playoff Picture” despite losing to Baylor on Saturday. Apparently, I thought a little too highly of Gary Patterson’s “spread buster” defense. I’m a man of second chances though, so let’s give them another crack against an elite offense led by one of the best QBs in the nation. It’s hard for anyone to predict two football teams scoring 119 points in a football game, but lightning does strike twice and these two teams are certainly capable of replicating the fireworks from last week’s shootout in Waco.
Peach Bowl- Georgia vs. ECU
ECU retains their obligatory Peach Bowl spot, and I can say from experience that the Dawgs travel well to Atlanta. This matchup is somewhat interesting, because I don’t believe the Pirates have the manpower up front to stop the Dawgs from going full Chubb in the rushing attack, or hopefully get a steady dose of Gurley, Michel, and Marshall in there too (fingers crossed). However, Shane Carden would also have a field day with a Georgia secondary that has been ravaged by STDs (Suspensions, Transfers, and Dismissals you perverts). On paper, this looks average, but in reality it could get exciting.
Teams Who Can Play Their Way In
Alabama– Alabama had a chance to play their way in last week, but despite winning they looked exceptionally vulnerable. A win over Texas A&M in what is, by all accounts, a terrible matchup for them should bump them up.
Oklahoma State– OSU has only one loss, and it was a close one to Florida State. However, they don’t have any truly impressive wins yet either. Going on the road and beating TCU this weekend would be the impressive win they are looking for though.
Kansas State– Much like Oklahoma State, Kansas State only has one loss and it was to a potential playoff team, Auburn. However, they also like a truly impressive win, but have a chance to change that when they travel to Oklahoma this weekend. #FreeSnydersPullovers!