Alabama's victory over Missouri in the SEC Championship Game should shore up the ACC's bowl lineup this year. Since the Crimson Tide clinched a spot in this year's College Football Playoff field, the highest ranked, non-champ from either the Big Ten or SEC will now almost certainly go to Michigan State (#8), or Ohio State (#6), with a loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game.
Here are the penultimate College Football Playoff rankings, released on Tuesday:
1. Alabama Crimson Tide 12-1
2. Oregon Ducks 12-1
3. TCU Horned Frogs 11-1
4. Florida State Seminoles 12-0
5. Ohio State Buckeyes 11-1
6. Baylor Bears 10-1
7. Arizona Wildcats 10-3
8. Michigan St. Spartans 10-2
9. Kansas St. Wildcats 9-2
10. Mississippi St. Bulldogs 10-2
11. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 10-2
12. Ole Miss Rebels 9-3
13. Wisconsin Badgers 10-2
I can't see idle Mississippi State (#10) or Ole Miss (#12) jumping either idle Michigan State (#8) or Michigan State AND Ohio State (#5) (with a loss tonight) when the final College Football Playoff rankings are released tomorrow. The only scenario I could see the committee elevating Mississippi State above Michigan State is if it was so impressed with Alabama's victory over Missouri that they elevate Mississippi State (#10), which lost to Alabama, two spots ahead of Michigan State (Mississippi State did not face Missouri this year). Seems unlikely. Then again, so does ranking the nation's only unbeaten team from a power conference fourth.
[Though if the committee decides to go down this route, they might also look at Michigan State's 56-17 victory at Indiana. The Hoosiers beat SEC East champ Missouri, at Missouri, back on September 20.]
So, if Michigan State holds off Mississippi State and a Big Ten team goes to the Orange Bowl, the ACC replaces the Big Ten in the Citrus Bowl.
An ACC slot in the Citrus Bowl gives the conference the exact number of bowl slots needed to send all 12 teams, including Notre Dame, to an ACC affiliated bowl game this year. That's very important, particularly this year, as there are more bowl-eligible teams than slots this year and no replacement slots for teams from other conferences. In other words, a few teams are going to be disappointed they are left home this season.
Best guess as to how things shake out tomorrow:
Florida State is locked into a New Year's Six bowl win or lose tonight. A loss would likely send the Seminoles to one of the other selection committee bowl games as an at-large (Peach? Fiesta?), while a win has to put Florida State in the College Football Playoff. Georgia Tech is in the Orange Bowl win or loss—a win as the ACC champ and a loss as Florida State's replacement.
That leaves 10 teams for 10 slots. Clemson is the most oft-rumored ACC team to play in the Citrus Bowl. I've got to think that the Russell Athletic Bowl then takes Louisville over Duke with the ACC's #3 selection.
There's this, but I'm not giving up on BC landing in New York and Duke heading west quiet yet. Notre Dame makes the most sense for the Music City Bowl, opposite Georgia, while the Belk will be happy to take yet another ACC team from Carolina for the fourth and final Tier I spot.
The "Tier II" bowl selection goes, in order, Military, Independence, Quick Lane and BITCOIN. Virginia Tech seems pretty locked into the Military, which would preclude a Virginia Tech-ECU rematch. Go ahead and slot Cincinnati here. A Miami-Florida Independence Bowl would make for a fun atmosphere in Shreveport.
That leaves Pitt and North Carolina to roshambo for the final two spots. Illinois is the most likely Big Ten team for the Quick Lane Bowl and North Carolina faces the Illini in week 3 next season. My guess is the bowl avoids a rematch of an early 2015 game and sends Pitt back to Detroit to face Illinois. By process of elimination, North Carolina takes the BITCOIN Bowl berth, with the Heels paired with the local-ish AAC option Central Florida.
We will find out shortly.
* The Pac-12 bowl lineup is the biggest wildcard heading into tomorrow's bowl game reveal. Much depends on Arizona staying in the top 11 and earning a Fiesta Bowl invite, which, after last night's 51-13 Duck thrashing, is no longer a sure thing. If Arizona doesn't receive an at-large to a selection committee bowl game, the whole Pac-12 bowl lineup could be reshuffled.