Michigan State (#8) hopped Mississippi State (#10) in this week's College Football Playoff rankings, likely sending Sparty to the Orange Bowl opposite the ACC champ (or representative).
Both Michigan State and Mississippi State are idle this week, so only a few outcomes could potentially dislodge a Big Ten team from making an Orange Bowl appearance:
– Missouri upsets Alabama in the SEC Championship Game and the Crimson Tide fall out of the top 4 (which at this point, I'm guessing is unlikely), but stay ranked ahead of Ohio State (#5) and Michigan State (#8)
– Wisconsin upsets Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game and Ohio State (#5), Michigan State (#8) and Wisconsin (#13) all finish below one of Mississippi State (#10), Ole Miss (#12) and Missouri (#16)
Basically, it looks like Michigan State, not Mississippi State, will be the ACC's opponent in the Orange Bowl. That's most welcome news for the conference, which likely needs a 12th bowl game to send all 11 (and Notre Dame) bowl-eligible teams from the conference to bowl games this year. Here's why:
The highest-ranked available team in the final College Football Playoff rankings out of Notre Dame, the Big Ten or the SEC will face the ACC champion in the Orange Bowl. When the ACC faces a team from the Big Ten in the Orange Bowl, that opens up another bowl slot for the ACC in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. The ACC then slots in for the Big Ten and faces an SEC opponent on January 1.
So if Florida State and Georgia Tech are locked into the College Football Playoff / New Year's Six regardless of the ACC Championship Game outcome—which, despite FSU getting dropped to #4 this week, seems like a safe assumption—the conference just picked up the last bowl slot they needed to send all of its bowl-eligible teams to ACC-affiliated bowl games.
With the Citrus Bowl opening up, at least for now, guessing the rest breaks down like this:
If Florida State wins the ACC Championship...
College Football Playoff -- Florida State (13-0)
Orange -- Georgia Tech (10-3)
If Georgia Tech wins the ACC Championship ...
Orange -- Georgia Tech (11-2)
New Year's Six at-large (Peach?) -- Florida State (12-1)
Citrus Bowl -- Clemson (9-3)
Russell Athletic Bowl -- Duke (9-3)
Music City OR Gator -- Louisville (9-3)*
Belk -- Notre Dame (7-5)*
Pinstripe -- Boston College (7-5)*
Sun -- N.C. State (7-5)*
Military -- Virginia Tech (6-6)
Quick Lane -- Pittsburgh (6-6)
Independence -- North Carolina (6-6)
BITCOIN -- Miami (6-6)
* depending on the results of the Notre Dame sweepstakes:
Music City OR Gator wins Notre Dame -- Boston College (Pinstripe), Louisville (Sun), N.C. State (Belk)
Belk wins -- Boston College (Pinstripe), Louisville (Music City OR Gator), N.C. State (Sun)
Pinstripe wins -- Boston College (Sun), Louisville (Music City OR Gator), N.C. State (Belk)
Sun wins -- Boston College (Pinstripe), Louisville (Music City OR Gator), N.C. State (Belk)