Mississippi Missin’: Why Ole Miss and Miss State Are a Far-Cry from Locks for the Playoff and Georgia has a Great Chance
I’m not even going to mention schedules here. Nor am I going to dig into the methodology that may or may not be used by the selection committee for the inaugural playoff. I’m just going to mention where we currently are with regards to the two Mississippi schools and what that means historically.
Mississippi State is the nation’s top ranked team. Ole Miss is not far behind at No. 3. Presumably—based on most every mid-season synopsis available—one or both of these teams will make the college football playoff. That might be the case. But it’s not entirely impossible that neither makes it.
Over the past 10 seasons 56.67% of teams ranked in the Top 3 of the Week 8 Coaches Poll finished the season ranked in the Top 4 (for playoff) in the same poll following Conference Championship Week. Roughly speaking, that means the odds suggest one of the two Mississippi schools will make it. The fact that these two teams still have to play each other further solidifies the notion that it’s unlikely both make it.
But even one making it is hardly a lock.
Last year, Oregon and Clemson ranked second and third respectively at this juncture in the season; they finished ranked 10th and 12th. And they aren’t isolated in their declines. Oklahoma ranked third in 2011 at Week 8 and 19th prior to Bowl season. Boise State fell from No. 2 to No. 10 while Oklahoma fell from No. 3 to No. 8 in 2010. South Florida and Boston College boasted Top 3 rankings in Week 8 of 2007, the Bulls were ranked 25th heading into their bowl game while the Eagles were ranked 14th.
The average pre-bowl ranking of the 30 teams ranked in the Top 3 at Week 8 over the past 10 years is 6.03. If Mississippi State and Ole Miss prove to be average, neither school will make the playoff.
The good news for Georgia lies in the road ahead. We don’t know much, but we can pretty much guarantee that the Final Four won’t be Mississippi State, Florida State, Ole Miss and Baylor (the current Top 4). And based on head-to-head scheduling alone, the following teams currently ranked ahead of Georgia are due for setbacks at some point:
- Florida State (#2) or Notre Dame (#5) – Game played this weekend in Tallahassee.
- Ole Miss (#3) or Mississippi State (#1) – Game played in Oxford on Nov. 29.
- Auburn (#8) or Alabama (#7) – Game played in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 29.
So how does Georgia get there? Who the hell knows? Again, we don’t know what the committee will do. Winning out seems like the obvious ticket-puncher. Let’s just do that.
That’s all I got/