Where does Mississippi State go now?
We’ll find out for sure in a few days what bowl game the Bulldogs will play in; until then, all we can do is offer our best guess. The most likely destination appears to be the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., site of MSU’s 52-14 triumph over Michigan two years ago. It would not be unusual for a team to play in the same bowl two out of three years, and given how well MSU fans traveled to that game, I imagine the Gator folks would be happy to have them again.
CBSSports.com is projecting State to play in Jacksonville versus Wisconsin. Over at ESPN.com, Mark Schlabach also projects MSU vs. Wisconsin in the Gator, but Brad Edwards has State in the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham. Edwards has Vanderbilt in the Gator. The Music City Bowl could be in play as well, although the Bulldogs were there just last season.
I have serious doubts about MSU going to Birmingham. That bowl game is near the bottom of the SEC tie-in pecking order. You might see Ole Miss wind up there, although you’d think the Liberty Bowl would be a good destination for the Rebels. However, the SEC won’t be able to fulfill all of its bowl tie-ins, and the Compass and Liberty have a shared pick. This year the priority goes to the Compass, so it’s likely that the Liberty will take an at-large team.
Here’s how I think the bowl picture could end up looking for the SEC (assuming Alabama beats Georgia in the SEC title game).
• BCS title game: Alabama
• Sugar: Florida
• Capitol One: Georgia
• Cotton: Texas A&M
• Outback: South Carolina
• Chick-fil-A: LSU
• Gator: MSU
• Music City: Vanderbilt
• Liberty: Ole Miss
• BBVA Compass: non-SEC
• Independence: non-SEC
Now, the Liberty folks might desire what they see as a more attractive matchup not involving an SEC team. They could work that out with the BBVA Compass folks in Birmingham. One thing to consider there is that Ole Miss fans are less likely to spend money on hotels and such because of their proximity to Memphis, although I don’t see, say, Toledo bringing in a ton of fans.
The hotel deal could also give the Music City folks pause when it comes to Vanderbilt, since both are located in Nashville. But the Commodores played in that game in 2008, and the Music City Bowl is very open to the possibility of a return trip. As for Vandy to the Gator, it’s certainly possible, and it has apparently become a fluid situation with that game. Heck, the whole situation is fluid.
Hopefully the bowl picture clears up as the week goes on, but we won’t know anything for certain until Sunday.
• Got some links for you: My opinion offering on MSU’s assistant coaches. … Here are Egg Bowl rewinds from me and from Parrish Alford. … Ole Miss DB Charles Sawyer says he could tell MSU was giving up during the Egg Bowl. … Gene Chizik is gone.