Super Sunday

As Saturday moved into Sunday, Boise State finished off Fresno State for a Mountain West Conference championship. The Broncos lost 35-13 to Ole Miss in August and lost only one more time – to Air Force 28-14 in September.

Boise State was one of three conference champions Ole Miss defeated this season. The Rebels defeated American Athletic Conference tri-champ Memphis 24-3. The Tigers’ 7-1 league mark is the same as that of Cincinnati and East Carolina.

Ole Miss beat the champions of the Southeastern Conference, the only loss for the Alabama Crimson Tide, 23-17 in Oxford.

The Rebels defeated Louisiana-Lafayette, which ended up as the runnerup in the Sun Belt Conference at 7-1 behind 8-0 Georgia Southern.

The Rebels faced three teams that will likely end up in Big Six bowls – Boise State, Alabama, and Mississippi State, which fell to the Rebels 31-17 in Oxford.

Ole Miss played 12 games and faced 10 teams that will go to bowl games. Only Vanderbilt and Presbyterian won’t, although the Blue Hose won six games in their own division of college football.

Even with three losses, that’s quite a resume’ for any team. Strength of schedule, power ratings, indicators and all that jazz had Ole Miss up there among the country’s best, for the most part.

So where will the Rebels be later today when the final standings are released?

Last week they vaulted from 19th to 12th after beating MSU in the Battle for the Golden Egg. With losses by No. 7 Arizona, No. 9 Kansas State, and No. 11 Georgia Tech, Ole Miss should end up at least 10th.

That might not be the case, but getting into that 10th spot should assure Ole Miss a New Year’s Day appearance, by all accounts either in the Peach Bowl or the Cotton Bowl.

The ones that are apparently out are the Orange, Rose, and Sugar, the latter two being the national semifinal games. Because of distance, the Fiesta probably isn't an option, and one team there will probably be Boise State.

Apparently Mississippi State thought it had the inside track to the Orange Bowl before losing to Ole Miss. Now it looks like Peach or Cotton for MSU, and that is what some folks in Starkville believe.

Ole Miss started its season in Atlanta. And while the committee likely doesn’t care about that one way or the other, the Chik-Fil-A sponsors might not want the Rebels twice in a single season. Then again, they could opt for Ole Miss.

So let’s just leave it at that – Peach or Cotton. Provided the Rebels get into that 10th spot.

If they don’t? Probably depends on where Missouri ends up. Do the Tigers get the Citrus? Or do the Rebels?

Do the Rebels slip down to the Gator (I refuse until I have to to call it the Taxslayer Bowl).

Final say on all this? Committee plus conferences plus sponsors, in some way, shape, or form. But since it is the first year for this format, today will prove interesting.

They’ll announce the final four – the Rose and Sugar for this season – at 11:30 CT this morning. In the early afternoon, they’re announcing the other “big” bowls – Fiesta, Cotton, Orange, Peach.

If Ole Miss hasn’t been called by that point, we’ll wait to see where the Rebels wind up in one of the Florida bowls.

Couple of points as we’ve watched this unfold the past several days, weeks, months, years. I believe there will be a strong push immediately for an eight-team playoff.

And I have been pleased all along that they found a way to encompass the bowls and their longtime names into the playoff proceedings. That we can say Peach Bowl again and younger fans know what we’re talking about is an accomplishment.

Now if only the Gator can get its rightful name back.

Only Florida State managed to get through unscathed as far as any losses this season. But the Seminoles aren’t anybody’s consensus No. 1, or even 2 or 3, it appears. It will be interesting to see if last season’s national champs are a top four pick, which I’m guessing they will be.

And Ohio State, too. With their performance against Wisconsin, the Buckeyes probably proved worthy enough for many on the committee to include them.

Which is why Baylor and TCU and probably a few others (Ole Miss? Mississippi State?) will probably be saying there need to be eight playoff teams next year instead of four.

And let this sink in for a minute. Who among us could have predicted this season for Ole Miss? Yes, that's been said many times the past couple of months.

But when all this talk of playoffs was brewing for a decade or two, who would have thought Ole Miss would have been in the middle of it this first year of the new format?

For that matter TCU or Baylor. Just a few years ago for Baylor and a little longer back than that for TCU, both those football programs were almost left for dead. Baylor was the bottom of the Big 12, and TCU wasn't even in the Big 12 after not having a place at the table following the demise of the old Southwest Conference.

The playing field has certainly leveled, and schools that decide to spend the money to "get in the game" as far as facilities, salaries, budget, and make the commitment to do so can thrive. We've seen that this season.

I read there are 76 bowl spots this year. That's a lot. Your program and team need to be in the top 10, 15, or 20 nationally at this point with that many bowl teams, or you're just in there amongst them and nothing all that special. Of course circumstances will always dictate, like coaching changes, injuries, etc.

The Rebels are definitely "in the game." For this season the hay is in the barn, and the table is set for the committee to finalize and let us all know.

Super Sunday it is indeed for college football. And Ole Miss has been in the thick of things since opening night in Atlanta against Boise State.

Stay tuned. A memorable and worthy Rebel team awaits its reward later today.

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