Rebels v Bulldogs: All the Eggs Could Be in One Basket
Will Egg smash Iron this season?
It's only the midway point, but there's a real chance the State of Mississippi's rivalry game will supplant the State of Alabama's as a de facto preliminary round to the College Football Playoff.
The two Magnolia State schools are finally getting their due after continued performances like these:
The Bulldogs and Rebels have been Exhibits 1 and 1A for the Selection Committee delaying their first rankings until the end of October. They're not the first to do this, of course; the Harris Poll was a BCS-commissioned attempt to base evaluations on the current season instead of factoring in past glories. But big-brand perception remained, as the BCS wouldn't abandon the media and coaches' polls that have always been more of a popularity contest than accurate assessments.
Mississippi State has now beaten LSU, Texas A&M, and Auburn. Their upcoming schedule gets a little easier with Kentucky and Arkansas on the docket, even though both are improved. Quarterback Dak Prescott will have to keep the Bulldogs on an even keel to make sure late-season matchups against Alabama and Mississippi are meaningful.
Mississippi has beaten Alabama and Texas A&M on consectutive Saturdays, but their schedule is still very demanding. Quarterback Bo Wallace -- no, not that Bo Wallace -- will have to lead the Rebels to victories over Tennessee, LSU, and Auburn in the next three weeks.
If both squads hold serve, they'll be playing the most exciting Egg Bowl ever on 29 November.
It remains to be seen if Florida State will pay for the sins of light scheduling. Being passed by Mississippi State in the big-brand polls indicates it could happen. The Seminoles have faced only one team in the Top 25 so far this season and were fortunate to benefit when Clemson imploded.
This changes on Saturday when Florida State hosts Nôtre Dame in one of the biggest games of the weekend. Jameis Winston is still caught up in what the Russians might call rokzov roulette, so for that and whatever else Mr High Maintenance gets himself into, who knows if he'll be available to play? Frankly, who knows if he'll need to? The Irish haven't exactly projected an elite image, themselves, and this time, that fact won't be clouded by a fake-girlfriend sideshow.
If the Seminoles prevail, there are no more Top 25 teams left on the schedule. If the Irish pull the upset, then believe; there is a God. Coach Brian Kelly will immediately be up for sainthood. Of course, Nôtre Dame would still have to get through Arizona State and USC. If they do that, the Vatican will be checking the calendar to see where to place a holiday in Kelly's honor.
However, Bovada has strong odds on Nietzsche here.
Baylor is the other Top Five team that's undefeated but they gave up 58 points to TCU, even though they came back to win in a way that rivals the Irish's need for miracles. The Bears cannot be a serious contender until they play better defense. They've got a gauntlet of Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Kansas State upcoming. Tall order. 61 may be their magic number throughout.
There are one loss teams that have a chance to play on New Years' Eve and may have a better chance than Baylor. Michigan State, Auburn, Alabama, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Georgia still have a chance to get in although the Bulldogs need Todd Gurley back to be a serious contender.
The SEC's old guard may not like it, but parity makes for a much more entertaining season. Ask the Pac-12, which lives by the NFL's mantra of any given day. Two Hail Marys have already decided games so far out there, and then there was this on Saturday:
At least one two-loss team will make it into the CFP's anointed four if it's a conference champion. While the general thinking was it'd be a Pac-12 team to do it, don't be surprised if the SEC finds its titlist in that position, too. But for now, both Ole Miss and State have other ideas.