While the college football world focused its attention on which team among Ohio State, Baylor and TCU would nab the fourth spot in the College Football Playoff, critical shuffling from slots No. 5 through No. 12 by the playoff committee determined the remaining access bowls. One move in particular cost the Big Ten $23.5 million.
With the Rose and Sugar Bowls making up this year’s CFP, the Orange Bowl is the remaining contract bowl outside of the CFP structure. Its deal matches an ACC team against the highest-ranked team from the SEC, Big Ten, or Notre Dame. The Big Ten and SEC champions are in the playoff, so the Orange Bowl selected the next highest-ranked team.
Despite neither team playing Saturday, Mississippi State overtook Michigan State for the No. 7 spot in the final ranking (replacing Arizona, which lost in the Pac-12 Championship), earning a spot in the Orange Bowl. That means the ACC and SEC — not the Big Ten — will split the $55 million bowl distribution. So while Michigan State will play in the Cotton Bowl against a more attractive opponent (TCU) in a superior venue (AT&T Stadium), Mississippi State getting into the Orange Bowl against Georgia Tech means $27.5 million will be distributed to the SEC.
The Big Ten will receive $4 million for Michigan State’s Cotton Bowl appearance, a cool $23.5 million less than Mississippi State brings home to the SEC.