Ole Miss and Oklahoma State took different routes to the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
But for the Rebels and the Cowboys, the best one to be on Saturday was staying at home.
With their regular seasons finished, the Rebels and the Cowboys only had to watch as both Florida and Baylor lost, unofficially propelling Ole Miss and Oklahoma State to the Jan. 1 game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The official announcement will be made Sunday along with the College Football Playoff pairings and the other bowl games.
That includes the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, which is expected to pair Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas State against either Southern Mississippi or Louisiana Tech.
That game will be played Dec. 19.
Florida’s 29-15 loss to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game should keep Ole Miss (9-3) as the second-highest ranked team in the College Football Playoff standings despite a 38-10 loss to the Gators in October.
The league uses the standings to determine the SEC’s Sugar Bowl berth, and last week Ole Miss was No. 13 and Florida No. 18.
Meanwhile, 20-point underdog Texas’ 23-17 upset of Baylor gives Oklahoma State the Big 12’s spot in the bowl, which is in its first year of a partnership with that league and the SEC.
Had Baylor won, the Bears would have been in the Sugar Bowl.
Instead, Oklahoma State (10-2) gets the berth. The Cowboys tied TCU for second place in the Big 12 at 8-1 and were behind the Horned Frogs in the latest CFP standings. But Oklahoma State’s 49-29 victory against TCU gives the Cowboys the tiebreaker, which is different from the SEC’s.
This will be the eighth Sugar Bowl for Ole Miss, but the first since Archie Manning led the Rebels to a 27-22 victory against Arkansas in the 1970 game.
Oklahoma State’s only previous Sugar Bowl appearance was in the 1946 game when the Cowboys, then called the Aggies, defeated St. Mary’s 33-13.
The New Orleans Bowl has the first choice among Sun Belt teams and has indicated it will take Arkansas State (9-3), which wrapped up its regular season Saturday with a 55-13 victory against Texas State.
Southern Miss (9-4) which lost to Western Kentucky, 45-28 in the Conference USA Championship Game, and Louisiana Tech (8-4), along with league and bowl officials plus ESPN, will consult Sunday on the two team’s bowl options.
An Arkansas State-Southern Miss New Orleans Bowl would be a rematch of the 2005 game, which was played in Lafayette because of Hurricane Katina. The Eagles also appeared in the 2008 and 2009 games.
Louisiana Tech has never played in the New Orleans Bowl.