PAUL NEWBERRY, AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — After being passed over for a spot in college football’s first playoff, TCU got its consolation prize Sunday: Mississippi in the Peach Bowl.
The Horned Frogs (11-1) dropped from third to sixth in the final rankings issued by the selection committee, despite a 55-3 win over Iowa State to earn a share of the Big 12 championship.
Bitterly disappointed, it will be intriguing to see TCU’s reaction when it faces the Rebels (9-3) in the Dec. 31 game at the Georgia Dome. A letdown is certainly possible, but the Horned Frogs could also be highly motivated to put on a performance that shows they were worthy of being in the playoff.
Ole Miss handed No. 1 Alabama its only loss and knocked off Orange Bowl-bound Mississippi State in the regular-season finale.
TCU coach Gary Patterson felt his team had done enough to claim a spot in the playoff, though he acknowledged the committee had a tough decision with three worthy one-loss teams. Ohio State’s 59-0 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game proved to be the deciding factor, leaving the Horned Frogs to regret their only loss.
Baylor overcame a 21-point deficit in the fourth quarter, scoring 24 points in the final 11 minutes — including a tiebreaking field goal as time expired — to beat TCU 61-58 on Oct. 11.
“I don’t worry about spilled milk,” Patterson said.
The coach insisted that his team is eager to face the Rebels, especially after going 4-8 a year ago. Sure, the Horned Frogs would have preferred a shot at the national title, but this is a young team that would appear to have a very bright future after only three years in the Big 12.
“We need to move on,” Patterson said. “The players want to finish this season like they started. They’re excited about coming to Atlanta.”
Ole Miss started the season with seven straight wins, including an opening win over Boise State at the Georgia Dome and a 23-17 upset of Alabama in early October. The Rebels climbed to No. 3 in The Associated Press rankings, but hopes for a truly special season were snuffed out by excruciating losses to LSU (10-7) and Auburn (35-31), the latter marred by a gruesome injury to star receiver Laquon Treadwell.
After their third straight SEC loss, a 30-0 rout by Arkansas, the regular season ended on a promising note when the Rebels knocked off then-No. 4 Mississippi State 31-17 in the Egg Bowl, eliminating their biggest rival from a shot at the SEC West title. That propelled Ole Miss to No. 9 in the final College Football Playoff rankings, the same spot it holds in The Associated Press rankings.
TCU is ranked sixth by the AP.
Ole Miss was a bit of a bubble team for one of the Big Six bowls, but coach Hugh Freeze felt better about is chances after the favored teams all won Saturday, eliminating the chance of someone else slipping into the mix.
This will be a showdown between the nation’s second-highest scoring offense (TCU is averaging 46.8 points a game) and the top-rated defense (Ole Miss is allowing just 13.8 points).
“I want to try to get some tapes after the season, learn what they’re doing to score so many points,” Freeze said.
“I’m getting set up already,’ Patterson joked.