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Bowl Selection: The Statistical Case for Vanderbilt over Mississippi State

Statistical ammunition for your finest bowl lobbying efforts.

Frederick Breedon

There are myriad factors that come into play when a committee enters the selection process for a college bowl game. Pairings, ticket sales, revenue, et cetera. After all, if it all came down to which team was better, this wouldn't be a contest.

Barring some odd results in this weekend's college football conference championship slate, either the Chick-fil-A bowl or the Gator Bowl (most likely) will be given the option to select either the 8-4 Vanderbilt Commodores or 8-4 Mississippi St. Bulldogs.

Here's anyone's best attempt to compare the teams based on their on-field performances (source:

Category VAN MSt VU Edge
Total Offense, Rank 70th 78th +08.0
Total Offense, Yards/Game 393 388 +04.6
Scoring Offense, Rank 61st 56th –05.0
Scoring Offense, Points/Game 29 30 –00.9
Rushing Offense, Rank 53rd 87th +34.0
Rushing Offense, Yards/Game 171 140 +31.0
Passing Offense, Rank 73rd 50th –23.0
Passing Offense, Yards/Game 221 248 –26.4
Total Defense, Rank 18th 57th +39.0
Total Defense, Yards/Game 326 390 +63.5
Scoring Defense, Rank 18th 29th +11.0
Scoring Defense, Points/Game 18 22 +04.2
Rushing Defense, Rank 51st 73rd +22.0
Rushing Defense, Yards/Game 151 166 +15.4
Passing Defense, Rank 10th 47th +37.0
Passing Defese, Yards/Game 176 224 +48.1
Turnover Differential - 5 + 16 –21.0

Of course, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State didn't exactly play the same schedule, so it's hard to just rely on unadjusted performance. With that in mind, here's how the Commodores and Bulldogs stack up in the various rankings that comprise the BCS (source:

Measure VAN MSt VU Edge
BCS 28 35 +07
Harris Votes 67 26 +41
Coaches Votes 94 11 +83
Sagarin 22 33 +11
Colley 26 31 +05
Anderson-Hester 25 33 +08
Billingsley 50 35 –15
Massey 18 27 +09
Wolfe 21 32 +11

If either the Chick-fil-A or Gator bowl committees pick Mississippi State over the Commodores, it will be because Vanderbilt fans haven't stepped up to the plate. Have you preordered tickets through Vanderbilt? UPDATE: Or because Nebraska got the snot kicked out of them by Wisconsin...THAT'S TWICE THIS YEAR, BADGERS.