2009 Cotton Bowl Preview and Picks – Ole Miss Rebels vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Ole Miss Rebels (8-4) +5.5, 71 O/U vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (11-1)
Cotton Bowl, Dallas, T.X., Jan 2nd, 2:00PM Eastern

By Jay Horne of Predictem.com

The Red Raiders ended the season with the same record as Oklahoma and Texas, but will be left out of a BCS affiliated bowl game. Texas Tech had a legitimate hope to receive a BCS bowl berth, but their blow out loss from Oklahoma set them back to far in the polls. Instead, they will stay in the state of Texas when they take on the Ole Miss Rebels in Dallas. The Rebels are perhaps one of the most improved teams in the nation with restored faith behind new head coach Houston Nutt. Nutt has turned the Ole Miss program around with twice as many wins this season as the previous two years for the Rebels. This game will definitely be the 2nd most watched SEC vs. Big 12 battle considering the National Championship features Oklahoma and Florida, but this game could be the most exciting.


Texas Tech is well known for having one of the best offenses in college football. The Red Raiders passing attack is 2nd to none averaging 417 yards per game through the air leading the nation. Texas Tech is a pass every down team that will not attempt many rushing attempts. However, they are extremely hard to defend behind Heisman finalist Graham Harrell. Harrell has been tremendous this season and is on the brink of a college football milestone. If Harrell can complete 253 yards in the Cotton Bowl, he can eclipse the 5,000 yard mark for the season becoming the 4th player in NCAA history to do so. The Red Raiders have accounted for 44.5 points per game this season ranking them the 5th best scoring offense in America. Harrell and company will look to rack up some points against the SECs Ole Miss.

Ole Miss had as good a year the Rebels have had in recent history with their 8 wins this season. This game may be expected to be a routing by Texas Tech given they are one of the best teams in the Big 12 while Ole Miss is more towards the middle of the SEC. However, the Rebels will look to slow down the Red Raider explosive offense and score the Rebels first bowl victory since 2002. The Ole Miss defense is a talented group of guys that rank in the top 20 in overall defense. The Rebels defense has held opposing offenses to 293 yards per game while only allowing 17.8 points per game. The Rebels hope to come up with a way to force the Red Raider offense into some three and outs.

SportsBetting Sportsbook has opened the betting line favoring the Red Raiders by 5.5 points over the Rebels. The early betting public will be favoring Texas Tech by a good margin in this game ATS, but the Rebels look to make this a close game. The over/under total for the game is posted at the 71 point mark due to the trend Texas Tech has to score some really high totals in games.

Ole Miss did accomplish a victory against the Florida Gators this season 31-30 and will try and score another huge victory January 2nd. Ole Miss Quarterback Jevan Snead has really come on strong in the 2nd half of the season. Snead looks like a future NFL quarterback in the making. On the season, Snead has completed 56% of his passes for 2470 yards along with 23 touchdowns. Snead has thrown 12 interceptions this season, but many of those come early in the year. In the Rebels last 4 games, Snead passed for 200 yards per game with 11 touchdowns and only 4 picks. Snead will play a big factor in scoring points for the Rebels offense in attempt to keep up with the high scoring offense of Texas Tech. Also, keep an eye on junior playmaker Dexter McCluster. McCluster can catch passes as a wide receiver and take carries as a running back and serves as a dangerous threat. The Rebels try to pull off a big win similar to that of the 1998 Independence Bowl when Ole Miss beat a heavily favored Red Raider team.

Texas Tech high power offense is responsible for 536 yards per game of total offense. The Red Raiders are led behind the arm of quarterback Graham Harrell. Harrell favorite target is arguably the best wide receiver in the nation in WR Michael Crabtree. Crabtree has 93 catches this season along with 1135 reception yards and an outstanding 18 touchdowns. The duo will look to hook up early and often when they battle the Rebels in their home state of Texas. The Red Raider defense has struggled in the high scoring conference that is the Big 12. Whether the defense is not that good or the offenses in the Big 12 are that strong remains to be determined. However, the Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss Game could provide some answers. If the Rebels win, the SEC will just make another exclamation point on their claim as the nations best conference. However, many will be pulling for the Big 12 to score a victory and test the argument that they were the best conference in America this season.

Betting Trends
The Red Raiders are 13-1 SU in their last 14 games while they have reached the over total in 7 of their last 8 games. The Rebels have went 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games and have reached the under total in 5 of their past 6 games.

Jays Pick The under 71 here is very likely. Ole Miss will try and run the ball a bit to slow the pace of the game, while I do not believe Texas Tech will score more than 40 points at the very most against an SEC defense. Take the under 71 and make some money.