No. 16 Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-2 SU, 6-6 ATS) vs. No. 12 Ole Miss Rebels (9-3 SU, 7-4-1 ATS)
Sugar Bowl Preview
Date/Time: Friday January 1st, 2016. 8:30PM EST
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome New Orleans, L.A.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: OKST +7.5/MISS -7.5
Over/Under Total: 67.5
The Oklahoma State Cowboys won their first 10 games of the season and were in the middle of the National Championship hunt. However, the Cowboys suffered back to back losses to end the year against Baylor and Oklahoma which derailed those aspirations. Instead, the 16th ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys will partake in the January 1st, 2016 Sugar Bowl when they meet the no. 12 Ole Miss Rebels inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Ole Miss also suffered through a few stumbles towards the latter part of the season after a promising start which included a marquee victory over Alabama. Even through the stumbles late, the Rebels rebounded to score back to back victories over LSU and Mississippi State to close out the season on a strong note with a 9-3 SU mark. Now the Rebels have a chance to match a school record 10th victory and score a prestigious Sugar Bowl win against Oklahoma State.
A couple of key stories leading up to this game include the health of Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph and the loss of Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche. Nkemdiche was released from the team just recently as a result of breaking team rules stemming from a charge of marijuana possession. Nkemdiche was once the most heralded prospect in the country ranked number 1 overall when he signed with the Rebels. The star defensive lineman definitely made an impact on the Rebels talented defensive front that has been riddled with injuries. Considering Oklahoma States tendency to spread the football around in the passing game, the loss of another elite pass rusher could have a big impact.
On the other side of the field, Oklahoma State received good news when it was announced that Mason Rudolph should be ready to go for the New Years Day Sugar Bowl. Rudolph went down with a foot injury in the blowout Bedlam loss to Oklahoma in the finale. In that game, it became very apparent how much the Cowboys need Rudolph behind center as backup senior J.W Walsh missed several opportunities down the field. On the season, Rudolph has thrown for 3,591 yards with 21 touchdowns and 9 picks and helped Oklahoma State produce just less than 500 total yards per game.
The entire Cowboys offense relies heavily on the passing game so having Rudolph back under center will be big towards their chances of earning the Sugar Bowl victory. Wide receivers James Washington and David Glidden have combined for 105 catches for nearly 1,900 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns on the season. Washington has hauled in most of the touchdown grabs with 10 but they have very similar numbers in catches and yards. Both receivers should match-up well against the Rebels cornerbacks meaning there should be some opportunities in the passing game especially if Rudolph has sufficient time to throw the football.
Still, there is a reason that the Rebels are the team that is laying the 7.5 points in this game. Ole Miss has been great on the offensive side of the ball with quarterback Chad Kelly at the helm. The former Clemson transfer had a terrific season that exceeded expectations finishing with 3,740 passing yards totaling 27 touchdowns and 12 picks. Kelly also rushed for another 427 yards with 10 touchdowns on the ground.
Kelly also has a very talented receiving group to target that is led by WR Laquan Treadwell. Treadwell made an incredible comeback this season following last years broken leg injury. The star receiver caught 76 passes for 1,082 yards with 7 touchdowns with the bulk of those numbers occurring during the 2nd half of the season. Treadwell has emerged as the premier target for this Ole Miss offense and it will be interesting to see if Oklahoma States defense has any answers for him when they meet inside the Superdome.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I still think the defense is going to be the most important part of this match-up. With another loss on defense for Ole Miss, I think it is going to take its toll. Take Oklahoma State +7.5!
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