No. 9 Ole Miss Rebels (9-3 SU, 8-4 ATS) vs. No. 6 TCU Horned Frogs (11-1 SU, 10-2 ATS)
Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl Preview
Date and Time: Wednesday December 31st 2014. 12:30PM EST
Where: Georgia Dome Atlanta, G.A.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MISS +3.5/TCU -3.5
Over/Under Total: 56.5
Outside of the playoff games, there are only two bowl games that will feature top 10 matchups this postseason. Perhaps the more intriguing game of those two matchups will take place on New Years Eve when the 9th ranked Ole Miss Rebels collide with the no. 6 TCU Horned Frogs inside the Georgia Dome in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. The Horned Frogs may feel like they were robbed of a playoff spot as they entered the final week of the regular season ranked 3rd. Despite a 55-3 victory over Iowa State, the Horned Frogs were overtaken by both Baylor and Ohio State in the final polls. Instead of participating in the playoffs, TCU will now try to prove that the college football playoff committee made the wrong decision when they get the chance to slay one of the big dogs from the SEC.
The Rebels had a breakout season at 9-3 SU which was capped off by a big win in the Egg Bowl over no. 4 Mississippi State in the season finale. If not for a pair of back to back close losses to LSU and Auburn, the Rebels would also likely be in the playoffs. Instead of debating a multitude of what if scenarios, the Rebels will try to close out the season strong with a win over TCU. Currently Ole Miss is listed as 3.5 point underdogs at most betting shops as they seek their first 10 win season since 1971. The Rebels have won their last 6 bowl games and remarkably won 10 of their last 11 postseason matchups. However, this years matchup against TCU will likely be the toughest postseason game the program has faced throughout those 11 games.
The reason this game is so intriguing outside of the rankings, breakout seasons, as so forth is the dynamic matchup that will take place on the field when TCUs offense meets the Rebels defense. The Horned Frogs offense ranks 2nd in the FBS averaging a lucrative 46.8 points per game. The offense has been incredible in both the running game and perhaps even more through the passing game. Dual threat quarterback Trevone Boykin has aided in both causes throwing for 3,714 yards with 30 touchdowns and 7 picks while also rushing for 642 yards with 8 touchdowns. Statistically, the Horned Frogs rank 7th in the FBS in passing averaging 332 yards per game. However they seemingly wear down defenses with their ground attack between the running threat of Boykin and tailback Aaron Green. The success of the running game typically opens the big plays down the field in the passing game. Regardless the consistency and balance that TCU provides on offense has been unstoppable for defenses this season.
When TCUs offense steps on the field inside the Georgia Dome, they will face their biggest challenge to date against the Rebels defense. Ole Miss owns the nations top scoring defense that has given up just 13.8 points per game all season. Ole Misss defense is especially strong along the defensive line and it will be interesting to see if they can win the battle up front to stop the TCU rushing game. If Ole Miss can win the battle along the defensive line, they will likely be able to man up in the secondary with help over the top in attempt to stop TCUs passing offense. The problem for opposing defenses that have faced TCU this season is they have often had to bring help up front to stop the run leaving defenses vulnerable against the pass. Therefore it will be interesting to see if the Rebels can stop TCUs defense upfront without having to bring any extra help from the secondary.
Offensively, the Rebels were slowed during the latter part of the season especially after the loss of wide receiver Laquan Treadwell. However the offense has plenty of talent and playmakers to challenge TCUs defense. Rebels quarterback Bo Wallace has been solid for most of the season with 3,085 passing yards with 22 touchdowns and 11 picks. Therefore they have a senior leader with a ton of talent around him to make plays on the offensive side of the football. Still, this game will likely ride heavily on the Rebels defense. Ole Miss does not have the offensive firepower to get into a shootout with TCU but they do have enough firepower to win if the defense can find ways to get off the field.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: As long as TCU avoids a letdown performance similar to the way Alabama laid an egg against Oklahoma after being shutout of the National Championship picture last year, then they should win this game convincingly. The Horned Frogs are a bad matchup for the Rebels and I expect them to show it inside the Georgia Dome. Take TCU -3.5!