Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cotton Bowl Preview

(#20, #24)Ole Miss (8-4) vs (#8, #8)Texas Tech(11-1)
Cotton Bowl
Dallas, TX
January 2, 1:00 PM
All Time Series: Tied 2-2
All Time Bowl Records: Ole Miss 19-12, Texas Tech 10-20-1
Wednesday’s Line: Texas Tech -4.5

Total Offense, Scoring Offense (National Rank):
Texas Tech: 536.2 ypg (4th), 44.6 ppg (4th)
Ole Miss: 398.4 ypg (37th), 30.8 ppg (32nd)

Total Defense, Scoring Defense (National Rank):
Texas Tech: 371.6 ypg (72nd), 26.3 ppg (66th)
Ole Miss: 294.8 ypg (14th), 17.8 ppg (14th)

In what should be one of the best bowls of the season, streaking Ole Miss takes on potent Texas Tech in the final Cotton Bowl played at the fairgrounds in Dallas. It’s the 5th meeting between the 2 schools, and a homecoming of sorts for Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead, a native Texan. Both teams enter the game hot as the Rebels have won 5 straight games and the Red Raiders are 11-1, though suffered a humbling blowout to Oklahoma.

If the Rebels are going to stay in this game, they’ll need to play the same kind of defense they’ve played over the last 4 games where they’ve given up just 20 points and pitched 2 shutouts. The defensive line – led by All-American Peria Jerry – has been unblockable. It will be a tough task though, as Texas Tech ranks 5th in the nation in protecting the QB, giving up just 11 sacks in 12 games. The Red Raiders also lead the nation in fewest tackles for loss allowed (2.95 per game) while the Rebels lead the country in tackles for loss with 8.92 per game.

The majority of TTU’s yards come after the catch. QB Harrell throws a lot of quick, underneath passes and screens and lets his talented WRs do the rest. It will be a true test for the Ole Miss defensive front to disrupt Tech’s rhythm.

On the flip side, the Red Raiders will have their hands full stopping the Rebel attack. QB Snead has really come on in the second half of the season and the “Wild Rebel” has been an effective option for the Rebels as well. TTU hasn’t played against an offense like Ole Miss’ this year, so it will be interesting to see how they adjust.

If you want to stop Texas Tech, you’ve got to get pressure on Harrell. He’s shown to be average throwing the ball on the run. Outside of USC and Oklahoma, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more dominant defensive line in the country than the Rebels’. While the Ole Miss secondary is average at best, the front 7 will be able to get plenty of pressure and force TTU turnovers. Look for the Rebs’ remarkable turnaround season to be capped with an upset of the Red Raiders in Dallas.

Ole Miss 31, Texas Tech 30

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