2022 TaxAct Texas Bowl Preview: Texas Tech Red Raiders vs Ole Miss Rebels

Senior Xavier White and the Texas Tech Red Raiders look to end the season with a win against the Ole Miss Rebels. Photo Courtesy: Dominic Ceraldi

By Kelly Reed

Game Info
Texas Tech Red Raiders vs Ole Miss Rebels
Wednesday – December 28 – 8:00 p.m.
NRG Stadium – Houston, TX

Records Before the Game
Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-5)
Ole Miss Rebels (8-4)

This year’s TaxAct Texas Bowl should’ve been renamed the Six Flags Over Texas Bowl due to the roller coaster type of season both teams endured. Ole Miss started the season ranked #21 in the AP Poll and eventually climbed up to #7 before ending the season with three straight losses. Texas Tech on the other hand had back to back losses twice this season, beat the Sooners and Longhorns in the same season (which can be considered a major coup) and ended their season with three straight victories. Heck, the team even had three overtime games and won all three. Let’s take a closer look at the two teams playing in H-Town!

Texas Tech Red Raiders
The Red Raiders are more than familiar with NRG Stadium and the city of Houston. They last played there September 4, 2021 and upset then #17 Houston Cougars 38-21. That was then. This is now. New head coach Joey McGuire has the program making waves in the Big 12. Defeating the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners in the same season is a first for the program. Producing a winning conference record for the first time since 2009 looks good too. McGuire can be a bit unconventional at times, but if he is producing positive results for the program; does it matter? The Red Raiders have utilized three different quarterbacks to lead the team this season with varying degrees of success. It looks like Senior Tyler Shough who has the hot hand with three straights wins at the end of the season. He will be the man under center for this bowl game. However, should he prove to be ineffective, Donovan Smith will be the next man up followed by Behren Morton. The ground game will be handled by SaRodorick Thompson and Tahj Brooks who have split time in the back field throughout the season. Both Thompson and Brooks are capable of reeling in passes and can be effective in moving the chains via carries or receptions. Look for Freshman Jerand Bradley and Junior Myles Price to stretch the field as needed. Those two are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg of wide receivers that the Red Raiders can send use against the Rebels. The Red Raiders defense will have their hands full trying to stop the Rebels run game. Tech will be without their first team All-American beast, defensive end Tyree Wilson who is dealing with a shoulder injury. He is a tackling machine and menace to opposing quarterbacks. The Rebels have dodged a bullet with Wilson out. As far as the rest of the defense goes, they will give up points. Lots of them to the Rebels. If the Red Raiders can luck out with a few stops and a turnover or two and create additional opportunities then the defense will feel like they’ve done their job. 

Ole Miss Rebels
Head Coach Lane Kiffin just inked a long term to earn about $9 million a year for the next six years to stay with Ole Miss. The man will unveil something special for Texas Tech on offense. He’s had over a month to analyze and dissect the Red Raider defense. Last season Kiffin led the Rebels to their first regular season finish with 10 wins. Sophomore Jaxson Dart is the helmsman for the Rebels. The USC transfer is solid in his pass attempts, completing around 60% of his throws each game and he can get after it on the ground as evidenced with his 548 rushing yards this season. Through the air Dart has 18 TDs, 8 interceptions and 2,613 yards. His nimble feet will allow him to avoid the Tech pass rush on occasion and complete some downfield throws. The Rebels have their own dynamic duo in their back field with RBs Zach Evans who is from Houston and will certainly have family at the game and fellow RB Quinshon Judkins who possesses breakaway speed and can take it the distance on any given play. In regards to the receiving corp, Dart will spread the ball around. However his go to target is WR Malik Heath. The Senior from Jackson, Mississippi has some height and speed to him. He’s hauled in 52 passes for 834 yards and 4 TDs. Certainly not the most gaudy of stats, but Heath does average 16 yards per reception. Heath makes the most of his opportunities. On the flip side, Jonathan Mingo has very similar stats to Heath. Dart will distribute his passes and these will get the lion’s share of looks. The Rebels defense has seen some some very potent SEC offenses this season. They’ll probably rely on their secondary to sit in a zone and mix in line backer blitzes here and there to rattle the Texas Tech QB. 

Most of the pundits online are picking Ole Miss to win this game outright easily. The spread has the Rebels giving up 3.5 for this one and the over/under is at 71.5 points. One team ended their season losing three in a row and the other won their last three. I’m going with the masses and believe that Ole Miss is the better overall team at this point and they’ll show up. So take the Rebels and give up the points. The game is being played indoors in the comfy confines of NRG Stadium and points will be scored by both offenses since neither team has a great defense, so I’d take the over.

Final Score
Ole Miss – 41
Texas Tech – 33