By Tommy Smith
(9) Ole Miss Rebels vs. (6) TCU Horned Frogs
Wednesday – December 31 – 11:30 am
Georgia Dome – Atlanta
How they got here
After starting the season 7-0, the Ole Miss Rebels needed their 31-17 victory over Mississippi State in the annual Egg Bowl to finish 5-3 in the SEC. The Rebels struggled to the finish, losing three of their last four conference games, including a 30-0 loss at Arkansas. TCU is looking for redemption after being snubbed by the College Football Playoff Committee. The Horned Frogs held a spot in the first-ever playoffs heading into the last week of the season, but the Big 12 does not play a Conference Championship Game. Being named Conference Co-Champions hurt both TCU and Baylor’s hopes of making the CFA’s pigskin dance.
Ole Miss Rebels
Ole Miss is led on offense by quarterback Bo Wallace, who can be great or can get them beat. Wallace was receiving some Heisman Trophy consideration after a fast start, but completed just 55% of his passes, with five touchdowns and five interceptions as the Rebels limped toward the finish line. The loss of receiver Laquon Treadwell with a fractured leg did not help Wallace’s efforts. Defensively, the Rebels held opponents to just 13.8 ppg, which ranked first among FBS schools. The Rebels only gave up eight touchdown passes, while intercepting their opponent 19 times to lead the nation in touchdown-to-interception ratio. Cornerback Senquez Golson accounted for nine of those picks.
TCU Horned Frogs
TCU head coach Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs got offensive this season with the addition of offensive coaches Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham. Those two, along with quarterback Trevon Boykin, led TCU to the nation’s second-highest scoring offense. Boykin threw for over 3,700 yards adding 30 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. He is on pace to average 300 passing yards and 50 rushing yards per game. The only other quarterbacks to accomplish that were Heisman Trophy winners Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel. Wide receiver Josh Doctson led the Horned Frogs with 59 catches, 959 yards and nine touchdowns. Patterson’s defense is still among the best in the country and is led by linebacker Paul Dawson, who received 1st-team All-America honors.
Prediction: TCU 38 – Ole Miss 20
TCU is looking to make a statement after being excluded from the College Football Playoff. Boykin and the TCU offense are unlike anything the Rebels have seen in the SEC this season. Given time to scheme, Patterson can design a defense to slow down the best offenses in the country. His defense, along with the Horned Frog offense, should be enough for TCU to make their point in this year’s Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.