Baylor vs. Ole Miss: Sugar Bowl odds, preview, and pick
The Sugar Bowl features contrasting styles, as Baylor grinds out wins defensively and Mississippi outscores foes with a high-powered offense.
Sun, January 2 2022, 1:45 AM
Baylor’s Dave Aranda was a Coach of the Year candidate, leading the Bears to an 11-2 record after a 2-7 campaign last year, and the Big 12 champions didn’t allow more than 30 points this year. The opportunistic defense forced multiple takeaways in the last four games, and first-team All-Big 12 running back Abram Smith leads an effective rushing attack.
Mississippi enters on a four-game win streak, including victories over Texas A&M and Mississippi State as an underdog, and the 10-2 Rebels are seeking to win 11 games for the first time in program history.
Their only losses came on the road at Alabama and Auburn, and the Rebels received a huge boost when quarterback Matt Corral, a projected first-round pick, announced he will play in the bowl game.
Stingy defense forces turnovers
Baylor has a takeaway in 21 straight games, ranking fifth nationally in turnover margin (+12), and its stop unit was the difference in the Big 12 Championship, forcing four interceptions from Oklahoma State.
The Bears won high-profile games in the second half of the season, throttling Oklahoma and Texas at home, and limiting high-scoring Kansas State to only 10 points in a double-digit road victory. The team features the 15th best run defense in the nation.
After winning the last two games without Gerry Bohanon, Baylor should receive a boost having its starting quarterback back for the Sugar Bowl.
Baylor can control the clock via long, time-consuming drives fueled on the ground, leading the Big 12 by averaging 214.7 rushing yards per game.
Offense stretches the field
Corral was among the nation’s leaders in passing yards, completion percentage, efficiency numbers, and other stats, and he had only four interceptions on the season. He also added 10 rushing touchdowns, and Corral will test Baylor’s secondary.
The Rebels were versatile, as well, leading the SEC in rushing (224.2 yards per game). They like to score early and often, averaging 35.9 points per game.
Jerrion Ealy is a dynamic playmaker out of the backfield, leading Ole Miss in rushing, and he caught 30 passes this season. Defensive lineman Sam Williams, who established a new school record with 12.5 sacks, can wreak havoc on defense.
Ole Miss doesn’t have a top-ranked defense like Baylor, but it was solid over the final six weeks of the regular season, holding five of the last six opponents to 21 points or fewer.
Baylor and Ole Miss betting trends
- Bears are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games overall
- Rebels are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games overall
- The Under is 4-0 in the Bears' last four games as an underdog
- The Under is 4-0 in the Rebels' last four games as a favorite
Sugar Bowl prediction
Ole Miss is high-scoring, and Baylor doesn’t allow many points, so something has to give between the teams.
Baylor didn’t face many high-profile quarterbacks, none over the final two months of the season, and its secondary will prove vulnerable against Corral.
Brock Purdy carved the Bears up early in the season, averaging eight yards per pass, as Iowa State outgained Baylor by a 479-282 margin in total yards, and the Bears surrendered 461 passing yards to TCU in early November.
Ole Miss will apply pressure with first-half scoring drives, and Baylor’s offense won’t be able to match points.