Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Ole Miss vs. TCU: 5 Things to Know
While there is still plenty of discussion about which team should have been the fourth member of the College Football Playoff, the fact there are quite a number of quality bowl games to be played on January 1 is a testament to the greatness of college football this year. The matchup between Mississippi and TCU is one of those great games we may never have been able to see if not for the circumstances of the CFP.
All I can say is Hallelujah!
If Gary Patterson and his Horned Frogs are going to show the college football world that they are as good as any team in the country and can compete with the bad boys of the SEC, this is the best opportunity for the program to go out and take one away from Ole Miss, a team that shocked the SEC for most of the season with its high ranking and solid roster of talent in the Peach Bowl.
Maybe TCU should follow the Bobby Bowden school of thinking.
Bowden took his upstart Seminoles on the road in the team’s infancy with him as a head coach and beat powerhouses on their own turf.
Should TCU play its brand of football with a foot-on-the-throttle offense, this could be a shootout for the ages.
Here are five things you know about this game.
Ole Miss and TCU have met in six previous meetings. The Rebels own a 5-1 edge over the Horned Frogs. These two teams have not played since 1983. TCU’s only win over Ole Miss took place in 1949.
LOOKING FOR RESPECT
TCU was one of the nation’s most improved squads in 2014. The Horned Frogs went 4-8 in 2013 but rebounded into playoff contention behind an offense that averaged 46.8 points per game. The seven-game jump in wins was largely due to the turnaround on offense and the development of quarterback Trevone Boykin.
Ohio State may not have been a better team than TCU (or Baylor) this season, but they travel well and are a better draw financially.
REBEL WITH A CAUSE
Ole Miss started 7-0 and suffered its first loss of the year at LSU on Oct. 25. After the defeat in Baton Rouge, the Rebels went 2-2 over their next four games, which included a 30-0 loss to Arkansas but a 31-17 win over Mississippi State. The Rebels have increased their win total in each of coach Hugh Freeze’s three seasons and posted their best SEC record (5-3) since 2008.
OFFENSE VERSUS DEFENSE
Something has to give here. TCU recorded 332.8 passing yards per game and ranked 15th in the nation in pass attempts. Quarterback Trevone Boykin is one of the nation’s most-improved players and emerged as a Heisman contender after throwing for 30 touchdowns and only seven interceptions on 461 attempts.
While Boykin had an outstanding regular season, the bowl matchup against Ole Miss will be the best defense he has played in 2014. The Rebels allowed only eight passing scores this season and only one opponent (Texas A&M) managed to pass for more than 300 yards against this defense. Cornerback Senquez Golson had a standout season by intercepting nine passes, while safety Cody Prewitt is among the best in the nation at his position.
While the secondary is stingy, the success of Ole Miss’ defense starts up front with a talented defensive front. Boykin has been efficient (60.5 completion percentage and only seven interceptions) this season. However, the Rebels are the toughest defensive team he’s faced all year and will create problems at the point of attack and in the secondary.
It’s an understatement, but winning the battle at the point of attack is critical for both teams on Dec. 31. Despite the departure of end Devonte Fields before the season started, TCU’s defensive line still managed 34 sacks in 2014. The Horned Frogs’ line has an advantage in the trenches against Ole Miss, as the Rebels will be without standout guard Aaron Morris and allowed 22 sacks in eight SEC games.
Can the offensive line provide enough protection for Wallace to attack downfield? Or will Freeze look to get rid of the ball quickly on short passes to give the offensive line help? On the other side, TCU’s offensive line entered the year as a question mark but allowed only 16 sacks in nine Big 12 contests.
The Horned Frogs have faced their share of solid defensive fronts this year, including Baylor, Texas, Kansas State and Oklahoma. However, Ole Miss could have the best defensive line TCU has played in 2014. Ends C.J. Johnson and Marquis Haynes combined for 10.5 sacks, while tackle Robert Nkemdiche is a force on the interior.