The Sugar Bowl may not be a matchup of college football blue bloods, but it is a matchup of two nice success stories from this season.
Expectations were not high for Baylor going into Dave Aranda’s second season in Waco. But behind a strong defense and one of the best rushing attacks in the country, the Bears claimed the Big 12 title, crushing Oklahoma State’s College Football Playoff hopes with a memorable goal-line stand.
Aranda was prominently mentioned in the coaching carousel over the last couple of months, but he didn’t leave for greener pastures. The same goes for Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss. His name featured prominently for big jobs that came open this season because of his fast success down in Oxford.
With a small spread and two very different styles of play, the Sugar Bowl could be one of the best games of the bowl season.
Fiesta Bowl Matchup Info and Betting Odds
- Game Matchup: Baylor Bears (11-2, 7-2 Big 12) vs Ole Miss Rebels (10-2, 6-2 SEC)
- Venue & Location: Caesars Superdome (New Orleans, Louisiana)
- Date: Saturday, January 1, 2022
- Time: 8:45 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
- Spread: n/a
- Total: OVER 58 (-105), UNDER 58 (-115)
- Moneyline: Baylor -105, Ole Miss -115
Odds are from BetMGM.
Sugar Bowl Betting Outlook
Baylor’s blemishes this season were both on the road, as they went down to Oklahoma State in October and TCU in November. Coach Aranda is a steadying influence, and he definitely has things ahead of schedule in Waco.
It is hard to find a more balanced team in college football. They average 215 yards per game on the ground and 216 yards per game through the air. They are also a strong defensive team, yielding just under 20 points per game.
Ole Miss only lost twice all season as well, once to Alabama and the other time to Auburn. They finished the season as one of the nation’s most productive offenses, putting up big numbers on the ground and through the air. QB Matt Corral threw for over 3,300 yards and was one of four Rebels with at least 500 rushing yards. However, their scoring decreased in the second half of the season.
The major news for Ole Miss is that Corral, a potential first-round NFL Draft pick, will play. Prior to the Rebels’ final home game of the season, he announced that he is moving on to the NFL. But unlike a number of top prospects, he has not opted out of the bowl game.
Sugar Bowl Prediction and Best Bet
Ole Miss 31, Baylor 25 (Ole Miss ML)
The Rebels are a very good offensive team and can move the ball on anyone. Their success helped offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby get the OC job at Oklahoma. With Corral and Kiffin still at the controls, Lebby’s departure shouldn’t affect the Rebels in the Sugar Bowl.
Ole Miss should be able to have success against Baylor on offense, and they need to as they are not a very strong defensive team.
When Baylor has the ball there is some debate as to which quarterback gives them the best chance to win the Sugar Bowl, as they have two solid options to turn to. QB Gerry Bohanon isn’t on Corral’s level, but he had a great regular season, throwing 17 touchdown passes and rushing for nine scores. He rarely turned the ball over this season, and he adds to the running game.
However, when he got hurt late in the season, Blake Shapen took full advantage of the opportunity. The freshman started the Bears last two games and nothing phased him, especially in the win against Oklahoma State. In that game he completed 80 percent of his passes and threw three TD passes with no interceptions.
The challenge for the Bears is going to be slowing down the Rebels. They are not built to win high-scoring games. The lone time they gave up 30 or more points this season they lost to TCU. I am not sure they can hold back the Rebels for a whole game, which is why they will come up short in this spot. This will be a very competitive game, but the Rebels will have the ball last and get the Sugar Bowl win.
The post Sugar Bowl Prediction and Best Bet: Ole Miss to Outlast Baylor in Sweet Swansong for NFL-Bound Corral first appeared on Betting News.