Cotton Bowl Breakdown: Ole Miss-Texas Tech

ctsports picksAnalyst IJanuary 1, 2009

COTTON BOWL BREAKDOWN: Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech

The 2009 Cotton Bowl game will be the last for the historic Cotton Bowl. After this 73rd annual bowl, the game will move to the new Texas Stadium. After being left out of the BCS picture, they have to find new revenue streams, thus moving a to state of the art facility is mandated.

This year's game features another classic SEC vs. Big 12 matchup. Texas Tech and Ole Miss are very different in styles and should create a hugely interesting matchup. Oddsmakers also think this will be a very close game, as Tech is only favored by four points.

Mississippi will play in its first bowl game since a 2003 win. Under a new head coach, the Rebels finished 5-0 against moderate competition and beat BCS title contender Florida. The Rebels like to run; their efficient offense scores over 30 points per BCS game and ranks in the top 30 nationally in both points per play and yards per play. The Rebels' defense is also strong overall and exceptional at stopping the run.

The Rebels run more than they pass. However, sophomore QB Jevan Snead has played well and currently holds the No. 3 pass efficiency rating in the SEC. Mississippi has excelled at defending the run, ranking No. 6 nationally in rushing yards allowed per game (83.9). DL Peria Jerry ranks No. 9 nationally and No. 1 in the SEC in tackles for loss with 1.6 per game.

Texas Tech lost only to the No. 2-ranked team Oklahoma at Oklahoma. The Red Raiders throw the ball over 65 percent of the time, score 43 points per game, and average over 400 passing yards per game. Their defense compiled mediocre stats in a conference filled with high-octane offenses, but still holds opponents to lower than their typical scoring averages. It defends the run better than the pass.

Coach Leach has skippered Texas Tech for nine years and achieved a winning season and a bowl game in each one. He loves to throw the ball and has recruited the talent to make that strategy a success. Texas Tech has attempted more passes than any other team this season, and they gain 77.8 percent of their total yards through the air. WR Michael Crabtree has 18 receiving touchdowns on the season.

In an offense-dominated conference, the Red Raiders rank No. 72 in total defense, allowing 371.6 yards per game. S Darcel McBath averages 0.5 interceptions per game, NO. 5 in the country and No. 1 in the Big 12.

Texas Tech will play its ninth straight bowl game and has won four of its last five. Although the game is in Texas, distance traveled is similar for both teams. The Red Raiders are 4-1 against teams currently ranked in the top 40, while the Rebels are 1-2.

Many have put big money on Texas Tech since they beat Texas on national television, but remember, the SEC is a great conference, and Ole Miss beat Florida in the Swamp! Enjoy this contrast in styles.

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