The final bowl game before the college football playoff championship takes place on New Year’s Day as the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Ole Miss Rebels meet in the Sugar Bowl, to be played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA (8.30pm ET, Friday on ESPN).
The second oldest bowl game on the schedule, this is the first time Ole Miss and Oklahoma State will meet in the Sugar Bowl and only the third overall meeting for the Big 12 and SEC opponents, both of which were won by Ole Miss in the 2003 and ’09 Cotton bowls.
Among teams that have played in at least 25 bowl games in their history, Oklahoma State, with a 63 winning percentage, and Ole Miss with a 61, are two of the most successful, ranking in the top 10.
This marks the 9th appearance (third most of all FBS teams) for the Rebels, who have a 5-3 record but haven’t appeared in the Sugar Bowl since defeating Arkansas back in 1969. This will be the 37th overall bowl appearance for Ole Miss, which carries a 23-13 record and however, is coming off of a blowout 42-3 loss in last year’s Peach Bowl against TCU.
This will be the 27th bowl appearance for the Cowboys and just their second ever Sugar Bowl appearance of which they are 1-0. Oklahoma State carries a 16-9-1 record into this year’s bowl with their last game, last year’s Cactus Bowl, resulting in a victory over Washington.
Ole Miss opened their season in decisive fashion, winning back to back games against lesser opponents, scoring at least 70 points in both contests. The Rebels followed that up with a victory over Alabama. The team looked poised to take the SEC spot in the national semifinal before losses to Florida and Memphis derailed their hopes. Ole Miss lost another close game in overtime to Arkansas before finishing their season strong with victories over then ranked #15 LSU and #21 ranked Mississippi State.
Oklahoma State opened the season on one of the country’s longest winning streaks with 10 victories including a marquee one over then #8 ranked TCU. On their own path to winning the Big 12, the Cowboys dropped their last two contests of the year against #10 ranked Baylor and #3 ranked Oklahoma, which went on to win the conference’s outright title.
Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly Faces Favorable Defensive Matchup Against OK State
Oklahoma State’s pass defense has given up the 70th most completions of 20 yards or more this season and faces a matchup in Chad Kelly (pictured), who led the SEC in that category. If given the time, Kelly is likely to dominate over the OK State defense and there really won’t be much the team can do to stop him.
A risk-taker with an incredible talent level, the junior Kelly started just his first season in 2015, after backing up in Clemson in 2013. Kelly’s numbers are on par with top guys in the country including his 27 touchdowns (19th) and 3,740 passing yards (14th). On top of that, Kelly is a strong QB when it comes to his ability to scramble. Helped by an offensive line that was also one of the best in the nation, Kelly was sacked just two times in the last three games and zero interceptions in his last three as well.
The key for Oklahoma State is getting the pressure on Kelly, which has proved very difficult. If they can in fact do this though, Oklahoma State ranks top 20 in the country in interceptions.
OK State’s Up-Tempo Offense Could Cause Problems for Ole Miss Defense
One of the things that Oklahoma State has done better than many other teams this year is the up-tempo offense and this is in large part because of the success they have had with a two-quarterback system.
Oklahoma State is led by the tandem of Mason Rudolph and J.W. Walsh, two very different signal callers with different strengths. Rudolph is the pure passer and is the regular starter, although Walsh has also played in every game this year and has had significant impact in the red zone. Walsh is a run-pass threat and showed that this year with 13 passing touchdowns and another 11 on the ground. Rudolph meanwhile, ranked 15th in FBS in passing yards per game, averaging just a tick under 300.
Ole Miss’ defense is not built to stop this kind of dual attack, especially since they are now without five players, all of whom were expected to start and make a big impact at the beginning of the year. The most notable absences are two suspended players, Robert Nkemdiche and Tony Conner.
Oklahoma State ranks in the top 20 in the FBS in both total offense and scoring offense and without these two impact guys, Ole Miss could struggle to stop the Cowboys.
Our Preview’s Ole Miss Rebels vs Oklahoma State Cowboys Sugar Bowl Betting Picks
This is going to be a barnburner of a game, perhaps even the highest scoring of the slate of New Year’s 6 bowls. The game features two top offenses with both ranking in the top 20 in FBS in points per game, 41.2 for Oklahoma State and 40.3 for Ole Miss. Both teams also feature 1,000 yard receivers in OK State’s James Washington and Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell.
- The lowest that the total game points is set is at 67.5pts with the best sportsbooks, which given some of the numbers both OK State and Ole Miss have put up, should be easily surpassed. So go over 67.5pts @ -110 with BetOnline. It is over 68pts @ -110 with 5Dimes and -115 with Bovada.
- As for the spread, it favors Ole Miss by 7.5 points. Given this will be an offensive shootout; it’s not that hard to predict that the Rebels will be able to cover the spread while still putting up huge totals. Take Ole Miss -7.5pts to cover that spread in the win @ best odds of -105 with Bovada Sportsbook. It is -110 with BetOnline and 5Dimes.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.