College Football Picks: Ole Miss vs. TCU in Peach Bowl

Kevin Stott

Monday, December 15, 2014 1:18 PM GMT

Mississippi has played some great defense this season but will have its hands full here in Atlanta with a TCU team making the first-ever College Football Playoff. The Horned Frogs -3 is the pick here.

Odds Overview
#9 Mississippi vs #6 TCU: (TCU -3, Skybet), Wednesday, December 31, 17:30 (ESPN, 12:30 p.m. ET/9;30 a.m. PT):
New Year’s Eve Day starts out with some fireworks here in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta with #9 (AP) Mississippi (9-3 SU, 7-4-1 ATS) facing #6 TCU (11-1 SU, 10-2 ATS) in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in what should be a hard-hitting and entertaining game between two of the nation’s best college football teams as well as conferences—the SEC and the Big 12.

Oddsmakers have made Texas Christian 3-point Favorites (Skybet) in this contest with the Horned Frogs priced at -160 on the Money Line (Winner) marketplace and slight Underdogs Ole Miss at +140 (bet365). The Total Points is set at 56½ (William Hill) while the TCU Team Total Points is at 30 and the Mississippi Team Total Points is 26½ (Ladbrokes).

These two teams have never played before and this could end up being a defensive struggle between two very good defenses and a game with both scoring in the low 20s or a high-scoring, leave-it-all-on-the-field, pass-happy game with both in the 30s or higher. With the game being in the Georgia Dome, weather definitely won’t be an issue unless the main Janitor Supreme decides to turn the stadium thermostat down to 30° or up to like 100° to get back at his boss for giving him a 3-ounce wheel of Gorgonzola cheese and a $10 gift certificate to Radio Shack for Christmas.

 

Mississippi Rebels
Mississippi (10-3 SU L13) has beaten two of the best teams in the nation—#1 Alabama and #8 Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl—but both of those games were played in the friendly-for-them, hostile-for-the-visitors confines of Vaught Hemingway Stadium in Oxford and a 30-0 shutout loss to an Arkansas team which was riding the crest of a 17-game losing streak in SEC play just a week before and a year-end softie on the Rebels schedule (Presbyterian) must be questioned also. But this Ole Miss team is probably almost as good as it has ever been and the #1 Defensive Scoring ranking (13.8 ppg) speaks volumes for a team that plays in the toughest division (Western) of the toughest conference (SEC) in the land. Mississippi ranks #58 in Scoring Offense (30.4 ppg) and relies more on its Passing (#30, 275.6 ypg) than its Rushing (#61, 167.7 ypg) to try to move the chains on offense.

Leading the way for this team is QB Bo Wallace (3,085 yards, 22 TDs, 11 INTs, 61.2% completions), a 6-foot-4, 217-pound senior whose favorite target is WR Vince Sanders (39 receptions, 696 yards, 6 TDs), although TE Evan Engram (37 receptions, 651 yards, 2 TDs) also gets his share of the passes. RB Jaylen Walton (98 rushes, 583 yards, 6 TDs) is the Rebels leading ground-gainer but this is a team that has gotten to this point by playing phenomenal defense and winning the big game. But TCU will provide another massive test and the Horned Frogs match up very well with this Ole Miss team.

 

TCU Horned Frogs
TCU’s outstanding ATS record (10-2) is that way for a reason—Gary Patterson’s (88-78-1 ATS) teams played incredibly smart and consistent football and seldom, if ever, beat themselves and are usually underrated a bit by the general public and even a little bit by the College Football odds—but it’s the oddsmakers jobs to set numbers to attract equal betting action and not try to perennially tell us how good TCU or anyone else is. One area the Horned Frogs are always good at is in Turnover margin and this season is no different as TCU ranks #2 in the country (+18) with an average of +1.50 TO a game (TCU has committed 18 TOs while getting 36). Opponent Mississippi’s tied for 26th in the nation at +7 (+0.58 game) but it could be argued that the Rebels played a tougher schedule dwelling in the SEC’s Western Division. TCU’s only loss this season came to #4 Baylor in Waco (61-58) and only conference championship game wins by the Big Ten’s Ohio State and the ACC’s Florida State last Saturday kept the Horned Frogs from playing in one of the first-ever College Football Playoff semifinals on January 1.

TCU (12-2 ATS L14) is led by underrated QB Trevone Boykin (3,714 yards, 30 TDs, 7 INTs, 60.5% completions) and the Horned Frogs are #2 in the nation in Scoring (46.8 ppg), so one of the best defenses will be up against one of the most prolific offenses. TCU is 7th in Passing (332.8 ypg) and 37th in Rushing (209.3 ypg) with RB Aaron Green (111 rushes, 854 yards, 8 TDs) leading the ground attack for the Horned Frogs. Where TCU may have the slight edge is in receivers with Josh Doctson (59 receptions, 959 yards, 9 TDs) and the speedy Kolby Listenbee (38 receptions, 709 yards, 3 TDs), although Listenbee was listed as Questionable for the game with a concussion and his status and availability should be watched by anyone planning on making  a sizable bet on this game. Listenbee ran the fastest 100-meter dash (10.12 seconds) of any FBS player during track season and his presence would stifle the ability to solely concentrate on trying to stop Doctson. RB BJ Catalon (upper body) is also listed as Questionable for this Peach Bowl but there is still over three weeks between now and game time and expect players to play in important bowl games.

 

Best Betting Approaches and Trends
Obviously, there aren’t any series trends to help guide our College Football picks here but there are some pretty numbers—outside of TCU’s aforementioned 10-2 ATS mark—including Ole Miss’s 9-1 SU and 8-1-1 ATS record over its L10 bowl games and TCU’s 6-2 SU mark in its L8 bowl appearances. But the Rebels are just 1-4 ATS L5 and maybe the big question here is can this Mississippi team win the big game away from Oxford this season?  TCU has sort of proved it that it can ths season, with wins at West Virginia and Texas, but neither of those school’s football programs hold the same reputations they once did. This looks like a close game on paper.

TCU proved it was for real beating then #4-ranked Oklahoma, 37-33 in Fort Worth and its 41-20 pummeling of a very good Kansas State team also at Home showed how good this team is. Had the Horned Frogs somehow beat Baylor in Waco in Week 5, Patterson’s bunch would definitely be playing in one of the two CFP semifinals on New year’s Day with a chance to play to become the first real NCAAF college football champions at this highest level to actually win that title on the gridiron. And although Wallace is extremely talented, its seems that Boykin will find a way to steal the show here in Atlanta and get his TCU team both the win and the close cover.

Free College Football Pick: TCU -3 (5Dimes)