Baylor vs. Ole Miss Prediction, Pick Against the Spread, and Latest Odds

Baylor vs. Ole Miss prediction and pick for this weekend's Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Handicapper Mike Spector previews this matchup between the SEC and Big-12 and gives his pick against the spread
Mike Spector |
Mon, December 27, 9:41 AM EST | 8 min read
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Baylor vs. Ole Miss Prediction, Pick Against the Spread, and Latest Odds

Baylor Bears vs. Ole Miss Rebels - Sugar Bowl

Spread: Baylor -1

Total: 55

Game time: 8:45 p.m. ET, Saturday

Where to Watch: ESPN

Baylor vs. Ole Miss Odds

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Baylor vs. Ole Miss Prediction

The Allstate Sugar Bowl is a matchup between the Big 12 champion Baylor Bears and the Ole Miss Rebels, an at-large team from the SEC. The point spread for this game is tied for the lowest of any of the five New Year’s Day bowls, so we should be in for an entertaining matchup. Here are our thoughts on who will prevail.

The Baylor Bears are arguably the most surprising conference champion of any team in the country. They were picked to finish eighth in the Big 12 Football Preseason Poll but instead went 11-2 and clinched their Sugar Bowl berth with a dramatic goal-line stand in the Big 12 Championship Game against Oklahoma State. Baylor overcame a lot of adversity throughout the year, as they entered the season with a void at quarterback after Charlie Brewer transferred. In addition, the Bears overcame an injury to starting quarterback Gerry Bohanon in the last three weeks of the season. They got great production from redshirt freshman Blake Shapen in wins over Kansas State, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State.

This year, Ole Miss was the third-best team in the SEC, but that is not a slight considering Alabama and Georgia met in the SEC Championship. While Rebels quarterback Matt Corral started the year as one of the frontrunners for the Heisman Trophy, not being invited to New York as one of the four finalists does not diminish an impressive season. Corral was the only quarterback in the country to finish with at least 3,000 yards passing and 500 yards rushing. He is a big reason Ole Miss finished fourth in the country in yards per game (506.7) and 18th in scoring (35.9 PPG).

Not only are these two of the best teams in the country, but this is a fascinating matchup between two teams that play the game in vastly different ways. Baylor wants to grind the game out, controlling the line of scrimmage and playing a physical brand of football that keeps the game as low-scoring as possible. Conversely, Ole Miss plans to attack Baylor with an up-tempo style that keeps their defense from often substituting. The Rebels want to turn this into a track meet and play with as many possessions as possible.

After starting the year with 43 points in four of their first five games, the high-powered Ole Miss offense did not top 31 points the rest of the season. The Rebels struggled with the SEC’s most dominant defenses, being held to 291 yards by Alabama and averaging just 2.3 yards per carry. Baylor’s defense is not thought of on the same level as Alabama’s, but the Bears rank 14th in the country in scoring defense (19.2 PPG allowed) and rank 16th in the country in rushing yards allowed per game. Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin’s offense is most successful when they have balance in the running game, which we expect Baylor to take away.

In addition, Baylor has a significant advantage up front, and we expect them to harass Matt Corral with constant pressure. One of the biggest reasons for Ole Miss’ struggles offensively relative to the beginning of the year was their inability to protect Corral. Left tackle Nick Broeker dealt with an ankle injury for much of the second half of the season and is a significant part of Corral being hit 195 times by opposing defenses, the 13th-most among FBS quarterbacks. Baylor ranked second in the Big 12 with 32 sacks and has four players with at least four sacks on the season. In addition, Corral has not been able to escape pressure as easily, as an ankle injury limited his mobility later in the season.

Baylor is 4-1 ATS in their last five neutral-site games and 9-3 ATS in their previous 12 games overall. We like the Bears to finish off their magical season with a Sugar Bowl victory, on the backs of a relentless defense that will stymy the Ole Miss offense.

Baylor vs. Ole Miss Pick

  • PICK: BAYLOR -1 (-105)

Mike Spector
@MikeSpector01

Mike Spector brings unmatched knowledge and insight into the game of football, and more importantly the process of betting on NFL football. Mike is the #2 ranked expert in FantasyPros' NFL betting contest

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