2014 Peach Bowl Picks: Ole Miss vs. TCU Odds and Expert Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 12/15/2014
Wednesday, Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m. ET - Georgia Dome, Atlanta
The Peach Bowl is a decent place to end your season, but it's certainly not where either of these teams were dreaming of being this year. At some point both of these teams had real dreams of playing for - and winning - the National Championship. After upsetting Alabama and winning their first seven games, Ole Miss was the top-ranked team in the country and the darling of the media. But then the wheels fell off and they lost three of their next four - and the Peach Bowl became the best that they could have hoped for. TCU's dreams of glory were far more recent and real. They were the third-ranked team by the college football playoff committee heading into the final week of action, won 55-3, and were still passed by Ohio State and Florida State - and Baylor, for that matter. It was a crushing setback for the team and their conference, and a very controversial decision.
Peach Bowl: Ole Miss vs. TCU Storylines
After TCU was aiming for glory and wound up here, you have to obviously question their mindset. If you can name a winner of the Peach Bowl in the last 10 years you are more knowledgeable than most people. This is not a big game in the scheme of things - and winding up here is a massive disappointment for them after being so close to glory. To their credit, they have handled it well - at least publicly - and seem to have moved on from the disappointment better than Baylor has. Until we see the game, though, we can only speculate about what impact this has, how hard they practice and prepare, and whether we will see a version of the Horned Frogs that is a shadow of their best - or one that is highly-motivated to show the committee just how wrong they were.
While we just have to hope that TCU can be the team that they were in their last two games when they won by an average of 45 points, it's far more challenging to figure out which version of Ole Miss we will see in the game. Last time out they beat bitter rival Mississippi State 31-17, and they looked pretty good doing it. The game before that, though, they looked as bad as any team has looked at any point all season when they lost 30-0 to an Arkansas team that wound up only 6-6. A 48-0 win over Presbyterian means absolutely nothing, so they have now lost three of their last four against legitimate opponents, and it's tough to like this team much. This is also the team that beat Alabama, though. Let me put it this way - Ole Miss is probably good enough to win this game at their best, but seeing that best is far from a certainty.
The playoff is not the only thing that TCU fell just short of. Quarterback Trevone Boykin finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting this year. Typically as many as five finalists are invited to New York for the ceremony, but only the top three got the nod here. Again, the Horned Frogs were left on the outside looking in on the big boys. Will that be more fuel to fire the team up or more reason for them to quit?
There is an obvious storyline here above all else. Ole Miss ranks No. 1 in the country for points allowed, giving up just 13.8 per game. Their offense is fine but far from inspiring, so they win by frustrating and shutting down their opposition. TCU ranks second in the country with 46.8 points scored. Their defense is solid - though vulnerable against the pass - but they win by overwhelming opponents. This matchup is the definition of strength against strength - and that's what makes it so compelling. No one has really scored on Ole Miss, though Arkansas and Auburn did better than anyone else late in the season. TCU hasn't been held to fewer than 30 points all year. Both teams can't play their ideal game here. The one that comes closest will be the winner.
Peach Bowl: Ole Miss vs. TCU Betting Odds and Trends
The game opened with TCU favored by the key number of three points. Nearly 80 percent of all bets have come in on the Horned Frogs, so it is entirely predictable that the line has crept up to 3.5, and it seems likely to go higher. The total opened at 56.
Ole Miss is 4-0-1 ATS in their last five bowl games. TCU is 0-5 ATS over the same stretch. TCU is 4-0 ATS in their last four nonconference games but 0-7 ATS in their last seven neutral-site games. Ole Miss is 6-0-1 ATS in their last seven played in neutral sites.
2014 Peach Bowl Picks: Ole Miss vs. TCU Expert Betting Predictions
In a game like this you just have to take a side and run with it. I am absolutely with TCU. I trust Gary Patterson as a coach and expect him to have his team fired up and ready. Ole Miss was scored on by Arkansas and Auburn, and neither has an offense that can hold a candle to TCU's this year. TCU gives up some yards through the air, though their stats are skewed somewhat by the aerial ridiculous that the Horned Frogs and Baylor engaged in. They don't give up a lot of points, though, and I don't see how the Rebels are going to be able to do enough offensively to keep things interesting. I like TCU here - a lot.
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