The Sugar Bowl features two teams that had higher expectations going into the season, which usually is the case for this bowl. However, both Oklahoma State and Ole Miss should have plenty of motivation to win this Game. The Cowboys would love to take down an SEC team, while the Rebels need to put in a better performance after getting destroyed by TCU in last year’s bowl. The Rebels are a hefty -7.5 point favorite at 5 Dimes Sportsbook.
Oklahoma State hasn’t gotten much respect from the bookmakers all season long. The Cowboys started the year 10-0, but they never seemed like a team that would make the CFP. And so, they lost their final two Games, both at home, to Baylor and Oklahoma. After that great start, it was all taken away in the final two Games as their defense was taken apart for 103 points in two Games.
Ole Miss has a little different story, never really showing much consistency. The Rebels had that great win at Alabama early on, but then faltered in their next two road Games at Florida and Memphis. That said, they still finished second in the SEC West with nine overall wins and closed the season with wins over LSU and Mississippi State.
OK State had a rough season defensively, although part of that is playing in the Big 12. Still, giving up 27 points to Texas and 31 points to Iowa State can’t be too pleasing.
Both of these teams can score, which means there should be plenty of points. Unlike a lot of SEC offenses, the Rebels run through quarterback Chad Kelly, who finished the year with 3,740 yards, 27 TDs and 12 INTs. It was an impressive season for the first-year the starter, but at one point he threw 11 interceptions over the course of six Games. Kelly did finish the season with seven touchdowns in three Games and will hope to ride that high into the bowl. Top receiver LAquon Treadwell (1,082 yards, 8 TDs) is the main guy for Kelly and should be in for a big day. The Rebels aren’t great running the ball as Jaylen Walton leads the team with 690 yards, but Kelly leads the team with 10 TDs.
Much like OK State, the Ole Miss defense has been beaten up a bit throughout the year, although to a lesser extent. Giving up 53 points in an overtime loss to Arkansas was a low point.
Defending this Cowboys team is tough, though, especially if they get going. They came back from a number of big deficits this year and scored 41.2 points per Game.
The main issue for the Cowboys is the status of quarterback Mason Rudolph, who injured his foot in late November and got surgery on it at the beginning of the month. His status was still unknown in late December, but all signs pointed to him starting. While Rudolph had a good year, OK State has a viable replacement with J.W. Walsh. Walsh has good numbers this year in limited time and was used more as a runner, but he played most of the Game against Oklahoma and they only scored 23 points. The Cowboys never really got their ground Game going this year and that’s why Walsh was used so much as he ran it in 11 times. Speedster James Washington came on huge late in the season and should be in for a good Game after finishing with 1,077 yards and 10 TDs on the year.
A big loss for the Rebels in this Game is Robert Nkemdiche (top NFL DE prospect) and that should help OK State’s QBs get more time in the pocket. Even if Rudolph doesn’t play, the Cowboys should be able to keep up on the scoreboard.
The Rebels are 3-0-1 ATS in their last Four January Games and are trying to comeback from last year’s embarrassing 42-3 Peach Bowl loss to TCU. A win would be a big step for the Cowboys, after they lost to Missouri two years ago in the Cotton Bowl.
Our Pick – With the exception of their 1st Game of the year, and then their last Game against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State has hung 30+ points on the board everytime they have taken the field. That combined with the fact that Ole Miss gave up 27+ to Alabama, Florida, Memphis, Arkansas and Miss State, make Oklahoma State a very live dog here. Oklahoma State +7.5