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2008 Cotton Bowl Preview

#7 Texas Tech (11-1, 7-1; Big XII) vs. #21 Ole Miss (8-4, 5-3; SEC)

January 2nd, 2009 @ 2:00 PM (EST) – FOX – Dallas, Texas



The Cotton Bowl is one of the most high profile bowl games every year and this season features two non-traditional powers having great seasons. Texas Tech’s high-powered offense combined with a newfound defensive prowess to propel the Red Raiders into the top ten while Ole Miss quickly rose up from mediocrity to win eight games in Houston Nutt’s first season.

Texas Tech entered the year with a lot of hype. This was finally supposed to be the year that the Red Raiders were able to match their excellent offense with a solid defense and that turned out to be the case. Their midseason win over Texas was one of the year’s defining games and their only loss came at the hands of mighty Oklahoma. Texas Tech isn’t just a popgun offense anymore either, as their tailbacks accounted for over 1,400 yards and 22 Touchdowns on the ground. Their defense has also been solid, holding opposing offenses in the country’s most explosive conference to less than 30 points all but three games this season.

Ole Miss, on the other hand, has built things a bit more traditionally. Nutt stepped into a great position this year as the Rebels were very talented but needed structure. Nutt put that structure in place and it quickly bore fruit in the form of a shocking 31-30 upset of Florida. The Rebels are the only team to defeat the Gators this season. The Rebels have been very good defensively this year, allowing only 17 points per game over the course of the season and during their season-ending five game winning streak they held opponents to a measly eight points per outing! Their offense is also solid and sophomore quarterback Jevan Snead was one of the country’s best quarterbacks down the stretch.

This game will be a good precursor to the National Title Game’s Big XII-SEC showdown. Ole Miss is very strong defensively but was their defense strong because they played against a number of weak SEC offenses? Texas Tech is exceptional offensively but was their offense so strong because they played against a number of weak Big XII defenses? I believe that the Big XII’s offenses are as good as advertised but Ole Miss’ defense is one of the country’s best, especially on the defensive line. Still, the Rebels won’t be able to keep pace with Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree unless Tech turns the ball over and the Red Raiders’ massive offensive line will be more than up to the task of giving him time to throw. When Graham Harrell has time to throw, he’s virtually unstoppable. As much as I like Ole Miss, I don’t think they have the firepower to keep up with Texas Tech and they’re unlikely to be able to slow them down (only Oklahoma held Tech under 30 points this year). Texas Tech will cap of the most successful season in school history with a strong win over Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl.

Cotton Bowl Pick: Texas Tech 41 - Ole Miss 27

 

by Matt Baxendell
CollegeSports-fans.com Staff Writer


 


 

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