[EDITOR'S NOTE - Thanks to @OleMiss_Logo for putting together this in-depth look at the Peach Bowl matchup. Outside of a few minor edits, the following content is completely his work]
The 2014 Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl between No. 6 TCU (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) and No. 9 Ole Miss (9-3, 5-3 SEC) is one of the most anticipated games of the bowl season. As a matter of fact, SB Nation named it the most watchable of the 38 bowls.
As you've probably heard by now, the game pits one of the most prolific offenses in the country against of the nation's stingiest defenses. Trevone Boykin and the Horned Frogs have piled up yards and points seemingly at will, while Cody Prewitt, Robert Nkemdiche and the rest of the Rebels' Landshark defense have allowed on average fewer than 14 points per game.
But let's go a bit beyond that. Using advanced metrics, we'll take an in-depth look at what the numbers say about this highly-anticipated matchup.
- Defeated four 10-win teams during the regular season (Memphis' bowl win over BYU gives the Rebels four wins over 10-win teams), all three of which are playing in Playoff Rotation bowls this postseason.
- Recorded wins over three conference champions (SEC, MWC and AAC).
- Faced only one opponent with a sub-.500 record (Vanderbilt). Ole Miss' opponents have a combined record of 91-42.*
- Led the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 13.8 points per game, 2.2 ppg better than the second-best school.
* Not including record vs Ole Miss.
- Named co-champions of the Big 12 alongside Baylor with identical 8-1 conference records.
- Defeated nine teams from the Power Five conferences.
- Finished the regular season second in scoring offense with 46.8 points per game.
- Head Coach Gary Patterson won the Home Depot Coach of the Year Award.
As you can see, this essentially sets up the nation’s best defense against the nation’s best offense, at least in terms of production. Now that you’ve taken a look at these stats, erase them from your brain, because they're meaningless. Let’s take a look at stats that will really give us a good look at this matchup.
Ole Miss offense vs. TCU defense
(For more information on what these stats are and why they're used, click here.)
One thing to note here is that Ole Miss’ offense is good for just under a field goal per drive or a touchdown every three drives. This is compared to a TCU defense that held opponents to a touchdown every five drives.
Ole Miss’ biggest hurdle will be finishing drives. In the few close games that TCU played this season, the Horned Frogs had a tendency to give up quick strikes. However, if their defense was able to force longer drives, the TCU offense was able to put the game away relatively early.
Ole Miss has had a good mix of quick strikes and long drives throughout the season, but the Rebels offense loves to turn up the heat after the defense forces a turnover. The Rebels have 104 points off turnovers this season, so the offense might need help from the defense to put them in position for a quick score or two to set the pace for the game.
Ole Miss defense vs. TCU offense
This is definitely the more intriguing matchup. The TCU offense is explosive and consistent. Horned Frogs fans can expect Boykin and Co. to finish a scoring drive every time they touch the ball.
On the flip side, the Ole Miss defense is like Ebenezer Scrooge as first introduced. The Rebels forced opponents into an average of three drives and 15 plays for every three points.
TCU has a proclivity for scoring fast and scoring often. Ole Miss is known for shutting down offenses. If the Rebels can slow the TCU offense early and give the Ole Miss offense good field position, then the Red and Blue will be in a good position to win the game. However, if TCU is able to put up points on the first few drives, the game could turn into a shootout that the Ole Miss offense is not likely to win.
Lastly, let's take a quick look at how the two formulas over at FootballOutsiders.com break down the two teams. One thing to note is that while the matchup looks to be lopsided in favor of the Rebels, the TCU defense has been underrated much of the season. Of course, when your offense is putting up over 45 points per game, it tends to get the media recognition.
In the end, while the matchup that everyone is excited about is the TCU offense facing the Ole Miss defense, it might just be the Rebel offense against the Frogs defense that determines the outcome of this game.