New Orleans, baby. The Crescent City. No. 12 Ole Miss and No. 16 Oklahoma State ringing in the new year in the Big Easy. Bourbon Street, Marie Laveau and the Superdome. The Rebels and Cowboys will reunite after a six year hiatus for perhaps the flashiest of the Jan. 1 matchups on the table, but the respective paths each took to New Orleans this season couldn't be more different. Let's examine Hugh Freeze's and Mike Gundy's 2015 report cards.
It feels strange to recall that Oklahoma State was unranked for the first two weeks of 2015 and didn't meet a ranked opponent until Week 9, when the Cowboys dismantled then-No. 5 TCU in Stillwater. That win over the Horned Frogs certainly marks OSU's most impressive victory on the year, whereas the Cowboys' self-immolation in the face of an unstoppable Oklahoma rushing attack and pursuant deletion from Big 12 title contention stands as their worst loss. All told, Oklahoma State finished the season 1-2 against ranked teams and 4-2 against teams with winning records.
Ole Miss, on the other hand, certainly played a more difficult schedule -- five foes were ranked at the time of their meetings -- but lost some undeniably perplexing games. Memphis, for instance, still stings like the dickens, and paired with the overtime heartbreaker against Arkansas, it's rather understandable to hear some screaming about the Rebs' such high status here at season end. Memphis was Ole Miss' worst loss, granted, but they of course picked off No. 2 Alabama early and No. 20 LSU and Mississippi State late. In contrast to the Cowboys, the Rebels went 2-1 against the top 25 and 4-3 against teams with winning records.
Within the Power Five clubhouse, which for Oklahoma State includes nine Big 12 opponents and for Ole Miss eight SEC opponents, the Cowboys fared somewhat better than the Rebs. OSU scored 369-313 (41.0-34.8 average) overall against their P5 foes where Ole Miss finished 258-210 (32.3-26.3). This aligns well with OSU's air raid mode of offensive attack, which eschews juggernaut defense in preference for points, points and more points.
|Record||S&P+ Rank||Strength of Schedule Rank||vs. Ranked Opponents||vs. Teams Above .500||Points Per Game (offense/defense)||Best Win||Worst Loss|
|No. 12 Ole Miss||9-3 (6-2 SEC)||7||42||2-1||4-3||40.3/22.8||@ No. 2 Alabama (43-37)||@ Memphis (24-37)|
|No. 16 Oklahoma State||10-2 (7-2 Big 12)||25||54||1-2||4-2||41.2/29.0||No. 11 TCU (49-29)||No. 3 Oklahoma (23-58)|
Vegas hasn't yet ascribed a consensus line to these two, but OddsShark currently holds Oklahoma State at No. 20 and Ole Miss at No. 26 in their power rankings. An over/under in the mid-to-high-60s isn't too far fetched of a prediction, but it'll be interesting to see who's favored and by how much once general agreement begins to form. Whatever the case, these teams will make for excellent appointment viewing.