Regular-season contenders from the Big 12 and SEC will put a bow on the New Year’s Day schedule as No. 7 Baylor faces off vs. No. 8 Ole Miss in New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl. The Bears finished first in the Big 12 for the first time since 2014 — and won the Big 12 title game for the first time ever — with a last-second tackle by former walk-on Jairon McVea to cap off a 21-16 win over No. 9 Oklahoma State. The Bears have not won a New Year’s Six or BCS bowl since the format started in 1998.
The Rebels won 10 regular-season games for the first time in program history in coach Lane Kiffin’s second season in Oxford, Mississippi. Ole Miss beat five of its last six opponents by double-digits, including a 31-21 victory over Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl.
Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral declared for the NFL Draft and offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby took a new role at Oklahoma. However, both key figures are expected to participate in the Sugar Bowl. Baylor does not have any notable opt-outs to this point. The Bears won the only previous battle between these two teams in 1975, a 20-10 decision.
Ole Miss vs. Baylor: Need to know
Battle of opposites: Opposites attract as Baylor’s No. 22 Expected Points Added defense faces off against Ole Miss’ No. 21 EPA offense. The Bears held every opponent to 30 points or fewer behind a Herculean effort from All-American safety Jalen Pitre, while Ole Miss cleared the 30-point plateau eight times. While Ole Miss is known for its quarterback play, the Rebels led the SEC with more than 224 yards of rushing per game. The only two better rush defenses Ole Miss played in 2021 held the Rebels to a combined 3.0 yards per carry. The battle up front could decide the game.
Dynamic skill talent: Ole Miss runs a…