one of the most lethal combos in college football.
Karl Anderson/Icon SMI
Texas Tech (11-1) vs. Mississippi (8-4)
Jan. 2, 2 p.m. ET, FOX
Reason To Watch: To see potentially one of the most exciting games of the bowl season between two teams with some of the most impressive victories this season. Ole Miss was the only team to knock off Florida this season (in The Swamp no less) and beat the last two national champions (Florida and LSU) en route to its best season since Eli Manning led the Rebels to the 2004 Cotton Bowl. In fact, Ole Miss was winless in the SEC last season and had only won 13 games over the previous four seasons before Houston Nutt took over.
The Red Raiders were the only team to beat Texas this season, winning on a thrilling last-second touchdown reception by Michael Crabtree. A win for Texas Tech in this game would give the Red Raiders the most wins in the program's 84-year history. And while the Cotton Bowl will serve as a homecoming for many of its players, Texas Tech probably deserved better after being burried in the standings and the minds of pollsters after its lone loss of the season -- a 65-21 drubbing at the hands of Oklahoma, which sent the Sooners to the BCS National Championship Game and the Red Raiders to Dallas.
Keep An Eye On: Graham Harrell and Crabtree. This will be the final game of Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell's college career and also the last time Harrell will be throwing to two-time Biletnikoff Award-winning receiver Michael Crabtree. Through the first 10 weeks of the season, no two players were more exciting to watch than Harrell and Crabtree.
After the win over Texas, Harrell was the frontrunner for the Heisman with Crabtree not far behind, but the loss to Oklahoma not only knocked both players out of the title game but also Heisman consideration. This will be an opportunity for Harrell, who was second in the country in passing yards (4,747) and fourth in touchdowns (41) to add on to his Big 12 career records for yards and completions and potentially make him the all-time leader in touchdown passes -- he only needs two to pass Colt Brennan's record of 131.
Did You Know?: This will be the final Cotton Bowl in the 73-year history of Cotton Bowl Stadium. Next year the game will be played at the new $1.3 billion Dallas Cowboys Stadium.
Final Analysis: Ole Miss has won five in a row, largely on the back of a stingy defense which has given up 17.8 points this season -- 15th in the nation. But the Rebels have not seen an offense like Texas Tech, which puts up 44.6 points (Florida's offense didn't start clicking until after the Ole Miss loss). Mississippi quarterback Jevan Snead has led a balanced offensive attack that averaged 31 points per game and ranked third in the SEC in rushing and fourth in passing, but if this one turns into a shootout, it will be hard for the Rebels to keep up with Harrell, Crabtree and the rest of the Red Raiders.
The Pick: Texas Tech 42, Ole Miss 35