A precious New Year’s Six Bowl kicks off on New Year’s Day between the Baylor Bears and Mississippi Rebels.
Baylor has a magical season of improvement, going 11-2 and winning the Big 12 only one year removed from a 2-7 season. Ole Miss finished third in the SEC with a 10-2 record in Year 2 of the Lane Kiffin era.
Both teams have been a success story in 2021, but only one will finish with a feel-good ending. Will it be the Bears or the Rebels?
Read our picks and predictions for the 2021 Sugar Bowl between the Baylor Bears and the Mississippi Rebels on Saturday, January 1, to find out.
Baylor vs Mississippi odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
This line has been a roller coaster. Ole Miss opened -2 but moved to +1.5 within hours. After more line movement, Ole Miss is once again favored, now at -1.5. The total has jumped from 51 at open to 58 at current.
Baylor vs Mississippi predictions
Predictions made on 12/23/2021 at 8:00 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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Baylor vs Mississippi game info
• Location: Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, LA
• Date: Saturday, January 1, 2022
• Time: 8:45 p.m. ET
• TV: ESPN
Baylor vs Mississippi betting preview
Be sure to monitor the gametime conditions with our NCAA football weather info.
Baylor: Gerry Bohanon QB (Questionable).
Mississippi: Caden Costa K (Questionable).
Find our latest NCAA football injury reports.
Betting trend to know
Baylor is 9-3 ATS in its last 12 games overall. Find more NCAA betting trends for Baylor vs. Mississippi.
Baylor vs Mississippi picks and predictions
Our predictions are compiled from the analysis of the spread and total and are indications of where we are leaning for this game.
Our best bet is the play that we like the most for this game, which we would actually put some of our bankroll behind.
As of the time of this writing, both teams are expected to operate at close to 100% for the Bowl game. Opt-out and injury news will be key to monitor, especially on the Ole Miss side of things. Star quarterback Matt Corral has stated his intention on playing, which signifies his team’s mentality heading into the contest. Baylor quarterback Gerry Bohanon is questionable to go due to injury, but freshmen Blake Shapen performed admirably in his stead in the Big 12 Championship game.
Both teams have been profitable ATS in addition to having successful seasons. Baylor has been a cash cow at 9-4 ATS, while Ole Miss is no slouch at 7-4-1 ATS.
Despite the offense dropping off toward the end of the season, Baylor kept finding ways to win. Losing your starting quarterback for the Big 12 Championship would be a crucial loss for most teams, but not for Baylor — freshman Blake Shapen tossed three touchdowns in the first half against a vaunted Oklahoma State defense.
Dave Aranda has prepared his team for all obstacles. It’s been a magnificent coaching job in Year 2 for Aranda, who overhauled the staff after last year’s disappointing 2-7 finish. The changes have already paid massive dividends.
This team is well-coached defensively under Aranda, and we like them in this matchup primarily due to that fact. Ole Miss has the 9th-ranked rushing offense in the nation, averaging 224.7 yards per game. Baylor has limited opponents to only 3.5 yards per rush and should at the very least keep the Rebels from getting comfortable. Their RPO-based offensive attack works best when the run game is effective (think UNC last year), and Baylor presents a challenge in that aspect.
While the Rebels have improved mightily defensively following last year’s turnstile defensive approach, they’re still a step below the Bears in that regard. They’re susceptible to the run, so look for a healthy dosage of Baylor running backs Abram Smith (1,498 scrimmage yards, 12 TDs) and Trestan Ebner (1,048 yards, 4 TDs).
We’ll take the Bears to continue a magical season under Aranda.
Prediction: Baylor +1 (-110)
Unders have been the way to bet Ole Miss games all season, and we won’t switch up the formula for the bowl game. The Under went 9-3 in Ole Miss games this season, as the betting market was slow to realize the defensive improvements. The Under hit in each of the Rebels’ final seven games to end the season. It was never particularly close, either, as each of those games except one cashed with a two-score margin. The last time more than 54.5 points were scored in an Ole Miss game was way back on October 16.
Baylor has the ingredients to slow down Ole Miss. Jalen Pitre leads the charge with 17.5 tackles for loss and will be all over the field, per usual. Terrel Bernard, Dillon Doyle, and Matt Jones all finished with at least 7.5 tackles for loss. Baylor has managed to win four straight games without topping 30 points, so we’ll back them to win another somewhat low-scoring affair in the Sugar Bowl.
Prediction: Under 54.5 (-110)
Dave Aranda is a defensive mind and has a full month to prepare for the offensive genius that is Lane Kiffin. It’s truly a fantastic matchup that college football lovers can salivate over.
The Under has been on such a hot streak in Ole Miss games that we need to go back to the well one more time before the season ends.
Pick: Under 54.5 (-110)
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