The regular season is in the books and now all eyes are on the postseason for several teams across the country. The Red Raiders earned bowl eligibility for the first time in back-to-back seasons since 2012 and 2013 and are set to face the Ole Miss Rebels in the TaxAct Texas Bowl in Houston.
Texas Tech has played in the Texas Bowl twice in 2012 and 2015, making this trip their third appearance in program history. The Rebels face stiff competition week after week in the SEC, and technology will have their hands full in this confrontation.
Ole Miss is managed by head coach Lane Kiffin, who is in his third season at the helm. The team went 5–5 in the COVID-19 shortened season and beat Indiana in the Outback Bowl, but Kiffin’s team quickly improved. The Rebels went 10–3 and finished eleventh in the final 2021 AP and Coaches Polls, but lost to Baylor in the Sugar Bowl.
Going into this season, Ole Miss had high expectations. The rebels ranked 21st in the country and started off strong. They started 7-0 and climbed to ninth in the polls, but the second half of the SEC schedule hasn’t been kind to Kiffin and company.
A loss to unranked LSU left Ole Miss 15th, but a three-point win over Texas A&M put them 11th. A narrow loss to Alabama looked like just another bump in the road, but back-to-back losses to unranked Arkansas and Mississippi State dropped them entirely out of the Top 25 to end the regular season.
On offense, the Rebels are capable of producing huge numbers every game. They are third in the SEC in total offense, averaging 491.3 yards per game. The biggest name is running back Quinshon Judkins. The rookie accumulated 1,476 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also took home SEC Rookie of the Year honors. While Tech has controlled running backs this year like Bijan Robinson and Deuce Vaughn, Judkins will arguably be this year’s toughest matchup.
If Texas Tech’s defense wants to gain the upper hand, they have to make Jaxson Dart beat them at play. Dart is seventh in the SEC in passing with just 2,613 yards on the year, and has struggled the most down the stretch this season as the teams get into the Rebels’ rushing game. Malik Heath and Jonathan Mingo are the best receivers on the team, but have only accounted for nine touchdowns between them. Despite the loss of Tyree Wilson, Tech’s defense has still put pressure on quarterbacks for the last three games and that trend will need to continue this game.
Defensively, the Rebels are in the middle of the conference pack. Ole Miss is eighth in the SEC in total defense, yielding an average of 379.8 yards per game. Linebacker Troy Brown is their best defenseman, leading the team in tackles with 91. Despite the loss of Donovan Smith, who won’t allow Tech to run many goal-line reading options, Tyler Shough and the offense shouldn’t have too much trouble move the ball against the rebels defense.
The Red Raiders are 1–1 in the Texas Bowls, having beaten Minnesota in 2012 but losing to LSU in 2015. A win would give them eight wins for the first time since 2013 and consecutive bowl wins for the first time since the 2013 season. 2012 and 2013. With the extra practices and a bowl win in just his first season, confidence in Joey McGuire and “The Brand” would continue to grow.