2013 BBVA Compass Bowl Preview

January 5, 2013

I took a chance, and I paid dearly for it.

I will admit that, although I did believe going into last night’s game that Oklahoma’s senior leadership would give them a slight advantage, the overwhelming reason I chose the Sooners is because I knew that I could build a very difficult lead to overcome in Bowl Mania if they won.

While Bob Stoops was thoroughly embarrassed in Dallas, I lost any sort of chance I had left at winning my group for the first time since 2010. I will not use a similar strategy to pick up points again and that is mathematically the only way I can win at this point.

So, if you were following this blog the past few weeks to see if I could call myself the champion, you can stop. But if you’re actually getting some sort of satisfaction out of my misery, you’ll be happy to know that I will likely be experiencing similar emotions again sometime in late March.

As far as I’m concerned, the bowl season has one final game left. But the schedule tells me I’m wrong, so here is the preview for the game taking place on January 5th.

BBVA Compass Bowl (Saturday, 1 PM ET)

Pittsburgh vs. Mississippi

Don’t let my comments earlier make you think that these two teams don’t deserve to be playing in the postseason. They do, and I actually wish that this game (and the one on Sunday) took place earlier in the bowl season so that more people would be interested in watching. At any rate, both teams showed some life at the end of the year despite being 6-6 and this is a game worth watching if you’re looking to peg a couple of sleeper teams for next season.

Pittsburgh may have snuck into the bowl season after winning its final two games to become eligible, but the writing was on the wall since midseason that this team was getting better. Since dropping close games against the two best teams in the Big East in Louisville and Syracuse, Pitt is 4-2 with one of those losses coming to current No. 1 Notre Dame, a game many would argue the Panthers should have won. Paul Chryst’s team has improved offensively, with quarterback Tino Sunseri finally becoming less turnover prone in his final season and running back Ray Graham returning from an ACL-injury last season to lead the Panthers with 1,042 rushing yards. Offensively balanced and defensively sound against the run, the Panthers should have no problem keeping this game close against an SEC foe.

Similarly to Pittsburgh, Ole Miss started playing its best football near the end of the year. Close losses to Vanderbilt and LSU proved to the conference that the Rebels could hang with some of the conference’s elite and a lopsided victory over in-state rival Mississippi State provided the win Hugh Freeze’s team needed to play in this game. The Rebels have the best passing attack in the SEC you’ve never heard of with dual-threat option Bo Wallace at quarterback. Wallace accounted for 27 total touchdowns this season but is also turnover prone, throwing 15 interceptions. The sophomore will need to play smart as he is going up against a deceptively good Pittsburgh defense.

I think that both head coaches are a good fit for their team and are building a winner at their respective school. A win in this game could go a long way for a relatively young team in the offseason. Although Ole Miss may have the brighter future ahead of it, I like Pittsburgh’s defense to come up big in this game as it did to close out the regular season. I have the Panthers for 6 points in Bowl Mania.

My Pick: 21-13 Pittsburgh

– K. Becks

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