Big 12 Champion Baylor Bears plays explosive Mississippi in tonight’s Sugar Bowl

GAME 14
6/6/7 BAYLOR (11-2, 7-2 Big 12) vs 8/8/8 OLE. MISS (10-2, 6-2 SEC)
Jan. 1, 2022 • 7:45 p.m. CT • Watch: ESPN and ESPN App • Listen: ESPN Central Texas & TuneIn App
New Orleans, La. • Ceasars Superdome (74,295) • Social Media: @BUFootball | #SicEm

Story lines

• Baylor takes on Ole Miss in its 3rd Sugar Bowl appearance and its 26th all-time bowl game.

• BU is 1-1 in Sugar Bowl games, beating Tennessee 13-7 (1957) and losing to Georgia 26-14 (2019).

• Baylor is 13-12 all-time in bowl games, including a 2-6 mark on New Year’s Day.

• Baylor is facing Ole Miss for the 2nd time – the Bears won 20-10 in Waco on Sept. 6, 1975.

• Baylor won its 3rd Big 12 Championship (2013, 2014, 2021) and its first in a year with a title game.

• BU has reached the 10-win mark for the 6th time in the last 11 years (2011, 2013-15, 2019, 2021).

• Baylor has tied a school-record with 11 wins (11-2 in 2013 & 2014, 11-3 in 2019, 11-2 in 2021).

• BU has tied a school-record with 4 wins vs. ranked teams (4-1; BU was 4-3 vs. ranked in 1974).

• Baylor is 1 of 4 teams with 4 ranked wins this season – Baylor, Oklahoma State, Georgia, Alabama.

• Baylor’s only losses this season were at Oklahoma State and at TCU. BU had the ball down 3 or fewer points in the 4th quarter of both games before falling 24-14 at OSU and 30-28 at TCU.

• Baylor is 1 of 3 teams to not allow more than 30 points this season (Baylor, Cincinnati, Clemson).

• BU’s defense is holding opponents to 11.9 points/game below their scoring averages in all other games.

• Baylor ranks 9th nationally with 22 fourth-down conversions, including 8 times in its own territory, and BU ranks 17th nationally with a .667 fourth-down conversion percentage (22-of-33).

• The 11 times BU has been stopped on fourth downs have led to 17 points allowed on the opponents’ ensuing drives, while BU has turned the 22 fourth-down conversions into 86 points on those drives.

• BU leads the Big 12 and ranks 16th nationally with 214.7 rushing yards per game after ranking 123rd last season (90.3 ypg). Abram Smith is 8th nationally with 1,429 rushing yards (118 shy of school-record).

• Baylor’s O-Line has allowed only 1.38 sacks per game, 19th-fewest nationally. Half of the 18 sacks allowed came in two games against Oklahoma State (9 sacks allowed vs. 11 other opponents).

• BU ranks 7th nationally in interceptions (16) and 18th nationally in fewest interceptions thrown (6).

• BU’s defense has forced a turnover in 21-straight games and is 6th nationally in turnover margin (+0.85).

• BU is +18 in turnovers in 22 games under Dave Aranda (41 turnovers forced, 23 turnovers allowed).

ADDITIONAL NOTES

• Abram Smith national rushing ranks: 8th in yards (1,429), 17th in yards per carry (6.16), 37th in TDs (12).

• Jalen Pitre is the nation’s only player with 3+ forced fumbles, 3+ fumble recoveries and 2+ interceptions.

• BU had one 10-win season in the program’s first 109 seasons before doing so in 6 of the last 11 seasons.

• Baylor has 89 wins since 2011, tied for 2nd-most in the state of Texas behind only TAMU (92).

• BU is playing in a bowl game for the 10th time in the last 12 seasons following a 15-season drought (1995-2009).

• Baylor has beaten four top-20 teams this season: No. 14 Iowa State, No. 19 BYU, No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 5 OSU.

• Ten different Baylor players have intercepted passes this season, accounting for a Big 12-best 16 INTs.

• The Bears welcomed four new assistant coaches for 2021 – Jeff Grimes (Offensive Coordinator/TEs), Eric Mateos (Offensive Line), Chansi Stuckey (Wide Receivers) and Kevin Curtis (Cornerbacks).

• The Bears added a pair of experienced O-Line transfers with Jacob Gall (13 starts at Buffalo) and Grant Miller (16 starts at Vanderbilt). Four members of the O-Line now have a combined 127 career starts.

• BU is playing its 120th season of football and holds a 620-586-44 (.514) all-time record.

• BU has scored in 187-straight games, doubling the previous school-record of 89 games (Dec. 31, 1979 – Oct. 23, 1987).

• BU stopped Oklahoma State 6 times on the 1-yard line in the 4th quarter of the Big 12 Championship game.

• Baylor’s 3 Big 12 Championships are second-most in league history and have all come in the last 9 years. The rest of the state of Texas has 5 Big 12 titles – Texas (1996, 2005, 2009), TCU (2014), and Texas A&M (1998).

• BU’s win over No. 4 Oklahoma was its first top-5 win since 2015 at No. 4 Oklahoma State.

• BU scored 21 unanswered to overcome an 11-point 3rd-quarter deficit in a 31-24 win over Texas.

• BU had 534 yards of offense and played its first-ever penalty-free game in the win over No. 19 BYU.

• BU defeated No. 14 Iowa State on Sept. 25 for its first ranked win since 2015.

OLE MISS SERIES/SUGAR BOWL HISTORY

• Baylor and Ole Miss are meeting for the 2nd time. BU won 20-10 when the teams met in Waco on Sept. 6, 1975.

• BU held Ole Miss to 192 total yards, including 85 yards on 40 rushing attempts. The Bears ran for 340 yards on 53 attempts, led by Cleveland Franklin (140 rushing yards) and Pat McNeil (135 rushing yards).

• Baylor is 1-1 in Sugar Bowl games – a 13-7 win over Tennessee (1956) and a 26-14 loss to Georgia (2019).

NEW YEAR’S DAY BOWL HISTORY

• Baylor is 2-6 all-time on New Year’s Day, with wins in the 1949 Dixie Bowl and 1956 Sugar Bowl.

YEAR BOWL GAME MATCHUP RESULT SITE

1949 Dixie Bowl Baylor vs. Wake Forest W, 20-7 Birmingham, Ala.

1952 Orange Bowl #5 Georgia Tech vs. #9 Baylor L, 14-17 Miami, Fla.

1957 Sugar Bowl #2 Tennessee vs. #11 Baylor W, 13-7 New Orleans, La.

1975 Cotton Bowl #7 Penn State vs. #12 Baylor L, 20-41 Dallas, Texas

1981 Cotton Bowl #9 Alabama vs. #6 Baylor L, 2-30 Dallas, Texas

2014 Fiesta Bowl #15 Central Florida vs. #6 Baylor L, 42-52 Glendale, Ariz.

2015 Cotton Bowl #7 Michigan State vs. #4 Baylor L, 41-42 Arlington, Texas

2020 Sugar Bowl #5 Georgia vs. #8 Baylor L, 14-26 New Orleans, La.

For full Baylor game notes, click here. (PDF)

#7 BAYLOR (11-2) vs. #8 MISSISSIPPI (10-2)
FIVE KEYS TO SATURDAY’S SUGAR BOWL GAME 

  1. MAKE HISTORY: One of the teams in the 88th Allstate Sugar Bowl will make history with a win today. Baylor has recorded five 11-win seasons, including four in the last nine years, but a 12th would be a first. Ole Miss set a program record with its first 10-win regular season and is trying to get to 11 for the first time. “We felt like we redeemed ourselves in the Big 12 Championship,” senior running back/kick returner Trestan Ebner said of beat Oklahoma State, 21-16, this year after an overtime loss to Oklahoma in 2019. “We happened to make it back to the same bowl game that we lost, and now we want the chance to redeem ourselves and make history in Waco.”
  2. KEEP CORRAL IN THE POCKET: It’s kind of a catch-22 situation for the defense facing Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral, a projected first round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Corral’s thrown for 3,339 yards and 20 touchdowns with only four interceptions, but he’s also the Rebels’ third-leading rusher with 597 yards and 11 TDs on the ground. “We’ve got to have an effective rush,” Baylor defensive coordinator Ron Roberts said, “because, if he sits back there and has time to go to a second and third progression, he’s dangerous and keeps the sticks moving. The biggest thing is to keep him in the pocket, not let him extend plays where he can get out of the pocket and find those receivers downfield.”
  3. CONTROL THE CLOCK: One way to contain an Ole Miss offense that ranks fourth nationally, averaging 506.7 yards and 35.9 points per game, is to control the clock, sustain long drives and keep the Rebels’ offense off the field. The Bears should be able to run the ball against a defense that ranks 101st in rushing defense, allowing 183.2 yards per game and 4.3 per carry. “Just keep the chains moving, make people miss, run through people’s faces,” said senior running back Abram Smith, who’s eighth in the country with 1,429 yards rushing. “That’s what our mentality is, and you can get it from both (Smith and Ebner). It doesn’t matter who’s back there, we have that bully-ball mentality.”
  4. WATCH OUT FOR WILLIAMS: Whether it’s Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year Connor Galvin at left tackle or fifth-year senior Khalil Keith at right tackle, they will have their hands full with All-American defensive end Sam Williams. The former JUCO All-American, who has “first-round talent,” according to an NFL Draft projection, set a school record and ranks second in the SEC with 12.5 sacks. It might even take double-teams, but what the Bears can’t do is focus so much on Williams that they forget about Cedric Johnson on the other side. The 6-3, 255-pound sophomore has 6.5 sacks and 8.0 tackles for loss. 
  5. BEEN HERE, DONE THAT: While Baylor is back in the Sugar Bowl for the second time in three years, Ole Miss defeated Oklahoma State, 48-20, in 2016 in its only appearance in the New Year’s Day game in the last 50 years. The Bears are also playing in a New Year’s Six bowl game for the fourth time in nine years, but looking for their first in one of the traditional major bowl games since a 13-7 upset of #2 Tennessee in the 1957 Sugar Bowl. “It means a lot to be back, kind of seeing the scenery that’s familiar to you. The stadium’s going to be familiar,” Baylor senior safety Jairon McVea said. “We’re going to be more comfortable in the game. We’ve been here before, we’ve experienced the Sugar Bowl pageantry, but we didn’t win it last time. This time, we want to finish with a win.”

COURTESY BAYLOR ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

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