Sugar Bowl: No. 6 Baylor (11-2, Big 12) vs. No. 8 Mississippi (10-2, SEC), Jan. 1, 8:45 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Line: Mississippi by 1 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Series record: Baylor leads, 1-0.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Possibly a top-10 ranking and conference pride. Baylor is the Big 12 champion and is matched up with the third-highest ranked SEC team because the top two — Alabama and Georgia — both received bids to the four-team College Football Playoff. Ole Miss also has a chance to win 11 games in a season for the first time.
Mississippi coach Lane Kiffin’s SEC-leading offense, spearheaded by dynamic QB Matt Corral and averaging 506.7 yards per game, against Baylor coach Dave Aranda’s defense, which has held opponents nearly 12 points below their season average for their other games.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Baylor: RB Abram Smith has rushed for 1,429 yards and 12 touchdowns. He needs 119 yards in the Sugar Bowl to break the Baylor single-season record for yards rushing set by Terrance Ganaway in 2011.
Mississippi: QB Matt Corral has accounted for 3,936 total yards and 31 touchdowns. He ranks in the top 20 nationally in several categories, including total offense (328 yards per game), yards passing (3,339), completion percentage (68.4%), yards per pass attempt (8.8) and completions per game (21.7). Corral is one of only four QBs in the Football Bowl Subdivision with at least 20 TDs passing and 10 rushing.
FACTS & FIGURES
Baylor is making its third appearance in the Sugar Bowl and 26th appearance in a bowl game. … The Bears are 1-1 in Sugar Bowls, with its 1957 team beating Tennessee 13-7 and 2019 squad losing to Georgia 26-14. … Baylor has reached the 10-win mark for the sixth 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). … Baylor’s two losses this season were at Oklahoma State and at TCU. … Ole Miss is making its second straight bowl appearance under Kiffin. … The Rebels rank 21st among Division I teams with 39 bowl appearances. … Ole Miss is 12-2 in its last 14 bowl games on the field dating to the 1992 Liberty Bowl. … The Rebels’ defense is allowing 13.3 fewer points per game this season than in 2020. … Mississippi’s defense averages 3.3 sacks per game and its 39 total sacks this season are the second-most in program history, two fewer than the school record set in 1999.