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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at 12:00 PM

College football fans are gearing up for the best bowls on postseason card. Arguably the single best lead-in to New Year’s will come early Wednesday when TCU battles Ole Miss in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl in a game you’ll be watching on ESPN.

If most computer assessments or the betting markets were in charge of determining the Final Four in the college tournament this year…TCU would be playing on the Sugar or Rose Bowl on Thursday. They were CLEARLY better than Florida State by all analytics has to offer. Most methodologies had them above Ohio State as well. It’s a crime TCU dropped to #6 in the final poll because the evidence was clear that #3 would have been more accurate.

For its part, Ole Miss was on the outside looking in because of three regular season losses. But, many respected assessments had them very much in the mix because of schedule strength. Las Vegas would have had the Rebels favored on a neutral field over Florida State (Mississippi State, who plays Wednesday Night vs. Georgia Tech would have been favored by about -3 or -3.5 over FSU!). Considering that Ohio State is playing with its backup quarterback in the Final Four, Ole Miss may have been favored over the Buckeyes as well.

So…TCU vs. Ole Miss is almost a “tournament caliber” game even if it’s “just” the Peach Bowl. A great chance for TCU to prove they should have gotten a bid. Ole Miss comes from the toughest division in the land, and surely won’t be intimidated by the Horned Frogs.

Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say about what’s shaping up as the best pre-tournament matchup.


Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)

Mississippi: 9-3 (#6 schedule in USA Today)

TCU: 11-1 (#44 schedule in USA Today)

Great stuff from both. Ole Miss would have been a 10-win team in any other conference. Possibly an 11-win team. TCU’s only loss was on the road at Baylor by less than the value of home field advantage. They probably drop to 10-2 or 9-3 if they play in the SEC West. These aren’t historically superpower programs. Both had elite seasons.



Mississippi: 6.3 on offense, 4.6 on defense

TCU: 6.8 on offense, 4.9 on defense

Ole Miss had one of the best defenses in the nation…as popping a 4.6 against a killer schedule represents fantastic consistency and effort. TCU was also strong on defense (with occasional lapses), while having the more explosive offense. TCU finishes with the better YPP differential at +1.9 to +1.7. Adjust for schedule strength, and it’s a virtual dead heat. Great matchup so far.


Turnover Differential

Mississippi: +7

TCU: +18

This is where TCU gets some distance…and part of why they were able to make a run at an undefeated season. The defense had 36 takeaways while the offense only lost the ball 18 times. Ole Miss had some badly timed turnovers in big games because of a stubborn quarterback. But, ending with +7 against a brutal schedule is something to be proud of. That’s 28 takeaways for Ole Miss by the way, in a conference that often plays conservatively on offense.


Market Performance

Mississippi: 7-4-1 ATS

TCU: 10-2 ATS

Two big moneymakers, adding up to 17-6-1 for backers. TCU was one of the most underrated teams in the country. The line is only now catching up to their true level of play. Ole Miss had some well-publicized disappointments…but was generally underrated as well. You can see why those who follow college football closely are so excited about this matchup!


Current Line: TCU by 3.5, total of 56

The market sees TCU as the better team…and it’s telling that the line has stayed above the key number of three since it first went on the board. You longtime bettors know how important the three is in football. Sharps didn’t take Ole Miss with the hook (the extra half a point). That means they prefer TCU…and probably see the “right” line as something closer to -4 or -5.

What are the Wise Guys seeing that’s not in the indicator numbers above? We’ll have to let the game play itself out. The math shows a very even battle. If TCU shows up with something to prove, that could be enough to put them over the top. But, if they come in flat because they’re disappointed about not playing for a title…then they could get caught flat-footed as so many “just miss” teams have before them in the postseason. TCU didn’t want to be in Atlanta for a lunchtime Wednesday kickoff this postseason.

JIM HURLEY knows that the pointspread winner here will probably be determined by TCU’s mindset. His on-site sources will let him know what they’re seeing in the hours leading up to kickoff. It’s INFORMATION like that which puts NETWORK ahead of the field in bowl handicapping!

You can purchase game day BEST BETS through the bowls right here at the website with your credit card. Tuesday’s tripleheader doesn’t begin until 3 p.m. ET. Ole Miss and TCU kick off Wednesday’s tripleheader at 12:30 p.m ET. If you have any questions about our “rest of football” page, or combination programs that include basketball, call the office at 1-888-777-4155.

It’s “playoff football” the rest of the week in the NOTEBOOK…

Wednesday: Early Look…#2 Oregon vs. #3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl

New Year’s Day: Sugar Bowl Preview…#1 Alabama vs. #4 Ohio State

Friday: NFL Wildcard Preview…Baltimore at Pittsburgh Saturday night on NBC

Saturday: NFL Wildcard Preview…Cincinnati at Indianapolis Sunday on CBS

Sunday: NFL Wildcard Preview…Detroit at Dallas Sunday on FOX

What a way to ring in the NEW YEAR! Be sure you GET THE MONEY every day this week with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

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