Peach Bowl Staff Predictions: No. 10 Penn State vs. No. 11 Ole Miss
One more time.
No. 10 Penn State football and No. 11 Ole Miss will face off in the Peach Bowl at noon on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s the first time the Nittany Lions have ever played in the bowl and the first time they’ll face the Rebels.
Both teams finished 10-2 in the regular season and are trying to make history. With a win, Penn State will become the first program to win all New Year’s Six bowl games, while Ole Miss is searching to win its 11th game in a season for the first time in program history.
With that said, most of our staffers believe the Nittany Lions will outlast the Rebels on Saturday.
Aidan Conrad (8-2): Penn State 31, Ole Miss 27
Penn State will pull out a Peach Bowl victory to become the first school to win each of the six New Year’s Bowl games. Despite a handful of Nittany Lions already declaring for the draft, many have decided to play in the bowl on Saturday. They will be motivated to go out with a bang.
Cooper Cazares (7-2): Ole Miss 35, Penn State 24
This is a hard decision to make given the success Penn State had offensively in the last game of the season against Michigan State. There were finally chances taken downfield with some long-range throws that were successful, while also controlling the trenches from a run standpoint. However, this game has the makings for a shootout in which Penn State’s offense doesn’t compare to that of the Ole Miss Rebel offense.
Ole Miss will be the best offense the Nittany Lions have faced all year, finishing 15th in offensive rankings. The next best offense the Nittany Lions have faced all season? The West Virginia Mountaineers. Other than that, Penn State hasn’t faced an offense in the top 35 in national rankings. With Manny Diaz taking the Duke head coaching job and Chop Robinson declaring for the draft, I’m unsure how formidable the Nittany Lions’ defense will handle the task of containing Jaxson Dart and the Ole Miss offense.
If the Nittany Lions find themselves in a shootout or fighting from behind where they rely on their offense to push the offense down the field in a timely manner, they will be upset by Ole Miss in Atlanta.
Michael Siroty (5-0): Penn State 27, Ole Miss 24
Ole Miss is an offense-oriented team, while Penn State doesn’t have a very productive offense. Chop Robinson opting out of the game is certainly a big loss for the Nittany Lions, but I don’t think it’ll be enough to take away from the success on all three levels. It’ll be interesting to see how the average SEC defense of Ole Miss fares against the Penn State offense, or lack thereof. I’m expecting a fun one in Atlanta.
Fernando Martinez (8-1): Penn State 26, Ole Miss 20
History is on the line for the Nittany Lions, and I think they get the job done. Penn State can become the first college football program in history to win all the New Year Six bowl games, and it has a great opportunity to do that against Ole Miss. Even though there are a lot of questions surrounding Penn State going into this game with opt-outs and Manny Diaz leaving, I still think this defense is so elite and has a lot to prove with a new defensive coordinator coming in. The key to the Nittany Lions winning this game is Drew Allar and the offense playing good, complementary football and avoiding committing turnovers to win this game. For that reason, I expect big games from Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen.
As for Ole Miss, it had a similar season to Penn State’s. The Rebels won all the games they were expected to win and lost against superior teams in Georgia and Alabama. Their offense can test Penn State’s elite defense as it finished in the top 20 nationally in yards per game and points per game. However, their defense isn’t as good as Penn State’s and that could prove to be the difference in this game. I expect a very tight and close game, but I think the Nittany Lions come out on top and make history in Atlanta.
Mitchell Corcoran (7-2): Penn State 27, Ole Miss 17
Even with the departure of Many Diaz and the absence of Chop Robinson, I expect this defense to still be elite. Penn State ended the regular season first in the country in yards allowed and sacks and third in points allowed. Now, Robinson was a big part of this but having Adisa Isaac opting to play and Dani Denis-Sutton on the other side isn’t much of a downgrade.
Ole Miss, on the other hand, has a top offense in the country. The Rebels are 15th in offensive yards per game and have a superstar running back in Quinshon Judkins. Penn State allows just 57.2 yards per game on the ground, but I think Judkins is bound to rush for more than that. Judkins has only rushed for less than 60 yards three times this season and those three games were all in September.
Penn State’s offense has also struggled all season but looked optimistic during the 42-0 win over Michigan State a month ago. Ole Miss’ defense isn’t anything Penn State can’t handle either. The Rebels are tied for 42nd in points allowed and rank 59th in total defense.
Winning a bowl game against the 11th ranked team in the country with three interim coordinators is no walk in the park, but I think Penn State’s talent and depth will propel the Nittany Lions to a Peach Bowl victory.
Rico Gore (11-1): Penn State 21, Ole Miss 17
Prepare to watch some draft stock go up.
Nolan Wick (11-1): Penn State 31, Ole Miss 17
Ole Miss is a great team without a doubt, but I think Penn State is still going to pull off the victory despite losing Manny Diaz. The defense is still largely the same, and it’s hard to envision Anthony Poindexter installing something entirely different than what has been on display the whole season.
Additionally, this offense looks much better without Mike Yurcich. Saturday is an ideal day for Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen to have a field day playing against Ole Miss’ subpar run defense. Expect to see Beau Pribula a significant amount as Penn State is going to outlast the Rebels by winning the ground game.
CJ Doebler (10-2): Penn State 27, Ole Miss 23
I think the Peach Bowl is going to be decided in the fourth quarter. Penn State’s defensive players have repeatedly said they’ll be ready for Ole Miss’ high-powered and fast-paced offense, but it’s going to be different than anything they experienced during the regular season. Even though it seems like ages ago, Penn State is coming off one of its most complete outings of the season after putting up 42 points and 586 yards of offense against Michigan State while shutting out the Spartans inside Ford Field. I think the Peach Bowl is going to be a back-and-forth battle, but ultimately, the Nittany Lions will raise the trophy in Atlanta.
Joe Lister (10-1): Penn State 38, Ole Miss 31
It’s time for another New Year’s Six bowl win for Penn State, folks. I don’t have much to back up the idea that Penn State will win (other than that Lane Kiffin sucks), but it just makes sense. The offense is finally alive. The defense only lost Chop Robinson, and now we’ll get to see more snaps from Dani Dennis-Sutton and Amin Vanover. Penn State is a better team than people give it credit for, and the Peach Bowl will be the perfect chance to show this.
Keeley Lamm (10-2): Penn State 100, Ole Miss 0
I’ll never bet against the Nittany Lions.
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About the Author
The Nittany Lions participated in a max-out lifting session to mark the end of winter workouts.
Gaines was committed to the Nittany Lions for nearly a year.
Sophomore forward Tessa Janecke also earned CHA Player of the Year and Forward of the Year distinctions.