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Ole Miss defense braces for TCU in Peach Bowl

ATLANTA – Mississippi and TCU were part of the playoffs story in 2014. Each team was part of the chase. Each team fell short of the coveted semifinals.

The Peach Bowl on Wednesday provides an opportunity for No. 6 TCU (11-1) and No. 9 Ole Miss (9-3) to cap a top-10 season with a win, even though they’re not part of the playoffs.

Ole Miss vs. TCU

Ole Miss vs. TCU

Ole Miss beat No. 1 Alabama on Oct. 4 and rose to No. 3 before losing three Southeastern Conference games late in the season. The Rebels finished the regular season by beating No. 4 Mississippi State.

TCU had a strong case for inclusion in the inaugural four-team playoff. It was ranked No. 3 by the selection committee before crushing Iowa State 55-3. The Horned Frogs, Big 12 co-champions, tumbled to No. 6 in the committee’s final ranking while Ohio State moved into the semifinals.

As if the Horned Frogs didn’t already have a point to prove, they’ve been asked this week if they’re intimidated to face a SEC team in SEC territory. The Peach Bowl is played in the Georgia Dome, also the site of the SEC championship game.

“You said SEC country?” asked TCU center Joey Hunt. “I don’t know. We brought the Big 12 country. We’re just ready to play. I mean, I’m loving that it’s like an away game. I’m loving the atmosphere. The SEC atmosphere is bigger than the Big 12. It is what it is, but I don’t think anybody is scared up here.”

TCU running back Aaron Green was asked if the SEC setting was intimidating.

“No. Thanks for asking,” Green said.

The strength-against-strength matchup to watch is the Ole Miss defense, which leads the nation by allowing 13.8 points per game, against TCU’s high-scoring offense. The Horned Frogs, led by quarterback Trevone Boykin, average 46.8 points to rank second in the nation.

Boykin finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting after passing for 309.5 yards per game.

“I don’t know that we’ve played a team that has the tempo and the athleticism at the skill positions, that combination that TCU does,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said Tuesday. “I’m not quite sure we have faced that exact combination yet.”

by CHARLES ODUM, AP Sports Writer