ATLANTA (AP) — No. 11 Mississippi will play No. 10 Penn State in the Dec. 30 Peach Bowl, giving the Rebels their second New Year's Six bowl berth in the last three seasons.
The Peach Bowl matchup between the Southeastern Conference and Big Ten will be the first meeting between the teams.
“It's also pretty cool that Penn State has never played in the Peach Bowl,” coach James Franklin said Sunday. “It's unusual. In 2023 there are not too many things you can say haven’t happened.”
Ole Miss (10-2) will be making its third appearance in the Peach Bowl. The Rebels are 1-1 in the game, including a 42-3 loss to TCU following the 2014 season.
Penn State (10-2) closed its season by beating Michigan State 42-0 on Nov. 24.
Ole Miss closed its regular season with a 17-7 win over Mississippi State on Nov. 23. The Rebels lost to Baylor 21-7 in the 2021 Sugar Bowl in their previous New Year's Six bowl under coach Lane Kiffin.
“Obviously, we have a goal to do better this time around and have the first 11-win finish in the history of our school,” Kiffin said.
KOTELNICKI ON BOARD
Penn State hired Andy Kotelnicki from Kansas as offensive coordinator this week. Kotelnicki replaces Mike Yurcich, who was fired on Nov. 12 following a 24-15 home loss to Ohio State. Franklin said running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider and tight ends coach Ty Howle, who served as interim offensive coordinators the last two weeks, will continue in that shared role through the bowl game.
Franklin said Kotelnicki will “be able to sit in all meetings” and “get a feel” for the players. “So when the bowl game ends he can jump in with both feet."
NO REBEL OPT-OUTS
Kiffin said he's not expecting any Ole Miss players to opt-out to prepare for the NFL draft before the game.
“I would expect that we don’t have any,” Kiffin said. “We’re kind of not in one of those years where we have some first-rounders coming out that are concerned about injuries. ... I don’t think we have guys really in that conversation.”
STRENGTH VS. STRENGTH
Ole Miss ranks 15th in the nation in total offense, averaging 455.4 yards per game. The offense is led by quarterback Jaxson Dart, who has passed for 2,985 yards with 20 touchdowns and rushed for 377 yards with seven touchdowns. Rebels running back Quinshon Judkins has rushed for 1,052 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Penn State leads the nation in total defense, allowing only 223.2 yards per game. The Nittany Lions rank third with their average of 11.42 points allowed.
TOUR OF ATLANTA
The Rebels will have played in a different stadium in each of their three Peach Bowls. They beat Georgia Tech 41-18 in the 1971 Peach Bowl at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Ole Miss lost to TCU 42-3 at the Georgia Dome following the 2014 season. Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened in 2017.
BAKER STICKING AROUND
Ole Miss tight ends coach John David Baker, who has been named East Carolina's offensive coordinator, will remain with the team through the bowl game, according to Kiffin.
“I'm very excited about JDB getting that job and being able to call plays,” Kiffin said, adding Baker “can do both jobs and still coach for us.”
NEW YEAR'S SIX
The Peach Bowl has been part of the New Year’s Six since 2014 and hosted playoff semifinals in 2016, 2019 and 2022. Georgia beat Ohio State 42-41 in last season’s Peach Bowl playoff semifinal on its way to its second consecutive national championship.
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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football