Sports Betting

Study the Rebel game logs before you place your bet on Ole Miss and Texas Tech

Ole Miss quarterback Jordan Ta’amu passes at  NCAA college football practice in Oxford, Miss., Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018.
Ole Miss quarterback Jordan Ta’amu passes at NCAA college football practice in Oxford, Miss., Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018. AP

Ole Miss quarterback Jordan Ta’amu has fans and bettors excited about the 2018 season. Ta’amu thrived in 2017 as a replacement for injured Shea Patterson, leading the Rebels to a 3-2 record in his late-season starts. That included a 31-28 upset of archrival Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl.

Now, the bad news. The bulk of Ta’amu’s monster stats came against very bad pass defenses. And the upset of Mississippi State was largely turnover driven. State won total yardage 501-355 in the season finale. Ole Miss eked out a close win thanks to a 5-2 edge in turnovers.

There’s a good chance Ta’amu’s 2017 game-by-game performances will have predictive value in the new season. Handicappers would be better served studying game logs rather than using full season totals.

Jordan Ta’amu Passing Lines

  • 20-30-1-368 vs. Arkansas

  • 31-40-0-382 at Kentucky

  • 28-36-1-418 vs. La. Lafayette

  • 19-34-1-189 vs. Texas A&M

  • 10-22-1-247 at Mississippi State

Fantastic numbers in those first three games. HUGE! Ta’amu had waited years for his big chance and took full advantage. More than 360 passing yards in all three. Ten incompletions or less each time with a lot of throws. That’s accuracy and volume. He did turn mortal when the schedule toughened.

Now let’s look at how those five opponents ranked in 2017 pass defense.

2017 National Pass Defense Rankings

  • Arkansas #93

  • Kentucky #103

  • Louisiana #108

  • Texas A&M #85

  • Mississippi State #12

We know Ta’amu can light up bad pass defenses. That’s a good omen for Saturday’s game against Texas Tech (who ranked #123 in pass defense last season). Look for betting spots this season where you can exploit that specific advantage … Ta’amu vs. a bad pass defense.

Numbers against Mississippi State are trickier to evaluate. Only 10 completions all night … but two of those were bombs of 77 and 63 yards for touchdowns. Ole Miss couldn’t move the ball effectively … 2 of 12 on third downs … 8-20-1-107 on his other passes. A lot of punts and a couple of quick strikes.

Asking Ta’amu to win or cover vs. the top pass defenses in 2018 is a much bigger gamble. He’s less accurate, less efficient, and you can’t just assume the big plays are going to happen.

With that in mind, let’s look at 2017 pass defense rankings for Ole Miss’ 2018 opponents.

2017 Pass Defenses of 2018 Opponents

  • Texas Tech #123

  • Southern Illinois (Subdivision)

  • Alabama #6

  • Kent State #27

  • LSU #21

  • UL Monroe #128

  • Arkansas #93

  • Auburn #14

  • South Carolina #69

  • Texas A&M #85

  • Vanderbilt #26

  • Mississippi State #12

Definitely some spots where Ta’amu is likely to shine. And Kent State’s “real” ranking is probably worse than that grading … because the MAC wasn’t exactly flush with quarterbacks last season. Game 3 against Alabama will be a great litmus test for what to expect on the other end of the spectrum against the likes of LSU, Auburn, and Mississippi State.

Professional wagerers have already been betting the Over in Saturday’s season opener vs. Texas Tech. An early Over/Under of 62 is up to 67 at midweek, though Texas Tech has been drawing respected money as a team side. An early line of Ole Miss -1 is now Texas Tech -2 or -2.5 depending on the shop. That suggests confidence in Ta’amu to make plays … but skepticism about the Ole Miss defense (only four starters back for a unit that ranked #116 in yards allowed per game).

Do you think Ole Miss has a chance to spring the small upset? Or, do you feel safer investing in a shootout? Best of luck however you play it, and with all of your picks in this first big weekend of college football action.

Jeff Fogle writes the daily VSiN newsletter. Sign up at