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Trevone Boykin, TCU crush Ole Miss in Peach Bowl

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Mike Stewart / Associated Press
Trevone Boykin threw three touchdown passes to lead TCU to victory in the Peach Bowl.

TCU was ranked No. 6 in the College Football Playoff selection committee's final rankings, but it made a case that it belonged in the four-team playoff by hammering No. 9 Mississippi, 42-3, in Wednesday's Peach Bowl.


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The Horned Frogs (12-1) were No. 3 in the penultimate College Football Playoff selection committee top 25, but dropped to sixth in the final rankings. The Horned Frogs took out their frustrations on the Rebels (9-4), flexing their muscles from start to finish.

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TCU is known for its high-powered offense, but its defense was the key Wednesday, holding Ole Miss to 129 total yards. Senior linebacker Paul Dawson, who has been overlooked for most of the season, played well for a unit that was dominant. Ole Miss rushed for 9 yards on 37 carries and was 3 of 15 on third down. TCU uses a 4-2-5 defensive alignment, and its front six overwhelmed Ole Miss' sketchy offensive line. The Horned Frogs had five sacks and seemingly were in Rebels quarterback Bo Wallace's face on every pass attempt.

Dawson (6-foot-2, 230 pounds) and fellow starting linebacker Marcus Mallet (6-1, 227) are undersized seniors, but both showed off their quickness and sideline-to-sideline ability Wednesday. Mallet led TCU with 10 tackles, and he added a tackle for loss and a forced fumble, which he recovered. Dawson, who is underrated nationally despite being named the Big 12 defensive player of the year, had eight tackles and a sack, and also proved to be a pest in pass coverage. NFL Media analysts are high on Dawson: "He's always been known as more of a run-and-chase linebacker, and he's doing an even better job of playing in space now. He's become a very intriguing prospect."

TCU junior quarterback Trevone Boykin -- who should be a leading Heisman contender next season -- threw three touchdown passes and also rushed for 65 yards. He was 22-of-31, but most of his completions were for short gains, as he threw for 188 yards. He also threw three interceptions. But his escapability and ability to find secondary receivers confounded Ole Miss' highly ranked defense.


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Still, he can become a more refined passer, and another season working with co-coordinators Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham should help his pro prospects. Cumbie and Meacham were in their first seasons at TCU, and their work with Boykin and the offense was noteworthy.

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Ole Miss' "Land Shark" defense came in leading the nation in scoring defense, surrendering just 13.8 points per game. But TCU scored 21 points in the first 19 minutes of the game and cruised from there. The Rebels had allowed more than 20 points just twice this season and had held nine opponents to 17 or fewer points, including four games in which foes scored in single digits.

But Ole Miss looked overmatched from the beginning. The much-maligned Wallace threw the first of his three interceptions on Ole Miss' third play from scrimmage, and TCU scored on a double-pass on its first play from scrimmage.

Ole Miss lost its most talented player, sophomore offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, to a broken right leg in the second quarter.

TCU extended its streak to 15 consecutive games with at least one sack and one interception. The victory completed a great one-season turnaround for the Horned Frogs, who were 4-8 in 2013.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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