More from Parrish Alford soon. Hugh Freeze got a cold victory bath. While we wait what did you think? What stood out in the big Rebel win?
- Todd Vinyard, Online Editor
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – It was worth the wait.
Six weeks after closing out its regular season by defeating No. 24 Mississippi State to bring home the Egg Bowl trophy for the first time since 2008, Ole Miss (7-6) took down Pitt in the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., 38-17. It was Ole Miss’ first bowl appearance and first bowl victory since topping Oklahoma State 21-7 in the 2010 AT&T Cotton Bowl.
Ole Miss has now won nine of its last 10 bowl games and each of its last five. The win moves Ole Miss’ bowl record to 22-12. The Rebels’ 22 bowl victories are tied for the 11th most in the country with Auburn and LSU.
Ole Miss sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace, the BBVA Compass Bowl MVP, finished the game 22-32 passing for 151 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. The Rebels spread the ball around through the air with three receivers catching five or more passes. Freshman running back I’Tavius Mathers led Ole Miss on the ground with six carries for 96 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Playing in front of a predominantly red-clad BBVA Compass Bowl record crowd of 59,135, Ole Miss got off to a quick start. Rebels cornerback Senquez Golson dropped back into coverage and picked off Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri’s pass and returned it to the Panthers’ 23-yard line. Following Golson’s interception, which was just the third against Sunseri this season, Wallace capped off a five-play, 23-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Ja-Mes Logan to give the Rebels a 7-0 lead.
Wallace later completed his eighth consecutive pass to start the game with a 27-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Randall Mackey, who made a gorgeous diving catch in the end zone to give the Rebels a 14-0 lead.
Following a Pitt touchdown, Wallace completed his third touchdown pass of the game with an 18-yard strike to sophomore wide receiver Vince Sanders. The touchdown pass, Wallace’s 22nd of the year, moved him up to fourth on the Ole Miss single-season list, surpassing Eli Manning’s 2002 total of 21.
The Rebels closed out the first half with a 31-yard field goal from Bryon Rose that gave the Rebels a 24-10 lead going into the break. Ole Miss’ 24 first-half points tied the BBVA Compass Bowl record for most points scored in a half.
The Rebels stretched the lead to 31-10 when junior Barry Brunetti scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak with 21 seconds to play in the third quarter.
The Rebels’ defense gave up just four yards in the third quarter, and did not allow a single first down.
Mathers capped the scoring off for Ole Miss with a 62-yard touchdown run down the middle to break the BBVA Compass Bowl scoring record with 38 points.