By: Scott Crumbly
SEC Digital Network
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Ole Miss made tremendous strides during year one of the Hugh Freeze era, and on Saturday the Rebels closed out the season with an emphatic 38-17 win over Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl.
Dynamic sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace emerged as a key player for the Rebels (7-6) this season, and he was influential once again against the Panthers (6-7). Wallace completed 22 of his 32 passes on the afternoon for 151 yards and three touchdowns, bringing his season total to 22 and moving ahead of Eli Manning for fourth all-time on the single-season list.
The Rebels were led on the ground by I’Tavius Mathers, who made the most of his six carries with 96 yards and a touchdown. As a squad, Ole Miss used seven different ball carriers to amass 222 yards on the ground. On the other side of the ball, the Rebel defense stymied Pitt and limited the Panthers to just 81 yards on the ground and just 267 total yards. The Panthers were outgained by Ole Miss by nearly 120 yards.
Ole Miss overcame two turnovers and six penalties in the first half to emerge with a two-touchdown advantage after the first two quarters. The Rebels controlled the second half, using a one-yard touchdown plunge from Barry Brunetti in the third and a 62-yard TD scamper from Mathers in the fourth to put the game out of reach.
Pittsburgh quarterback Tino Sunseri did not have an easy day against the Rebs, but he ended the game with 185 yards and two scores to go along with one interception. Rushel Shell led the way on the ground for the Panthers with 79 yards on 25 carries.
Passing: Bo Wallace, 22-for-32, 151 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: I’Tavius Mathers, 6 car, 96 yards, TD
Receiving: Vince Sanders, 5 rec, 39 yards, TD
Passing: Tino Sunseri, 16-for-32, 185 yards, 2 TD, INT
Rushing: Rushel Shell, 25 car, 79 yards
Receiving: Devin Street, 7 rec, 83 yards, TD
• Saturday’s BBVA Compass Bowl was Ole Miss’ first bowl appearance since the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2, 2010.
• Ole Miss has now won nine of its last 10 bowl appearances, including the last five in a row.
• Hugh Freeze is the sixth coach in school history to guide the Rebels to a bowl berth in his first year at the helm.