BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Ole Miss returned to postseason play for the first time since 2010. In front of a BBVA Compass Bowl-record 59,135 fans, the Rebels cruised to a 38-17 win over Pittsburgh to finish the season 7-6, the program’s first winning season since 2009.
It was the program’s fifth-straight bowl win, which is the nation’s longest bowl winning streak, and 22nd overall, which is the 11th-most in the nation all-time.
Ole Miss jumped out early after sophomore cornerback Senquez Golson intercepted Pittsburgh’s Tino Sunseri on the first drive of the game
That interception set the Ole Miss offense up at the Pittsburgh 23-yard line, and sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace hit junior wide receiver Ja-Mes Logan from 14 yards out to put the Rebels up 7-0 early.
On his eighth-straight completion to start the game, Wallace connected with senior Randall Mackey for a 27-yard touchdown. In the second quarter, Wallace threw two bad interceptions, the second of which set up a touchdown for the Panthers to draw within a touchdown.
Ole Miss answered back wtih a 5-play, 48-yard drive, which took only 1:03, capped by an 18-yard touchdown pass from Wallace to sophomore wide receiver Vince Sanders to push the lead to 21-7.
Both the Rebels and Panthers added field goal late in the second quarter to bring the halftime score to 24-10, which tied the BBVA Compass Bowl for points in a half.
The third quarter failed to produce much action until late. Both teams failed to create many attempts except a 44-yard missed field goal by senior kicker Bryson Rose on the first drive of the half.
However, the Rebels got things on track with four minutes left in the quarter. Ole Miss put together a 10-play, 48-yard drive, which included a fouth-down conversion and capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by junior quarterback Barry Brunetti to take a three-touchdown lead into the final quarter.
With nine minutes left in the game, freshman running back I’Tavius Mathers sealed the victory for Ole Miss with a 62-yard touchdown run, a BBVA Compass Bowl record for his first career score.
The Panthers scored a late touchdown, but it was too little too late, at the two minute mark and the Rebels wrapped up a 38-17 win.
Wallace was named the BBVA Compass Bowl MVP. He finished the game 22-of-32 passing for 151 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Mathers led the way on the ground with 96 yards on six carries, followed by fellow freshman Jaylen Walton with 56 yards on 10 carries. Logan and sophomore wide receiver Donte Moncrief were Wallace’s favorite targets finding them both six times for 36 and 31 yards, respectively.
Defensively, junior linebacker Mike Marry made plays all over the field, finishing the game with seven total tackles, including four for loss, and a sack.