Birmingham, AL – Bo Wallace threw three touchdown passes as Ole Miss eased past Pittsburgh, 38-17, in the BBVA Compass Bowl at Legion Field.
Wallace was named the Compass Bowl MVP after completing 22-of-32 passes for 151 yards and a pair of interceptions for the Rebels (7-6), who have won five straight and nine of their last 10 bowl appearances.
I'Tavius Mathers added 96 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown run, on six carries and Barry Brunetti also rushed for a score in the win.
Tino Sunseri went 16-for-32 through the air for 185 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for Pittsburgh (6-7), which was appearing in the Compass Bowl for the third straight year.
Devin Street led all receivers with 83 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions, while Mike Shanahan added 57 yards and a score on four catches in the Panthers' second straight defeat at this event.
Pittsburgh received the ball first and Sunseri connected with Shanahan for a 14-yard gain on the second play from scrimmage before Senquez Golson stepped in front of a Sunseri pass and returned the interception 19 yards to the Pittsburgh 23.
Five plays later, Wallace found Ja-Mes Logan over the middle for a 14-yard touchdown and an early lead.
The Rebels regained the ball at their own 28 following a Pittsburgh three-and- out, and Ole Miss converted a pair of short third downs on a 10-play drive Randall Mackey capped with a diving 27-yard touchdown reception on a seam route for a 14-0 lead with 5:22 left in the first quarter.
Ole Miss later seemed poised to add to its lead early in the second quarter when Mike Marry punched the ball out of Sunseri's hands during a sack to give the Rebels the ball at the Pittsburgh 44, but Jason Hendricks intercepted a Wallace pass three plays later to give the ball right back to the Panthers.
Pittsburgh also could not capitalize on the turnover, but an errant Wallace pass was picked off by K'Waun Williams at the Ole Miss 25 on the Rebels' next touch.
A personal foul penalty during a failed third-down conversion kept the ensuing drive alive before Sunseri stepped up in the pocket and found Street for a 10- yard score to bring the Panthers back within 14-7 with 7:13 left in the half.
The Rebels quickly answered, though, as Jaylen Walton's 49-yard kickoff return set up Ole Miss at the Pittsburgh 48 and Vince Saunders turned a short pass into an 18-yard touchdown five plays later to give the rebels back their two- possession lead.
"I think that's something to take pride in, that's always being able to answer, and our kids did," Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said. "When we play with great emotion, and we're pretty good when we don't hurt ourselves. The two possessions we did produce in the first half had penalties and turnovers, and I felt like we did some of the damage to ourselves. We didn't play great, offensively, until we got in our full tempo. Really, we just played okay, offensively."
The teams then traded a 47-yard field goal by Kevin Harper that skipped through off the right upright and a 31-yard kick by Bryson Rose to make it a 24-10 game at the break.
Ole Miss opened the third quarter with an 11-play march reaching as far as the Pittsburgh 24 following a defensive offsides penalty on a 4th-and-3 at the Pittsburgh 29, but the Rebels could not record another first down and Rose missed a 44-yard field goal attempt wide right.
The teams traded punts from there until Ole Miss regained the ball at the Pittsburgh 48 and Walton's 16-yard run on a 4th-and-1 moved the ball inside the Panthers 10, setting up Brunetti's 1-yard rumble across the goal line for a 31-10 cushion with 21 seconds left in the third quarter.
After Rushel Shell was stopped a yard short on a 4th-and-3 at the Ole Miss 40 on Pittsburgh's second touch of the fourth quarter, Mathers raced 62 yards untouched into the end zone on the next play to add to the Rebels' lead.
Sunseri connected with Shanahan for a 16-yard touchdown with 2:23 left in the game to account for the final margin.
It was the first-ever meeting between the teams ... Ole Miss' 38 points set a Compass Bowl record for the most points scored in the game ... The Rebels improved to 22-12 in bowl games ... Pittsburgh fell to 12-17 in bowls ... Walton carried the ball 10 times for 56 yards ... Shell finished with 79 yards on 25 carries ... Ole Miss held a 385-266 advantage in total yards.