BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Bo Wallace threw three touchdown passes and Mississippi beat Pittsburgh 38-17 in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Saturday to complete an impressive turnaround under first-year coach Hugh Freeze.
Ole Miss (7-6) had a five-win improvement over its 2-10 finish in 2011.
Pittsburgh (6-7) struggled on offense as leading rusher Ray Graham was held out with a hamstring injury he suffered in bowl practice. The Panthers fell behind in the opening minutes after quarterback Tino Sunseri threw his first interception since Sept. 15 and trailed the remainder of the game.
Wallace’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Ja-Mess Logan gave the Rebels the 7-0 lead. Wallace added first-half touchdown passes to Randall Mackey, for 27 yards, and Vince Sanders, for 18 yards.
Pittsburgh, under first-year coach Paul Chryst, was making its third consecutive appearance in the bowl. The Panthers lost to Southern Methodist last year.
The Panthers played their last game as a Big East team. They are moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.
Wallace, chosen the game’s MVP, completed 22 of 32 passes for 151 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Ole Miss backup quarterback Barry Brunetti had a 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and freshman running back I’Tavius Mathers added a 62-yard scoring run midway through the fourth quarter to cap the rout.
NORTH DAKOTA STATE 39, SAM HOUSTON STATE 13
In Frisco, Texas, quarterback Brock Jensen ran for three touchdowns and Sam Ojuri scored twice as North Dakota State won its second consecutive title.
Jensen scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard sneak in the third quarter, and Ojuri had a 2-yard TD run on fourth-and-1 after the Bison (14-1) got the ball with a fourth-down stop.
The Bearkats (11-4) had a 40-yard touchdown run by Tim Flanders brought back by a holding penalty on the first possession of the second half, and Brian Bell’s second interception on the next play led to Jensen’s go-ahead score.
LEAVING EARLY: Michigan State defensive end William Gholston is skipping his senior season to enter the NFL Draft.
Gholston is one of three Michigan State underclassman to announce his intentions to turn pro, joining running back Le’Veon Bell and tight end Dion Sims.
• Rutgers running back Jawan Jamison elected to skip his final two years of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft.