The Compass Bowl match-up

As soon as the Wisconsin job came open Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst’s name appeared at the top of speculation lists. He quickly stated he would not be a candidate, but that strong position has not removed all the buzz over his name for the still-vacant position. His position hasn’t changed, and he talks about the speculation — a little bit — here.

Pitt and Ole Miss are both 6-6. Chryst says his team deserves to go to a bowl and deserves to go to Birmingham — even though it’s their third-straight trip to Legion Field — because that’s where the Panthers are slotted.

While there was speculation and hope for something higher, the same applies for Ole Miss. The Rebels left a couple of wins on the table and could have slotted themselves higher.

Still, a team that was learning how to win this season, how to play together and build chemistry, doubled the win total that many expected for it this season and got half of those wins inside the SEC. It’s been an impressive debut for Hugh Freeze, and there’s a chance to build on that.

When you think of a Jan. 5 bowl game, you think of the MAC or Sun Belt, and there was indeed speculation that the Ole Miss opponent would be Louisiana-Monroe. When it all sorted out the Rebels ended up with a pretty good match-up against a team that ranks in the top 25 nationally in the four major defensive categories including No. 16 in total defense:

Rushing Defense 24 129.08 Alabama 79.77 3 Connecticut 97.92
Pass Efficiency Defense 22 112.71 Florida 91.59 2 Cincinnati 111.14
Total Defense 16 325.83 Alabama 246.00 3 Connecticut 309.92
Scoring Defense 21 19.67 Notre Dame 10.33 3 Rutgers 14.25

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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