By Parrish Alford
NASHVILLE – It would have been easy for Bo Wallace to absorb every ounce of notoriety after earning Music City Bowl MVP honors, easy for him to say “look at me.”
Many Ole Miss fans did look at Wallace – and not in a nice way – after his four-turnover performance as the Rebels lost 17-10 in overtime at rival Mississippi State to wrap up the regular season.
Wallace redeemed himself in the bowl game, rushing for a career-high 86 yards on 13 carries and scoring on runs of 17 and 10 yards to lead Ole Miss past Georgia Tech.
He was 22-for-32 passing for 256 yards, a 28-yard touchdown pass to Donte Moncrief and one interception.
Playing about an hour from his hometown of Pulaski, Wallace was quick to share the spotlight with his teammates, especially an offensive line that was down to six experienced players with the absence of freshman Laremy Tunsil, the starting left tackle.
“I really felt comfortable back there, probably as comfortable as I’ve been all season,” Wallace said. “They gave me some great pulls. I was able to hit a few 9- and 10-yard runs, and that opens up everything else in our offense. This was their best game of the year, probably.”
Tunsil went down with an MCL strain against MSU. The Rebels were also missing Austin Golson, another freshman and key reserve.
On their last visit to Nashville the Rebels lost junior guard Aaron Morris, one of their most talented and experienced players to an ACL tear.
“I don’t know if people realize not having those guys that we were down to very few guys who had played quality snaps,” Freeze said.
One of those was senior Emmanuel McCray, who lost his left tackle job to Tunsil at mid-season.
Wallace was sacked twice, but pressure was sporadic, and Wallace had plenty of time in the pocket when he found Moncrief on the right side. Moncrief beat the Tech defense to the pylon, and Ole Miss led 13-7 after a blocked PAT with 7 minutes, 59 seconds left in the second quarter.
Freeze said he sensed a different intensity in Wallace’s preparation since the Egg Bowl.
“Quarterbacks in this league get way too much credit when things don’t quite go their way. People have bad days at work. I’ve had them, and Bo has had a few,” Freeze said. “I’ve also said there’s no way we’re sitting here with 15 wins and two bowl victories in two years had Bo not been with us.”