The Rebels forced two turnovers from a team that had given it up just once in the last seven games.
The improving run defense was strong again. Pitt was playing without its top running back, but holding a team to 2.2 yards per carry is impressive regardless of personnel.
The defense also put pressure on Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri throughout the game, and the Ole Miss run game was strong even after Jeff Scott went out with a hamstring injury.
Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace threw two interceptions, taking a little shine away from his three touchdown passes. The picks were the result of poor decisions, something that Wallace was never really able to shake this season.
Keys To Victory
1. Cash in when you can. The Rebels did this immediately, turning a Senquez Golson interception into a touchdown. It wasn’t an easy drive for the Rebels even though Golson gave them great field position.
Wallace finally cashed in on third down from the 14. Later in the half Ole Miss answered the Pitt touchdown with a touchdown, taking advantage of Jaylen Walton kick return past the 50.
It was the early touchdown and the long drive on their next possession that allowed the Rebels to play from in front all day.
2. Sack Sunseri: The Rebels sacked Sunseri four times and created havoc in the backfield with 11 tackles for loss.
Pitt did have success running straight at Ole Miss at times but was unable to sustain that momentum. The Rebels held the Panthers to just 4 yards of offense in the third quarter.
3.Own the stadium: The attendance of 59,135 shattered the previous bowl mark, and the new record was not a joint effort. It was about Ole Miss fans who turned out in droves, making Legion Field a sea of red.
The Rebels’ fast start made it easy for the fans to get into the game, and that provided the energy Ole Miss players said they hoped to gain from the crowd.
Mike Marry. The Rebels’ middle linebacker matched his season high with seven tackles.
His four tackles for loss included a sack and caused fumble.
There was nothing Hugh Freeze could have done against Pittsburgh that would have equalled the giant pressure release the program felt by its dominating win against its in-state rival.
There’s a big difference though in a 7-6 record and a 6-7 record. The program can carry good feelings and lots of momentum into the off-season.