This Saturday prior to the national championship game features only one bowl game: the BBVA Compass Bowl with the Pittsburgh Panthers (6-6) out of the Big East taking on the Ole Miss Rebels (6-6) of the SEC, in afternoon (1:00pm ET) action from Legion Field in Birmingham, AL. Pittsburgh will be playing in Birmingham for the third consecutive year, the Panthers are 7-4-1 ATS this season and boast a 3,000 yard passer and a 1,000 rusher in the same season for the first time in school history. Ole Miss is 9-3 ATS this season, and the Rebels will be making their first bowl appearance since the 2009 season and have rebounded under Coach Hugh Freeze from a dismal 2-10 season last year.
The Pittsburgh offense ranks among the bottom half nationally in points scored, with 27.4 per game despite the presence of Tino Sunseri (3,103 yards passing) and running back Ray Graham (1,042 yards rushing, 13 TDs), the aforementioned 3,000 yard passer and 1,000 yard runner. Pitt ranks 60th among FBS teams in total offense with 400.4 yards per game, and the Panthers have been more successful this season through the air with 263 YPG passing (41st among FBS teams). The Pitt defense has been the strength of a mediocre team, ranking 19th in the country in scoring defense with 19.7 PPG allowed and 17th in total defense with 325.8 YPG allowed.
The Mississippi offense is led by dual-threat quarterback Bo Wallace (2,843 yards passing, 19 TDs, 15 INTs; 363 yards rushing, 8 TDs); the Rebels rank in the top half of all FBS teams in scoring offense with 30.9 PPG (51st) and total offense with 426.8 YPG (46th). Ole Miss ranks 69th among FBS teams in points allowed with 28.5 per game and 53rd in total defense with 385 YPG allowed. Their run defense was strong at the end of the season, allowing only 30 yards rushing in a 41-24 victory over in-state rival, and then number 25 Mississippi State on November 24th.
Pittsburgh vs. Mississippi Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Pittsburgh Panthers +3.5
@ Mississippi Rebels -3.5
Over 52 (-110)
Under 52 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Pittsburgh vs. Mississippi Pick:
Pittsburgh is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games, 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall and 8-2-1 ATS in their last 11 games following an against the spread win. Ole Miss is 3-0-1 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games on field turf, 14-4 ATS in their last 18 non-conference games and 7-2 ATS in their last 9 games overall. The under is 6-0 in the Panther’s last 6 bowl games, 7-0 in their last 7 games on field turf and 7-3 in their last 10 non-conference games. The under is 4-1 in the Rebel’s last 5 games after scoring more than 40 points in the previous game. Pitt lost the BBVA Compass Bowl last season to SMU by a score of 28-6.The Rebels have a 21-12 record in bowl games.
Both teams have been inconsistent this season as their very average won-loss records would indicate, but the Rebels finished the season strong and were able to defeat a tough opponent. The Rebels have the ability to run the ball as well as thrown it, and Coach Freeze may opt for a run-heavy gameplay against a Pitt defense that ranks 23rd in the nation with 196.8 YPG allowed through the air with 13 interceptions compared to 12 passing touchdowns allowed. Expect Ole Miss to come out ahead and cover the spread here as the Rebels faced much tougher competition in the SEC than Pitt did in their last season in the Big East. Ole Miss played some very tough teams close, including Texas A&M (30-27 loss), LSU (41-35 loss) and Vanderbilt (27-26 loss); expect the strength of schedule to win out here with a pair of mediocre teams facing each other. Take Ole Miss to cover.
PICK = Mississippi -3.5