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Ole Miss, Pitt Position Advantages

By David Collier is a junior broadcast journalism major in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at Ole Miss.

Email him at: dlcollie@go.olemiss.edu

Follow David on Twitter @DavidLCollier

Ole Miss and Pittsburgh are two of the most evenly matched teams in the bowl schedule this season, so Saturday’s BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., should be a fun one to watch.

Here’s who has the advantage at each position.


Ole Miss sophomore Bo Wallace has had a good season, throwing for 2,843 yards and 19 touchdowns in his debut year for the Rebels.

However, 15 interceptions have held him back a bit, and Pittsburgh senior Tino Sunseri has outdone Wallace with 3,103 yards through the air with 19 touchdowns and just a remarkable two interceptions.

Advantage: Pittsburgh 

Running Back

Junior Jeff Scott gives Ole Miss a home run threat on every play, but Pittsburgh senior Ray Graham has rushed for 1,077 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.

Advantage: Pittsburgh 

Wide Receiver

Rebel sophomore Donte Moncrief is without a doubt the best receiver in this matchup. Moncrief has 948 receiving yards on 60 catches this year with 10 touchdowns, and junior Ja-Mes Logan and sophomore Vince Sanders have both added over 400 yards receiving as well.

Pittsburgh’s Devin Street and Mike Shanahan have combined for 1,818 yards and nine touchdowns on the season, but Moncrief, Logan and Sanders are too dangerous of a combination for a defense to defend.

Advantage: Ole Miss

Offensive Line

Ole Miss is averaging 169.7 yards on the ground this season, while the Panthers average 137.4. The Rebels also hold a slight advantage in pass protection – Ole Miss has given up 33 sacks, while Pittsburgh has given up 34.

Advantage: Ole Miss

Defensive Line

Both teams have given up similar numbers on the ground, but the Rebels have been able to generate more pressure on the quarterback with 34 total sacks on the year, including 21.5 from their front four. Pittsburgh has tallied 23 total sacks this season.

Advantage: Ole Miss


Ole Miss is led at linebacker by redshirt freshman Denzel Nkemdiche, who was named a freshman All-American by totaling 78 total tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, three sacks and three interceptions this season.

Junior Mike Marry has also added 71 total tackles and 6.5 tackles for a loss, while Pittsburgh’s three starters – junior Shane Gordon, sophomore Eric Williams and sophomore Todd Thomas – have all tallied around 50 tackles.

Advantage: Ole Miss


The Panthers are second in the Big East in pass defense, giving up just 196.8 yards per game. Junior free safety Jason Hendricks is their leader in the secondary, and the second team All-Big East selection has five interceptions and three pass breakups to go along with a team leading 73 tackles.

Ole Miss has had injury problems in what was already a young secondary to give them an inconsistent force at the backside of their defense.

Advantage: Pittsburgh

Special Teams:

Senior Bryson Rose has been consistent for Ole Miss at kicking field goals this season, but Pittsburgh’s senior kicker Kevin Harper has made 73.1 percent of his attempts.

At punter, Panther junior Matt Yoklic has a slightly better average than Ole Miss’ Jim Broadway at 41.1 yards per punt.

Advantage: Pittsburgh

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