OXFORD, Miss. (WCBI/Ole Miss Athletics) —After a two-year hiatus, Ole Miss is renewing its rich bowl tradition as the Rebels accepted an invitation to the BBVA Compass Bowl on Sunday. They will face Pittsburgh (6-6) from the Big East Conference.
The game will be played at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., on Jan. 5, 2013 at Noon CT. It will be televised nationally on ESPN. Tickets are available by visiting www.olemissfb.com.
“We are excited to continue our great bowl tradition and accept an invitation to the BBVA Compass Bowl,” said Ole Miss Athletics Director Ross Bjork. “Congratulations to Coach Freeze and his staff for the fantastic turnaround in one year. I especially want to congratulate our seniors and the rest of the team for their hard work and for buying into the cultural change for our program.”
The Rebels have experienced a dramatic turnaround under first-year head coach Hugh Freeze. They are 6-6 this season after a 2-10 campaign last year, and Freeze’s up-tempo offense has yielded vastly improved conference and national rankings over last season.
Freeze is the sixth Ole Miss head coach to guide the Rebels to a bowl in his first season at the helm. He inherited a team with a 14-game conference losing streak, projected to finish last in the SEC West in the preseason, and led the Rebels to three SEC wins and three near misses.
Ole Miss knocked off Auburn, Arkansas and No. 24 Mississippi State, while nearly beating Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and No. 7 LSU after holding fourth-quarter leads against all three.
“I am so happy for our players, staff and Rebel Nation to be a part of the BBVA Compass Bowl,” Freeze said. “This accomplishment is a credit to our team’s hard work and dedication, and we are very appreciative of the opportunity. We have one of the richest bowl traditions in college football, and I’m proud of our staff for returning this program to the postseason in our first season. I’m so grateful to Rebel Nation for the amazing support this year, and I can’t wait to see The Grove recreated in Birmingham.”
Ole Miss is continuing a rich bowl tradition with its 34th all-time appearance, which is tied for 19th on the NCAA Division I list of all-time bowl berths. The Rebels are 21-12 in bowl games, with the 21 wins 13th-most in college football.
Ole Miss is 8-1 in its last nine bowl games dating back to a 13-0 win over Air Force in the 1992 Liberty Bowl. The Rebels’ only loss during that span came during the 2000 Music City Bowl, falling 49-38 to West Virginia. Each of the Rebels’ last three bowl appearances were in the Cotton Bowl with wins over Oklahoma State (2004 and 2010) and Texas Tech (2009).
“Birmingham is a sweet spot for Rebel Nation with over 115,000 alumni and so many more Ole Miss fans living in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee,” Bjork said. “Through the years, our fans have gained a national reputation of packing bowl games, and we expect them to give our team a home field advantage. In fact, we cannot wait to ‘Lock the Legion’ and continue the momentum for Ole Miss Football.”
The Rebels are 0-1 in bowl games against the Big East Conference, with the lone prior meeting against West Virginia in the 2000 Music City Bowl.
This will be the first ever meeting between Ole Miss and Pitt.
It’s the first time for Ole Miss to play in the BBVA Compass Bowl, which was established in 2006. It’s the Rebels’ first game at Birmingham’s Legion Field since Sept. 10, 1977 against Alabama. Birmingham was the site of all the Rebels’ road games against the Crimson Tide from 1965-77.