Tag:Pittsburgh
Posted on: December 7, 2010 4:08 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2010 4:09 pm
 

Report: Wannstedt out at Pittsburgh

Posted by Chip Patterson

When Dave Wannstedt took over as head coach of the Pittsburgh Panthers before the 2005 season, his charge was to "bring Pitt to the next level."  At the conclusion of the 2010 season, the Panthers announced their bid to a bowl in January.  But it was not the January bowl that Panthers fans had hoped for out of Wannstedt's tenure.

Fanhouse's Brett McMurphy reported on Tuesday that Dave Wannstedt's time at Pittsburgh has come to a close.  After six seasons only added up to a 42-31 record, three bowl appearances, and no Big East titles; the Pittsburgh program clearly feels it is time to look elsewhere.

Frank Cignetti will fill in as the interim coach for that thrilling BBVA Compass Bowl against Kentucky on January 8 in Birmingham.  The bowl will have an odd feeling for Panthers fans, after watching Connecticut take the field against Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl a week earlier.  A month ago, the Panthers controlled their own destiny in the Big East, and looked ready to finally get that conference title Wannstedt was hoping for.  But after losing to the Huskies, and getting blown out by rival West Virginia, the Panthers found themselves jumbled at the top of the standings holding no tie-breakers.
Posted on: December 5, 2010 4:33 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2010 4:59 pm
 

Report: Bowl bids coming fast


J. Darin Darst


TampaBay.com is reporting that South Florida and Clemson will meet in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

KCBD-TV in Lubbock, Texas is reporting that Texas Tech has accepted a bowl bid to play Northwestern in the TicketCity Bowl .

Alabama.com is reporting Pittsburgh has accepted an invite to play in the BBVA Compass Bowl, which is the old Papajohns.com Bowl.

The Fresno Bee says Fresno State is headed back to the Humanitarian Bowl to play Northern Illinois. Interesting note, Fresno is 0-3 against teams with 10 wins this year, losing to Hawaii, Nevada and Boise State. Northern Illinois is 10-3.

The Dallas Morning News is also saying Baylor will be headed to the Texas Bowl. Fox Sports reported the info during broadcast of the Baylor women's basketball game.

The Detroit News says the Little Caesars Bowl is set with Toledo taking on FIU. That means Miami (Ohio), which won the MAC on Saturday night, will be headed to the GoDaddy.com Bowl.





Posted on: December 1, 2010 3:27 pm
 

Despite downfalls, Wannstedt confident for future

Posted by Chip Patterson

A week ago, many believed that both coaches in the 103rd Backyard Brawl were entering the game with their jobs on the line.  West Virginia stunned Pittsburgh at home, holding them to just one touchdown in the 35-10 victory.  While coaching rumors may have swirled with Bill Stewart retirement rumors, things appear to be fine in Morgantown as the Mountaineers still have a chance to win the Big East and earn a bid to a BCS bowl game.

The Panthers, on the other hand, will have to deal with a second (or worse) place finish in the conference despite controlling their own destiny at the beginning of November.  By dropping crucial late-season tilts against Connecticut and West Virginia, Pittsburgh stepped aside and allowed both teams to break through at the forefront of the Big East.  It was suggested that head coach Dave Wannstedt, hired to bring Pitt "to the next level," might have a closing window of opportunity in Pittsburgh.  His 41-28 record with the Panthers includes no conference titles, and only two bowl games in five seasons.  But Wannstedt seems confident his job is safe for now.

"We're trying to win Saturday," Wannstedt said at his weekly news conference. "I'm not concerned with [job security], we're just trying to beat Cincinnati. Trust me. We aren't going to graduate many players, we have a great future and a lot of recruits committed and a good young team coming back, really."

Wannstedt proceeded to list the key injuries and provide further explanation for the Panthers troubles.  But injury reports do not always work as appropriate excuses for unhappy fan bases.  When Pittsburgh was sitting in first place, I circled this date with Cincinnati as a trap game for a team with BCS hopes.  Now, it may have become a must-win for their head coach.  Even if Wannstedt has the support of the administration and his staff, the fans will be calling for answers if the Panthers drop three of their last four conference games in a season that started with a No. 15 ranking in the polls.
Posted on: November 28, 2010 3:47 am
Edited on: November 28, 2010 11:41 am
 

What I learned from the Big East (Nov. 27)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1.) With Win, South Florida Joins The State Elite - While Miami's loss to South Florida certainly jump-started some major program changes in Coral Gables, the Bulls' upset victory marked a significant moment in the USF program, and the career of first-year head coach Skip Holtz. South Florida has only been playing football since 1997, and only in Division I since 2001. The Bulls' victory over Miami gives a good portion of 2010's squad an in-state ACC sweep. A season ago, it was B.J. Daniels who stepped in for injured QB Matt Grothe to lead the Bulls to victory over Florida State in Tallahassee. This year, it was freshman quarterback Bobby Eveld who stepped in for the injured Daniels and led the team to a victory at Miami. Eveld completed only 8 of 15 passes for 120 yards, but managed the game well to help South Florida withstand a furious charge by Jacory Harris and the Hurricanes offense. For Skip Holtz, the win helped bring a good landmark for an otherwise rollercoaster first season as head coach for a BCS program. The struggling passing game did not spoken well for the offensive minded head coach, but Holtz has been able to coach up this squad from a 3-3 start to staring down a potential fifth straight 8+ win season. Accomplishing that will be more difficult than it sounds, with Jordan Todman and Connecticut coming to town playing for the conference title.

2.) Jordan Todman Leading Connecticut Title Surge - At the end of this definitive weekend in college football, South Florida was not the only new addition to make a statement in the Big East. Added to Division I officially in 2002 and the Big East in 2004, Connecticut stands one win from the first BCS bowl berth in program history. The Huskies have caught fire in the second half of the season, conveniently during the backlogged conference schedule. Wins over West Virginia and PIttsburgh has given Connecticut the tie-breaker edge against all the contenders, and now they control their own destiny. Much of the credit on the offensive end has to be credited to running back Jordan Todman. Todman has broken the 100 mark in 9 of his 10 games this season, and averaging 175.6 yards/game in his last three outings. Todman even left Saturday's showdown with Cincinnati and returned to finish with 31 carries on the day. So far there has been no stopping Todman, and if the Huskies can carry this win streak to the Fiesta Bowl Todman will start getting a lot more (deserved) attention from the league.

3.) Home Struggles Stain Otherwise Successful Season for Syracuse - The Orange have had one of their best seasons in nearly half a decade, but still something seems sour as Syracuse closed 2010 against Boston College on Saturday. After all, a team that hadn't seen a bowl game since 2004 should be excited about a seven win season. Right? Unfortunately, Syracuse fans will be asking the "What If's" for a long time after watching their team finish the season losing three home games in the last month of the season. At the end of October, Syracuse was 6-2 with a 3-1 conference record that had them in the early conference title talks. But the late season collapse that has been characterized by a stagnant offense has demoted the Orange to the middle of the pack in the Big East, simply playing for a bowl with better swag. As a former offensive assistant coach, those questions will have to be answered by Doug Marrone. However, it should be stated that Syracuse has done a great job turning the program around from their recent struggles. But when it comes time for season ticket renewals, don't be surprised if a 2-4 home record (0-4 against FBS teams) keeps ticket sales down in the Carrier Dome.

4.) The Backyard Brawl Could Have Two New Faces In 2011 - Heading into Friday's 103rd meeting of Pittsburgh and West Virginia, Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that the losing coach might find themselves in danger of becoming unemployed. After all the dust cleared in West Virginia's 35-10 manhandling of the Panthers, there is a chance that both schools could be looking for new head coaches for 2011. Predictably, the late-season struggles of the Panthers have Dave Wannstedt on the hot seat in Pittsburgh, but recent reports suggest that West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart may be considering retirement. Both teams have been perennially competitive for the better part of five years, but neither squad has been able to capitalize on their fast starts in 2010. Stewart fell into his position after Rodriguez departed for Michigan, and Wannstedt was brought in to bring the Panthers to the "next level." Trips to the Meineke Car Care Bowl do not exactly count as "next level," and Wannstedt might want to think about taking some pens home from work.

Posted on: November 27, 2010 2:24 pm
 

Connecticut capitalizing on opportunity so far

Posted by Chip Patterson

When West Virginia toppled Pittsburgh in the 103rd Backyard Brawl, Connecticut suddenly had a reason to extra thankful this weekend.  The Panthers loss opened up the Big East conference championship race to the Huskies and Mountaineers, with the prize of a BCS bowl berth at the finish line.  Connecticut has been on a tear since starting the conference season 0-2.  They have knocked off West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse on their climb up the standings.  Now with two weeks left, the Huskies own the tie breaker against the top teams in the conference and control their own destiny.  Connecticut has seized the opportunity so far against Cincinnati, leading 24-10 at half.  

Jordan Todman has continued his impressive performance on the ground, creeping up on the 100 yard mark in the first half.  Todman has broken the 100 yard mark in every game except a 26-0 shutout loss to Louisville, and is averaging 155 yards per game in the Huskies current win streak.  It is awfully impressive to think that a team that just joined Division I is on the verge of a potential BCS Bowl game, and a huge credit to head coach Randy Edsall for getting them to this point. 
Posted on: November 26, 2010 8:35 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2010 8:39 pm
 

Backyard Brawl sets up wild finish in Big East

Posted by Chip Patterson

So far in 2010, the Big East conference has lacked many defining or memorable moments in conference play.  Those moments that every team in the conference will remember that game that changed the landscape across the entire league.  It feels fitting then, that one of those performances came in the 103rd Backyard Brawl between Pittsburgh and West Virginia.  The Panthers entered the game sitting in the driver's seat on the way to a BCS bowl game.  A win over their rivals on Senior Day in Pittsburgh could put the Panthers just one Connecticut loss away from that coveted automatic bid.

Unfortunately, the Panthers have failed to shake the late-season struggles that crashed their conference championship hopes a season ago.  Pittsburgh entered this same weekend in 2009 undefeated in conference play, only to lose back-to-back games to West Virginia and Cincinnati to finish the season.  On Friday, Pittsburgh started this home stretch just like last year with a 35-10 loss to the Mountaineers in the Backyard Brawl.  With the win, West Virginia has turned around a disappointing middle of the season and set themselves up with a chance to win the conference.  

But the biggest winner in the Big East on Friday was Connecticut.  If the Huskies can pull out a win against Cincinnati at home on Saturday they will be one win away from their first BCS Bowl appearance in program history.  Connecticut just joined the conference in 2004, and nothing would be a higher compliment to Randy Edsall and his staff than to finish 2010 as the Big East Champions.  The best advantage the Huskies have in the race is owning the tie-breaker against both Pittsburgh and West Virginia thanks to their current three-game winnning streak.  

But with Pittsburgh's loss on Friday, it sets up a fantastic finish for the Big East title.  The Huskies control their own destiny, but with one loss could open the door for West Virginia.  West Virginia just needs a win next week and one Connecticut loss to clinch the conference, and Pittsburgh can still finally grasp that conference title with a win over Cincinnati and one loss from both West Virginia and Connecticut.  

Regardless of who your dog is in the fight, all eyes will be turned towards Storrs on Saturday.  The Huskies, the one team who controls their own destiny, will take the field against a Bearcats squad that has the chance to spoil title hopes for two teams.  Critics will argue that this finish is a result of season-long mediocrity, but the football fan in all of us is happy with the added significance to these late-season conference battles.      




Posted on: November 20, 2010 11:55 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2010 12:01 am
 

What I learned from the Big East (Nov. 20)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. It doesn't have to be pretty, Pittsburgh just found a way to win - It took almost three quarters, but the Panthers offense finally caught stride in the second half. A touchdown-less game saw back-to-back-to-back touchdown drives across a 12 minute span that put Pittsburgh up for good 17-10. Tito Sunseri efficiently led the way on the scoring drives, completing 8 of 9 passes in the second half. Dion Lewis was undoubtedly the Panthers' feature back, rushing 22 times for 105 yards and a touchdown. Avoiding a loss keeps Pittsburgh alone atop the Big East standings, as we creep closer to the end of the season and crowning of a conference champion. With only two other two-loss teams left, all eyes will be on the 103rd Backyard Brawl against West Virginia next week. A Panthers win would eliminate all other contenders except Connecticut, a West Virginia victory blows the race wide open with a week left.

2. At 7-3, West Virginia can thank their defense for success - While many teams fear the power and potential of West Virginia's offense, their success in the 2010 season can be credited mostly to their defense. The Mountaineer defense is among the top five in the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 12.9 points per game. No team has scored more than 21 points on West Virginia, Saturday's 17-10 victory over Louisville was another example of Bill Stewart's defensive unit closing out a game, pitching a second half shutout against a Cardinals rushing attack that entered the Saturday averaging 192.3 yards per game -- best in the conference.

3. Connecticut poses the biggest threat as a dark horse - On a three game winning streak, one of the conference's hottest teams is Connecticut. The Huskies have moved from winless and sub-.500 to one of three teams competing for a BCS Bowl birth in late November. The Huskies 3-2 conference record is good enough for second place, and with wins over West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse, they own the tie-breaker against the conference's best teams. If Connecticut wins against Cincinnati and South Florida, all they need is one loss from Pittsburgh and the Huskies will find themselves bowling in January. It would be quite an accomplishment for a program that just joined Division I-A in 2002.

4. Learning the scenarios for the Big East title contenders -
For Pittsburgh to win the Big East - Simply - win both of their remaining games. Can also clinch the division with a win over West Virginia paired with a Connecticut loss. Losing to West Virginia would blow the title hunt wide open with Connecticut taking a slight advantage by owning both tiebreakers.

For West Virginia to win the Big East - West Virginia needs to win the Backyard Brawl and defeat Rutgers in the season finale. They also will need a Connecticut loss in order to avoid losing the conference championship to the Huskies in a tiebreaker.

For Connecticut to win the Big East - The Huskies need a Panthers loss in order to get a shot, but victories over the Panthers and Mountaineers have given Connecticut protection in the event of any ties. However, the Huskies would need to win out as well, and after watching Cincinnati hang 69 points on Rutgers, there are no guarantees in the Big East.

Posted on: November 20, 2010 6:19 pm
Edited on: November 20, 2010 6:53 pm
 

Backyard Brawl could decide the Big East

Posted by Chip Patterson

With Pittsburgh and West Virginia collecting wins on Saturday, the road to a BCS Bowl game will run straight through the Backyard Brawl next week in Pittsburgh.  The 103rd meeting of the Panthers and Mountaineers is one of the most pivotal games remaining in the Big East title race.  Pittsburgh rode a hot second half from quarterback Tito Sunseri to a 17-10 victory, giving the Panthers a one game lead in the conference with two games left on the schedule.  

Syracuse, West Virginia, and Connecticut are the only remaining two-loss teams in the conference, and either the Orange or Huskies will pick up their third conference loss when they square off later this evening.  West Virginia will have a chance to tie the Panthers for the best conference record and own the head-to-head tiebreaker with a win next weekend.
 
 
 
 
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