Posted by Chip Patterson
UPDATE: As feared, Graham will undergo season-ending surgery to repair his injured right knee. The junior running back finishes the season with 958 yards on 164 carries and nine touchdowns. The Panthers will turn to Zach Brown as his full-time replacement. The senior from Royal Palm Beach, Fla. has seen action as a backup for the last four seasons. Brown's most productive season was his freshman campaign in 2007, picking up 568 yards and five touchdowns in relief action. In six games Brown has totaled 129 yards rushing and 136 yards receiving in 2011.
Pittsburgh may be struggling to get their offense going on Saturdays, but their weeknight primetime showings have been the exact opposite. The Panthers moved the ball easily on the Connecticut defense, on the way to a 35-20 win. Unfortunately, the Panthers may be forced to build on the victory without their star running back.
Ray Graham suffered a right knee injury on the second drive of the first quarter. Replay showed Graham clutching his knee on the way to the ground, and he was taken into the locker room on the medical cart with his knee iced. No further details have been provided, but the outlook is not hopeful for the breakout running back.
Graham entered the game as the nation's second-leading rusher, averaging 135.0 yards per game. In the midst of Tino Sunseri and Trey Anderson both struggling to get the offense going this season, Graham has been the lone highlight for the Panthers. Head coach Todd Graham should be encouraged by Sunseri's reaction to the loss of the team's primary producer. The junior threw for a career-high 419 yards and added 40 yards on the ground in a three touchdown performance.
After a sluggish start, the win puts the Panthers at 2-1 in conference play. If the defense can maintain the level of quarterback pressure they showed on Wednesday, and Sunseri can limit turnovers Pittsburgh has a legitimate shot at the Big East title. Cincinnati - the league's only unbeaten team - plays their next game in Pittsburgh. A victory over the Bearcats would move them into at least a tie for first place. But they will likely have to take on that challenge without Ray Graham in the backfield.
Keep here at the Eye on College Football for more on Graham's injury as it develops.
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