Tag:Ray Graham
Posted on: October 22, 2010 3:14 pm
 

Below the Radar: Four other games to watch

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's easy to pick out this weekend's biggest games: LSU and Auburn , Iowa and Wisconsin , Oklahoma and Missouri . But every week there's plenty of interesting matchups -- no, really -- that don't feature ranked teams and don't make anyone's "must-watch" list other than the team's fans. Here's four of them you should keep an eye on regardless (all times Eastern):

Penn State (3-3, 0-2) at Minnesota (1-6, 0-3), 12 p.m. This one won't feature a ton of points (the Gophers and Nittany Lions rank 76th and 108th in scoring offense, respectively), and obviously it's not going to have much impact on the Big Ten race, either. But this is the game that could legitimately be the beginning of the end of the Joe Paterno era; the Lions might be able to stomach one humiliating loss (last week's 20-point home shellacking at the hands of Illinois ), but a second at the hands of the reeling, coach-less Gophers -- not to mention the accompanying 0-3 conference record and dwindling hopes of bowl eligibility -- could start the succession planning in earnest. The long-term implications alone make this contest critical.

Rutgers (4-2, 1-0) at Pitt (3-3, 1-0), 12 p.m. Both the Scarlet Knights and Panthers have suffered some serious nonconference pratfalls --- Rutgers' unthinkable loss to Tulane , Pitt's home bludgeoning at the hands of Miami -- but both got off to 1-0 starts in Big East play with big wins over UConn and Syracuse , respectively. This is the Big East, after all: once you get to 2-0, it's impossible not to call you a serious contender in the conference. The key matchup will be Pitt's fast-rising Ray Graham (118 rushing yards per game) against Greg Schiano 's 15th-ranked defense.

Kansas State (5-1, 2-1) at Baylor (5-2, 2-1), 3:30 p.m. There's honest-to-God Big 12 implications here; if Mizzou loses to Oklahoma late Saturday, the Wildcats could forge a three-way tie atop the Big 12 North with their own date against the Tigers still to come. But the stakes are probably higher for the Bears anyway; a win would push Baylor to six wins and a postseason berth for the first time since they played the 1994 Alamo Bowl. There's surprising talent on display here, too: Wildcat back Daniel Thomas is the conference's second-leading rusher at 130 yards a game, and Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin (14 TDs, 3 INT) has a Denard Robinson -esque blend of rushing speed and throwing accuracy.

Georgia (3-4, 2-3) at Kentucky (4-3, 1-3), 7:30 p.m. The storyline for this one is simple: the winner stays in the dead thick of the muddled SEC East race. Beyond that, last November the Wildcats used a bevy of Georgia turnovers to upset the Dawgs in Athens and have generally given Mark Richt 's team fits the past few seasons. If Richt wants to permanently silence the bleating for his head that began after Georgia's 1-4 start, he can't afford a second straight defeat at the hands of a team that's been Georgia's traditional inferior. Too bad for him the Wildcats have been feisty at home thus far this season, pulling one major upset against South Carolina last week and coming within one stop of doing the same to Auburn the week before. As long as Randall Cobb is around (even if Derrick Locke isn't), expect more feistiness to come, and for this one to come down to the wire.



Posted on: September 23, 2010 11:12 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2010 10:53 am
 

Miami knocks off Pitt 31-3

Posted by Tom Fornelli

As I said during the halftime update, this game was not very pretty, but in the end the Miami Hurricanes left Heinz Field with a 31-3 victory over Pitt.   The difference in this one was that while Miami cleaned up its act a bit in the second half, the Panthers most certainly did not.

Jacory Harris rebounded from his poor performance in the first half to throw touchdowns over the final two quarters, putting the game out of reach when he found Leonard Hankerson for a 19-yard touchdown early in the third quarter that made the score 17-0 'Canes.  Harris and the Hurricanes did suffer a bit of a scare in the fourth quarter when Harris had to leave the game after being sacked.  He would return on the next series and finish the night with 248 yards passing.

For Pitt, the best thing I can say is that at least the game is over and that it wasn't a conference loss, so hopes of a Big East title still remain, though at this point winning the Big East is like proclaiming yourself the smartest person on the cast of Jersey Shore.   Plus, there's no way this Pitt team can win the Big East -- even if it is horrible -- playing the way it did on Thursday night.

Dion Lewis struggled again, though a large part of it could be blamed on an offensive line that couldn't block a sled.  Lewis finished the game with 27 yards on 10 carries.  Ray Graham, on the other hand, had another strong night, tallying 100 yards on 10 carries -- though 42 of those yards came on one run in garbage time -- and also picked up 41 yards receiving so it's possible that Graham may see more touches than Lewis in the future.

After all, Graham was running behind the same offensive line as Lewis, yet he still found a way to move the ball.  If only there were any other members of the Pitt offense who could do the same.




Posted on: September 23, 2010 6:35 pm
 

Dion Lewis needs to show up tonight

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Last year Dion Lewis lit the Big East on fire, spending his freshman season running away from tacklers to the tune of 1,799 yards and 17 touchdowns en route to winning the Big East Offensive Player of the Year Award.  He entered 2010 as somebody to keep an eye on as far as the Heisman Trophy was concerned, but through Pitt's first two games the Lewis that was so electrifying last season is yet to show up.

Through Pitt's first two games Lewis has 102 yards.  Now, at first glance, that isn't horrible.  It's not good, but at least he's averaging 50 yards a game, right? 

Yes, but too bad it's taking him nearly 25 carries to get there as he's averaging only 2.9 yards a carry. 

Lewis' lack of production is a big reason why the Panthers enter tonight's game against Miami -- a pivotal game for both teams -- with a record of 1-1.  Lewis played well enough in the Panthers' opener against Utah, rushing for 75 yards, but how does a player so good wind up with only 27 yards on ten carries against New Hampshire ?

Lewis' play has been so lackluster that he's even in danger of losing his job, something which seemed impossible only three weeks ago.  Ray Graham didn't have nearly the same troubles as Lewis did against New Hampshire, rushing for 115 yards and two scores.  Now, going into tonight's game, Dave Wannstedt has called his two backs "interchangeable" and said there's no set plan on splitting carries between the two.

"We’ll go in this week knowing that they’re both going to play," said The Wannstache during this week's press conference .  "But with no specific plan that Dion (Lewis) will get so many carries, and Ray (Graham) will get so many carries. If we get a hot hand, we’ll play the hot hand."

In other words, if Lewis struggles against a Canes defense that has allowed 116.5 yards a game on the ground -- 181 against Ohio State -- he could find himself on the sidelines watching Graham tonight.  Which is definitely not something Dave Wannstedt wants to see.  If Pitt is going to live up to the preseason hype in 2010 and have a shot at winning the Big East and get to a BCS bowl, then Dion Lewis is going to have to return to his 2009 form.

Tonight is just as good a night as any to get started.
 
 
 
 
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