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A Pitt loss wouldn’t be a disaster, but it wouldn’t help Graham get to where he wants to go

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I just finished speaking with John Steigerwald on TribLive Radio, and he asked me an interesting question:
Would a Pitt loss to Rutgers on Saturday be a disaster for the Panthers?

I hadn’t thought about this game in those terms, largely because I don’t expect Pitt to lose. But strange things happen in New Jersey, even with Tony Soprano off cable. It wasn’t that long ago — three years, actually — that Rutgers had a four-game winning streak against the Panthers.

To answer John’s question, no, it would’t be a disaster — unless it causes an actual hurricane or earthquake. But, yes, it would be horrible in a football and program-growing sense for Pitt to lose to a team that was picked to finish last — by a wide margin — in the Big East preseason media poll.

The goal is to win the conference championship, go to a BCS bowl and validate coach Todd Graham’s way of doing things. Fans are so hungry for another bite of the BCS apple that falling short of that goal would create much finger-pointing among the fan base.

Graham is on the right track in putting together an attractive program, so he doesn’t want or need a loss to a bad team, even if Hopewell running back Rushel Shell announces his intentions to attend Pitt long before the end of the season (next Friday is Christmas Day,  by the way). A loss that drops Pitt to 3-3 wouldn’t be much of a selling point on the recruiting trail.

I don’t think Pitt will lose this game — someone even told me that the Panthers should win by 30 points, given the disparity in talent.

But here’s how it might happen:

The Pitt offensive line, manned by four first-season starters, gets confused by Rutgers various blitzes and defensive line stunts and allows four or more sacks. Hey, it could happen — Rutgers already has 14 sacks in four games.

Other than that, though, I can’t see it.

Pitt has clear talent advantages at almost every position, even the inexperienced offensive line. Those positions also include quarterback, where Rutgers coach Greg Schiano hasn’t announced  his choice between Chas Dodd and Gary Nova, and running back where the Scarlet Knights’ Jawan Jamison is 89th in the nation with an average of 66.3 yards per game.

If Pitt’s defense can contain Rutgers wide receiver Mohammed Sanu (43 receptions, 428 yards and five touchdowns) such as it bottled up Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd two weeks ago, Rutgers may not score a touchdown.

I expect safety Jarred Holley and outside linebackers Brandon Lindsey and Todd Thomas to play their best games of the season Saturday — and that’s saying something, because Holley has been outstanding through five games already.

Call it Pitt 24, Rutgers 10 as the Panthers hit the halfway mark of the season.

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Comments

  1. Florida Steeler says:

    Yep, great coaching job by the high octane guru. A complete FRAUD!!!! The Big East is bad but makes the wonder from powerful Tulsa look like a high school program.
    Graham has to use timeouts to be certain there are 11 players on the field. Total chaos on the Pitt sideline.

  2. Steve says:

    Well Jerry – The Pitt offensive line, manned by four first-season starters, got confused by Rutgers’ various blitzes and defensive line stunts and allowed four or more sacks. It happened. Just an awful loss. Complete implosion in all three phases of the game.

  3. Penn State beat Iowa the way Pitt should have this past Saturday. And I am quite certain that Penn State would’ve been better prepared against Rutgers than Pitt obviously was or JoePa would’ve demanded to know the reason why!

  4. Joe Hawkins says:

    Pitt leaving the Big East is just sour grapes. They didn’t like when Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida entered the Big East and soon to hate them becuz
    they were beaten up by them. They can join their buddies Miami,Va Tech and BC in the ACC. They will get beat up there too. The ACC is not necessarily better than the Big East. ACC has a couple really good teams. The Big East teams are all pretty tough.

  5. Todd "Its not my fault" Graham says:

    Joe,

    Pitt is leaving Big East for money fool!!!! Oh by the way, Walt used to beat VA TECH and BC. Rutgers fan’s better win this year because the BIG EAST IS DONE and Rutgers is an independent AGAIN.

 
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