September 1, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers linebacker Shane Gordon (44) sacks Youngstown State Penguins quarterback Kurt Hess (12) during the third quarter at Heinz Field. the Youngstown State Penguins won 31-17. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
Will Pitt rebound against Cincinnati?
Tonight Pitt goes on the road to face the Cincinnati Bearcats in what has quickly become a huge early-season contest. Neither team was picked by many to win the Big East, but starting out 1-0 in conference play will be a big step in the right direction for either squad.
The Panthers are fresh off their upset loss at home to FCS team Youngstown State. The Penguins simply took it to Pitt on their way to a two-touchdown victory and if that didn't wake this team up, nothing will. For Pitt, it was their first loss to an FCS team in school history - not exactly a great start for rookie head coach, Paul Chryst.
Making matters worse for the Panthers is that they're playing on only five days rest. With a late Saturday night contest, Pitt could be at least a little weary for their game tonight. The Bearcats, meanwhile, enter fresh and ready to go since they didn't play last weekend. There are lots of different ways to look at that and it could be argued that Cincinnati is at the disadvantage since they've yet to play a game. But to me, I'd rather have the extra preparation time. The Bearcats also have the advantage of having some game-film on the Panthers, while Pitt has none from this year to study.
One bright spot for Pitt was that Ray Graham played a good bit in the opener. His workload should increase even more for this game as he continues to get healthy.
Another thing to watch for is the type of defensive pressure brings against quarterback Munchie Legaux. Legaux enters the season for the first time as the starter and I expect to see Pitt a little more aggressive on defense. Last week, the team allowed quarterback Kurt Hess too much time to throw and that didn't work out so well. Pitt's front seven needs to mix it up a bit and really bring some heat to keep Legaux on his toes.
For more on the game and a live gamethread, check out SB Nation's Pitt blog, Cardiac Hill.