Pitt Vs. UConn: Panthers Can't Get Out Of Their Own Way, Lose, 30-28

For more on Pitt, check out Cardiac Hill.

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Pitt Vs. UConn: Special Teams Blunders Help Ruin Pitt's Spotless Conference Record

Pitt entered a tough weeknight matchup at Connecticut and came up short, losing 30-28.

You can never point to any one thing as the reason for losing a game. But, special teams, yeah, I’m looking at you…

Truth is special teams might not have been the only reason for Pitt losing this game, but it was, shall we say, a really big factor. Pitt had clawed its way back to take an eight-point lead in the third quarter, then promptly gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown. Ray Graham then came in the fourth quarter and fumbled a kickoff deep in Pitt’s own territory. UConn went in for a touchdown and the rest was history.

The normally reliable punter Dan Hutchins also had a shaky night with three punts 35 yards or fewer, including a 15-yard shank. And of course, there was the mysterious Jabaal Sheard non-punt block attempt I mentioned in the halftime update.

Tino Sunseri’s two interceptions (both in Connecticut territory) and the defense’s inability to stop Jordan Todman from doing his best Jim Brown impersonation also helped contribute to the loss.

Pitt now moves to 0-4 in prime time TV matchups this season and the bottom line is that the team should really be embarrassed by this loss. This was a game they clearly coulda shoulda won, but you can’t make those kinds of mistakes against any team and expect to win.

Pitt may still be the best team in the Big East, but we know one thing after tonight – the team really isn’t very good.

Check out the post-game analysis over at Pitt blog Cardiac Hill.

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Pitt Vs. UConn: Miscues Contribute To Pitt's First-Half Deficit

Pitt trails UConn 10-7 at the half due to a variety of miscues.

Tino Sunseri hasn’t looked sharp, throwing two interceptions. Both killed potential scoring drives, as Pitt was in UConn territory on both picks. Sunseri’s calling card has been protecting the ball and he’s been unable to do that so far tonight.

The Panthers have also fumbled three times but have recovered each time.

Jabaal Sheard also had a good chance at a blocked punt, but for some reason pulled up at the last second. He was clearly there in time for the block, but probably didn’t want to risk a running into/roughing the kicker call. Still, it was a big mistake as he could have given Pitt excellent field position.

Despite the mistakes, Pitt is still in the game and can win if it takes care of the ball in the second half.

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Pitt Vs. UConn: Greg Romeus To Start

Dave Wannstedt just announced in the pre-game that Greg Romeus will start tonight’s game. I’m a little surprised he’s getting the start right off the bat, but he must be ready.

It will be interesting to see how many snaps he plays.

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Pitt Vs. UConn: The Panthers Will Try To Maintain Their Big East Lead

The Panthers look to keep their Big East lead with a win tonight at Connecticut.

Pitt has had some trouble with UConn, so even in a year when the Huskies look less talented than Pitt, this could still be a difficult game. The Panthers are only 3-3 against UConn in their past six games.

The Panthers also have a few other things working against them, at least by past history. The game will be nationally televised and this season, the team has yet to win such a game (0-3). Defensive End Jabaal Sheard knows Pitt has another chance to turn some heads tonight:

“This is our week to show up on big-time TV,” said Sheard, who leads the conference in sacks (1.12 per game) and forced fumbles. "Everyone’s got to step up and play.

Another issue Pitt faces tonight is that of playing a team on a bye week. Since 2005 when head coach Dave Wannstedt took over, Pitt has been horrible in games after a bye, going 3-8.

The Panthers will do battle with Cody Endres, Michael Box, Zach Frazer, who is the Huskies third starting QB of the season. Connecticut struggles with its passing game and Pitt may look to disrupt the quarterback even more than normal. For the second straight time, Pitt will face a potential NFL running back in Jordan Todman. The Huskies’ hopes may be in controlling the clock and keeping Pitt’s suddenly potent offense off the field.

It’s still undecided if Pitt star DE Greg Romeus will play, but even if he does, he might not see too much action on the field as the coaches will probably look to work him slowly.

Check out my Q&A with The UConn Blog and game preview earlier this week over at Pitt blog Cardiac Hill.

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Pitt Vs. UConn: Panthers Try To Stay Ahead Of The Pack In Big East

Pitt plays UConn on the road at 7:30 PM on Thursday. To get us started, here are Anson Whaley's picks for the Big East games this week.

Welcome to elimination week, friends. With the Big East season in full swing, right now it's looking like Pitt, followed by everyone else. The Panthers' overall record isn't any different than that of other Big East teams, but it's the conference season that sets Pitt apart. As the only undefeated team in conference play, Pitt is looking like the favorite right now, as every other team has two Big East losses. Other than the Panthers, teams that fall this week will likely have no chance to win the conference championship. Here are picks for this week's games:
 
Pitt (5-3) vs. Connecticut (4-4)
The Panthers head on the road to take on a Connecticut team that looked buried a few weeks ago. That all changed when the Huskies went into West Virginia and pulled out a 16-13 OT win. But Connecticut lost to two teams that Pitt already beat pretty handily in Rutgers and Louisville. Playing a weeknight road conference game is always a tricky situation, but I think Pitt keeps its focus and wins this one. Pitt 30, UConn 17
 
South Florida (5-3) vs. Louisville (5-4)
These teams are both improving and are each 2-1 in the last three games. Both have played pretty good defense this year and rank in the top 30 in points allowed. We don't yet know if Cardinals' QB Adam Froman and RB Bilal Powell will suit up, so this is a tough game to predict. Assuming they do, I'll take the home team in this matchup, which could be a defensive struggle. Louisville 20, USF 13
 
Cincinnati (3-5) vs. West Virginia (5-3)
At the beginning of the season, this looked like it could be a key game in deciding the conference champion. Instead, it's virtually an elimination game. The loser will have three conference losses and, for all intents and purposes, be out of the race. Cincinnati can put points on the board when Zach Collaros is in the lineup, and it looks like he will be. But the Bearcats haven't really beaten anyone this season - their best win was a 35-27 victory at Louisville. Playing on the road at West Virginia is too great a task, especially with a defense that isn't very good. WVU 31, Cincinnati 21
 
Syracuse (6-3) vs. Rutgers (4-4)
Both of these teams are still alive in the conference race - barely. Both need to win out and hope Pitt loses three out of its last four games to have a shot at winning the title. So like the Cincinnati/WVU and USF/Louisville contests, this is essentially an elimination game. Syracuse has looked like the better team all season and, more importantly, is 4-1 on the road. They've actually been better on the road than at home (2-2) and I expect them to handle the Scarlet Knights. Syracuse 28, Rutgers 17
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