BBVA Compass Bowl 2012: Pitt Falls To SMU, 28-6

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Pitt Vs. SMU: Panthers Crushed In BBVA Compass Bowl, 28-6

From the opening whistle, Pitt was never able to make this one a game. They fell behind early and never led in being routed by SMU, 28-6.

Anything that could have gone wrong for the Panthers did. Pitt was beaten on both sides of the ball and seemed unable to catch any sort of a break all day. There was the recovered fumble that was called back due to an inadvertent whistle, red zone blunders, and a fake punt conversion that was also called back to due to a false start.

If there was one thing that hindered Pitt today, it was probably the play of the offensive line. In the running game, they couldn’t open up any holes at all for freshmen Isaac Bennett and Corey Davis. The two combined for only 43 yards on the ground. The line also did a poor job of blocking on passing plays as Tino Sunseri was repeatedly sacked. Mark Myers also was sacked late in the game after replacing Sunseri and all told, SMU had a big day. Coming into the game, the Mustangs averaged less than three sacks per game, but against Pitt, they had seven. New head coach Paul Chryst’s first order of business may be to bring some of his experience to Pitt’s offensive line and get them to play a bit better. That will be hard, though, with the loss of Lucas Nix and possibly Chris Jacobson if he doesn’t get a medical redshirt for another year of eligibility after he was lost for the season early on.

On defense, Pitt couldn’t force SMU into many mistakes. For only the second time all season, the Mustangs avoided throwing any interceptions and quarterback J.J. McDermott was on his game. He didn’t have incredible numbers (16-25 for 240 yards), but the fact that he didn’t turn the ball over really gave SMU an edge.

In a nutshell, this was a disappointing end to a disappointing season – here’s hoping 2012 is a better year for the Panthers.

For more on the game and Pitt football, check out SB Nation’s Pitt blog, Cardiac Hill.


Pitt Vs. SMU Score: Panthers Being Outclassed In BBVA Compass Bowl Game, Losing 21-3 At Half

Down 21-3 at halftime, nothing seems to be going Pitt’s way. The Panthers have caught a number of bad breaks in the first half and haven’t been able to get much going on either side of the ball.

Pitt’s first bad break came after they recovered a short kickoff following an SMU fumble. But a referee made a horrible decision to blow his whistle inadvertently and the Panthers were forced to re-kick, again giving the Mustangs the ball.

Later in the half, the Panthers got deep into the red zone, but a Tino Sunseri was dropped and intercepted by SMU. Two trips to the red zone have resulted in a total of only three points.

As if that weren’t enough, the Panthers were in reasonable field goal range, but Tino Sunseri took a sack in the final seconds, forcing Kevin Harper to attempt a 47-yard kick. The kick had enough distance, but went left and hit the upright, bouncing off to the side.

The biggest problem on offense has been the lack of a rushing game. Zach Brown, who took over the starting duties from Ray Graham, is out and the tandem of true freshmen Corey Davis and Isaac Bennett haven’t produced much. The Panthers have a meager nine (no, that’s not a typo) rushing yards on the afternoon.

For a live blog of the game and more on Pitt football, check out SB Nation’s Pitt blog, Cardiac Hill.


Pitt Vs. SMU Score: Panthers Trying To Rebound In BBVA Compass Bowl, Trailing 21-3

Pitt continues to struggle against SMU into the second quarter of the BBVA Compass Bowl, but are starting to show some signs of life. The Panthers allowed another Mustangs touchdown after quarterback Tino Sunseri fumbled the ball and trailed 21-0. On the ensuing drive, though, Pitt was able to finally get on the board with a field goal and now trail 21-3.

Pitt then kicked a surprise short kick and recovered an SMU fumble. However, a referee inadvertently blew a whistle and forced the Panthers to re-kick.

Even though Pitt caught a really (and I can’t stress ‘really’ enough), they are at least showing some small signs of life. The defense then forced SMU into a three and out and got the ball back. The Panthers still look furious on the sidelines and appear to have waken up a bit.

The Panthers haven’t gotten anything going offensively. With a few sacks, Pitt is actually in negative yardage.

For more on the game, check out SB Nation’s Pitt blog, Cardiac Hill.


BBVA Compass Bowl: Pitt Trails 14-0 Against SMU

Pitt found itself in a similar situation last year, playing a bowl game under an interim coach. It didn’t matter then, though, but so far this year it looks like it’s affecting the team.

The Panthers are off to a sluggish start and already trail SMU 14-0 in the first quarter.

Pitt QB Tino Sunseri has been off to a slow start and Pitt hasn’t gotten going offensively. SMU, on the other hand, has been taking it to the Panthers’ defense. After both teams punted once, Mustangs quarterback J.J. McDermott threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Darius Johnson. Later in the quarter, McDermott went in on a quarterback sneak for the second score of the game.

Sunseri then came back and promptly fumbled the ball before he tried to throw a pass. SMU recovered and is in Pitt territory yet again.

For more on the game and Pitt football, check out SB Nation’s Pitt blog, Cardiac Hill.


SMU Vs. Pitt, 2012 Compass Bowl: Time, Location, History And More

The sixth edition of the BBVA Compass Bowl will be played Saturday afternoon at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama, pitting the SMU Mustangs (7-5, 5-3 C-USA) against the Pittsburgh Panthers (6-6, 4-3 Big East). It will be Pittsburgh's second straight appearance in the game. The Panthers defeated Kentucky 27-10 last January behind Dion Lewis, Ray Graham and 261 total yards rushing.

This is the fourth straight year Pittsburgh has reached a bowl game, having won three straight. It is also the second straight year the Panthers will be led by an interim coach in the Compass Bowl, after the sudden departure of head coach Todd Graham. Though Wisconsin assistant Paul Chryst has been hired as a replacement, Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Keith Patterson will coach the team in the bowl game.

Pitt lost Ray Graham to a knee injury in late October, and will lean on Zach Brown and freshman Isaac Bennett to lead the ground attack, taking pressure off quarterback Tino Sunseri, who had a rather pedestrian year, completing 64 percent of his passes for 2,433 yards, 10 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.

SMU will be playing in just its third bowl game since receiving the NCAA death penalty in 1989. The Mustangs will also be without their leading rusher for the game, Zach Line, and will look to air it out behind the arm of J.J. McDermott. His primary targets will be Darius Johnson (72 receptions, 998 yards) and Cole Beasley (79, 954), both just within reach of 1,000 yard seasons.

Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 PM ET, and the game will be aired on ESPN. Mike Gleason and John Congemi have the call, with Eamon McAananey working the sidelines.

We'll have updaters throughout the game in this StoryStream. For more on this game and all things Panthers athletics, head over to Cardiac Hill. For SMU news and notes, visit SB Nation Dallas. And for more college football news, check out SB Nation's college football news hub.


Pitt Vs. SMU - 2012 Compass Bowl: Lucas Nix Will Play, Not Suspended

After getting into a recent dispute, Pitt offensive lineman Lucas Nix found out he will indeed get to play in his final collegiate game.

Nix got into a fight over Christmas break and his status for the bowl game was in question. But head coach Keith Patterson has decided to let him play:

“We were just made aware of the situation last night, Lucas was made aware of the situation last night via mail,” Patterson said today. "It was a difficult situation to evaluate based on the late notice based on the information we had been given. But we’ve done a thorough investigation based on the information we have at hand.

“But I visited with Lucas this morning, I had a great conversation with him and based on that information, I feel like he deserves the opportunity to finish and play his final college football game.

“He received the information through the mail, so again, there was no arrest and I’m trying to make the best decision based on the information I have.”

The key appears to be that he was not arrested, only later charged. That’s not to dismiss what he did, but Patterson probably made the right decision. He had a limited time to act and it doesn’t make sense to punish Nix, who’s a senior and didn’t get into any real trouble.

For more on the Panthers and the bowl game, check out SB Nation’s Pitt blog, Cardiac Hill.


SMU Vs. Pitt, 2012 Compass Bowl: Panthers Will Have Their Hands Full With Mustangs

The Pitt Panthers might not have had the season that many expected from them, but they are still playing in a bowl game well after New Year's Day, and that has to count for something, right?

They will take on the Mustangs of Southern Methodist on Saturday at 1:00 PM ET. You'll be able to find that game on ESPN and ESPN3. In a season that seems to be full of them, this could be another high scoring Bowl Game. Southern Methodist boasts the 23 best passing attack in the Nation, while the Panthers are top 75 in both passing and rushing. On the other hand, they both have above average defenses, so we don't really know what to expect. With such a long layoff in between their games, it could be an interesting contest.

We'll have plenty more on this game throughout the week on SB Nation Pittsburgh in this StoryStream. But for more on this game and all things Panthers athletics, head over to Cardiac Hill.


BBVA Compass Bowl 2012: Pitt Could Play A Slower Pace

Pitt spent most of its season trying to play at a fast, "High Octane" offensive pace under former coach Todd Graham. The Panthers acheived mixed results, finishing ranked No. 69 in points per game with 25.8 and limping to a 6-6 finish. With interim head coach Keith Patterson and interim offensive coordinator Todd Dodge in charge, though, Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Pitt might sport a different look on the offensive side of the ball.

Both said they'd like to possess the ball and play ball control and they will look to run time off the play clock before snapping the ball. They will still be no-huddle but they will not try to snap it every 18 to 19 seconds. Patterson said the reason for this is he believes the strength of the team is the defense and he wants to keep the defense fresh and he's not afraid to play some field position.

Certainly interesting coming from a pair of guys who spent the season coaching in Graham's system. Graham has frequently been criticized for not coaching the team to its strengths, and this would appear to be an acknowledgement that the team may not have been quite suited for the "High Octane" routine it was pushed into by Graham.

For the latest on the BBVA Compass Bowl, stay tuned to SB Nation Pittsburgh.


BBVA Compass Bowl 2012: Pitt Still A Favorite

Pitt remains a favorite as it prepares for its matchup in the BBVA Compass Bowl against SMU in Birmingham, Alabama on Saturday, but odds are tilting in the Mustangs' favor.

The Panthers opened as a 5.5-point favorite but are now down to a 3.0- to 3.5-point favorite, according to Odds Shark.

Meanwhile, new Pitt coach Paul Chryst continues to build his staff and Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports he may have an old friend on his list after adding Mt. Lebanon coach Chris Haering earlier this week.

And he also talked about bringing a local high school guy in and there were two obvious possibilities - Haering or Bethel Park coach Jeff Metheny, as both are very close with Chryst and both worked as graduate assistants with him back in the day at West Virginia under Don Nehlen.

Metheny's Black Hawks were 4-6 this season, but won their first WPIAL title in 2008.

For more on the BBVA Compass Bowl, stay tuned to SB Nation Pittsburgh.


2012 BBVA Compass Bowl: SMU Ticket Sales Reportedly Slow

Over at Cardiac Hill, I mentioned earlier today that Pitt’s ticket sales weren’t going all that great according to a recent look at Big East sales by’s Andrea Adelson. But it looks like SMU may be having difficulty in selling their tickets as well.

According to, a large outlet for SMU fans, those who have bought tickets report that only about 500 have been purchased as of about a week ago.

Similar to the recent report on Pitt’s sales, this doesn’t include sales from third party sites, but regardless, both figures are pretty disappointing. If the reports and speculation are correct, the two schools could have combined to sell less than 3,000 tickets so far. This could be a sign of things to come as the games with the two highest attendance figures were in 2009 and 2010 when the contest included an SEC team. Without one this year, it will be interesting to see where ticket sales end up.

For more on Pitt football and the bowl game, check out SB Nation’s Pitt blog, Cardiac Hill.


Compass Bowl 2012: Ticket Sales Lagging For Pitt

The Pittsburgh Panthers and the SMU Mustangs face off in the BBVA Compass Bowl in just 12 days. Fans who forgot to pick up tickets during the holiday madness need not worry. According to ESPN, ticket sales for Pitt are the slowest out of all bowl-bound teams in the Big East.

The Panthers have just 2,100 tickets "out" for the Jan. 7 Compass Bowl in Birmingham, AL. Rutgers, playing in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 30, and Louisville, playing in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 27, have each sold about 10,000 tickets. Cincinnati has sold about 9,000 for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31, and West Virginia has sold 6,000 for the Discover Orange Bowl on Jan. 4.

Those numbers only reflect tickets sold through the school, so it is not a complete picture of ticket sales.

Cardiac Hill, SB Nation's Pitt Panthers community, notes a problem with the team's lagging ticket sales.

It's also part of the reason Pitt can get passed over for better bowls even if they appear higher in the standings. The team simply doesn't travel well.

The BBVA Compass Bowl is Jan. 7 at 1 p.m. in Birmingham, AL. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.


2012 BBVA Compass Bowl: Pitt Has History On Its Side Against SMU

When Pitt faces SMU in about a month in the BBVA Compass Bowl, they’ll have a bit of history on their side.

Since the inception of the bowl in 2006 (previously called the Birmingham Bowl and the Bowl), the Big East has been surprisingly good in the game. By good, I mean undefeated. The conference is a perfect 5-0 in the game, having beaten teams from the SEC, ACC, and Conference USA.

Pitt, of course, won the 2011 game against Kentucky. Prior to that, UConn beat South Carolina, Rutgers beat North Carolina State, Cincinnati beat Southern Miss, and South Florida beat East Carolina. The closest contest was Rutgers’ six-point win in 2008.

I’m not the type of person to place an enormous amount of stock in historical bowl games, but I think there is something to it. Part of the reason is because Big East teams have played against some lesser SEC and ACC teams and Conference USA squads, obviously. But when it comes right down to it, 5-0 is still pretty impressive.

For more on the game and Pitt, check out SB Nation blog Cardiac Hill.


BBVA Compass Bowl: SMU Head Coach June Jones Staying Put ... For Now

Just as Pitt was dealing with a coaching change during last year’s college football bowl season, SMU appeared to be headed for the same. Mustangs head coach June Jones was rumored to be headed toward a deal to become Arizona State’s next head coach.

But things seem to have fallen apart at the 11th hour, and Jones, for now, is staying put as the SMU head coach:

Leigh Steinberg is Jones’ agent and posted this on his website/blog:

“Just had one of the most bizarre endings to a set of productive discussions to bring a client to a new situation. Everything was set, few tweaks left, and the principal decision maker yanks the deal w no real explanation.”

While Pitt's situation could have been a huge distraction for the Panthers, the team played just fine under interim coach and defensive coordinator Phil Bennett last season. Still, it’s a distraction that SMU is probably glad they won’t have to deal with for the time being.

For more on Pitt and the BBVA Compass Bowl Game, check out Cardiac Hill.


Bowl Game Lineups: Pitt Overlooked For Other Big East Bowls

Pitt is certainly glad they’re headed somewhere for the college football postseason, but the team dropped to the BBVA Compass Bowl Game after they were unable to land a spot in a more lucrative contest.

The Trib-Review reports that the Panthers were interested in a few other bowls instead, but were passed over:

Pitt officials were in discussions throughout the day with officials from ESPN and the other, richer bowls with Big East ties, but the Pinstripe ($3.6 million), Belk ($3.4 million) and Liberty ($2.875 million) chose schools with better records.

Rutgers (8-4) will play Iowa State in the Pinstripe at Yankee Stadium, Louisville (7-5) will meet N.C. State in the Belk in Charlotte, N.C., and Cincinnati (9-3) will face Vanderbilt in the Liberty in Memphis, Tenn. West Virginia (9-3) earned the conference’s BCS bid and will face Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

Pitt also had interest in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl ($1.075 million) in St. Petersburg, Fla., because the Panthers have never played in that game. But that bowl has a contract with Conference USA and opted to select Marshall to pair with Florida International.

Any bowl, of course, is better than no bowl, but Pitt’s 6-6 record definitely scared some teams off. And when you throw in the Panthers’ poor travel history for bowl games, Pitt simply wasn’t all that attractive an option.


BBVA Compass Bowl 2012: Pitt To Face SMU

The Panthers will return to the BBVA Compass Bowl, this time to face SMU.

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