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Sports Illustrated Bowl Projections: Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia

Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel released his bowl projections on Monday, and all three local schools are represented. 

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Mandel has Pitt facing off with Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl. It would be the Panthers' first BCS bowl bid since a 2004 loss to Utah, also in the Fiesta Bowl. The Panthers have the inside track to the Big East title, which would give them the league's automatic BCS bowl bid

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Penn State is projected to take on Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl. This is obviously a welcomed expectation, as only a few weeks ago, Penn State fans were worried if they'd be in a bowl game at all, let alone a New Year's Day battle with an SEC foe. The Gator Bowl would be Penn State's sixth different Bowl game in six years.

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West Viginia is expected to take on ACC No. 5 Clemson in the Meineke Car Care Bowl on New Year's Eve. The Mountaineers last played in that bowl game after the 2008 season, beating North Carolina 31-30 in what was an exciting final game for former quarterback Pat White.

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Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.