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Pitt Vs. Cincinnati: Panthers Win Big, But Fall Short Of BCS

As expected, the Panthers were able to defeat the lowly Cincinnati Bearcats on the road today, 28-10. But equally predictable was the Mountaineers’ victory over Rutgers. That win officially eliminated Pitt from BCS contention and now the Panhers await their bowl fate.

Pitt’s game was played in a steady snow throughout, which meant the ground games for both teams was the prime mode of moving the ball. Dion Lewis had four touchdowns and a career-best 261 yards on the ground, nearly equaling Ray Graham’s 2010 season-high of 277 yards. It was the first time Lewis rushed for more than 200 yards in his career.

The game capped a disappointing season not only for Pitt, but for Lewis. He entered the season as the NCAA’s leading returning rusher after a 1,799 season last year, but only managed to top 100 yards three times this season. It’s tough to know what his feelings are, but this season’s lackluster performances might force him to return for his third season at Pitt, even though he’s eligible for the NFL Draft.

The running game also was successful for the Bearcats as they rushed for more than 150 yards. Pitt had trouble slowing down junior Isaiah Pead who ran for nearly 100 of those yards.

Ray Graham was questionable heading into the game and only had one carry on the day. Chris Burns also received a few carries, but when you have a guy rush for 250+ yards, you don’t really need a backup all that much.

Tino Sunseri had a lackluster day with only 158 passing yards, but he performed far better than Cincinnati QB Zach Collaros who was only 12/24 for 109 yards with three interceptions.

So where does this leave Pitt? Who knows. The Panthers still have an outside shot at the Champs Sports Bowl if they decline to take a mediocre Notre Dame team. That may sound like it won’t happen, but the bowl can only select Notre Dame once every four years. It may choose to play its Notre Dame bowl card at a different time. For that to happen, Pitt needs UConn to lose tonight. That would put the Mountaineers in the BCS. Otherwise, if any Big East team were selected, it would be WVU.

For more post-game analysis, check out Pitt blog Cardiac Hill.

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