Well, after what seemed like an eternity, the wait is over for Pitt’s BBVA Compass bowl game vs. the Kentucky Wildcats. Both teams faced significant difficulties in preparing for this game.
Kentucky will be playing without starting quarterback Mike Hartline. Hartline threw for more than 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. His loss will be a big blow to the Wildcats’ offense, which ranked in the top 25 in passing and scoring offense.
Pitt has had to deal with, well, let’s just say a lot. First, the team lost its popular head coach, Dave Wannstedt. Then, just as they were getting used to the idea of having Mike Haywood around, he was promptly fired after a domestic violence charge. The team is now without a head coach and without much direction. Defensive coordinator Phil Bennett will lead Pitt onto the field for the bowl game, but he is expected to be joining the Baylor football program shortly after the bowl game. Confused?
It’s difficult to determine just how much all of this will affect Pitt during the game. But as I suggested in the game preview at Cardiac Hill, once the game starts, I’m of the opinion that nearly everything else is forgotten. Football is such a violent sport that players simply can’t afford to let their minds float elsewhere. When the first whistle blows, I think it will come down to talent. The good news for Pitt is that they have more of it than Kentucky. Add in the fact that Jon Baldwin and Dion Lewis will likely be playing in their last games for Pitt and I think they’ll be ready to go.
Pitt 34, Kentucky 24