Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Pitt on Top in the Mediocre Big East

Garrett Dodson

Mid-Atlantic Sports

The Big East has struggled in their non-conference games against BCS conference schools. Their record against BCS conference schools is 2-11. The wins included West Virginia’s victory against Maryland, and Connecticut’s victory against Vanderbilt. Through the first three games in conference play, one team has emerged out of the mediocrity, and that is Pitt. So far, Pitt has dominated league outscoring their opponents 106-38. With four games remaining, they have a two game lead over West Virginia and defending champion Cincinnati. They have one game leads over Syracuse and Rutgers, who they have already beaten. Can Dave Wannestadt keep his troops focused during the final four games of the season and win their first outright Big East title?

Why has Pitt been dominant in league play? First of the all, the competition has something to do with it. But Pitt’s quarterback, Tino Sunseri has become more consistent and comfortable running the Pitt offense. One thing that was lacking early in the season was the big play. Lately, Sunseri has hit his receivers for long scoring touchdowns. The running game has been more productive due to the big play threat of Sunseri to Baldwin. Early in the season, teams were stacking the box, forcing the Panthers to throw. Since the passing game has matured as the season has progressed, the offensive line has been able to open holes for Ray Graham and Dion Lewis. The defense has been pretty consistent since the Miami debacle early in the season. They get a big boost with the return of all American defensive end Greg Romeus. Greg has missed the early portion of the season due to having back surgery. He plans to return to the lineup for the November 11th contest at Connecticut.

Pitt looks poised to make a run at their first outright Big East title. Only a late season meltdown will prevent them from representing the Big East in a BCS bowl game. Pitt should be heavily favored at Connecticut and South Florida. But games against West Virginia and Cincinnati will be challenging. If Pitt continues to improve, they will rise to the top conference and represent the Big East in possibly a match up with the Big 12 champ in the Fiesta Bowl. The Fiesta Bowl has the last selection of the BCS bowls and will likely get the Big East champ by default.

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