If I were to tell you about a team that was ranked preseason at #15 in the nation, had a Heisman Trophy Candidate at Running Back, at least three potential first round picks for the NFL, and five preseason All-Americans, what would your thoughts be? Would you ask why Ohio State is ranked so low? You’d expect this team to be a serious contender for the BCS National Title, wouldn’t you? Well fans, this isn’t Ohio State, this was in fact, where the Pitt Panthers found themselves September 2nd, right before their season opening kickoff against the Utah Utes, the same Utah Utes that embarrassed them in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl. This was the season in the minds of many Pitt fans. The season that Coach Wannstedt can finally get them to the next level as he promised he would six years ago. However with a 27-24 loss at Utah, things began to change for the Panthers very rapidly.
Going into the game, the Panthers were the underdog by three points to the Utes so the loss wasn’t a surprise to many people. It did however, put a damper into any National Title hopes that the fans or Panthers had. The loss at Utah was the least of their concerns however. All-American Defensive End Greg Romeus announced that he needed back surgery to fix a disc in his lower back and hopes to be back at the end of the season. Put that with the off the field issues and dismissals of two Panthers players for D.U.I. and Assault (both cases still pending) as well as Middle Linebacker Dan Mason’s season ending ACL injury against Miami, the road only seemed longer for the Panthers. After losing to Miami and Notre Dame, the season seemed all but over for the Panthers as their only wins came against New Hampshire and Florida International. Questions about Dion Lewis came up after a dismal season thus far and his backup Ray Graham out performing him, as to who should start at tailback. Fans were also calling for Wannstedt’s job and the job of Quarterback Tino Sunseri after the 2-3 start.
Pitt came out in full force however against the Syracuse Orange and Rutgers University and seemed to right the ship as Lewis has started to seem like the 2009 version and Sunseri has been able to connect with his deep threat, Jon Baldwin and the ever reliable, Mike Shanahan while outscoring their previous opponents, 86-35. Everything seems great again and with the recent loss of West Virginia to the aforementioned Syracuse, Pitt stands as the only Big East school without a loss. Now as most of you know, the Big East has a BCS Bowl bid for the winner of the league that guarantees them a spot in one of the big games through 2013. Currently, there isn’t one Big East school in the top 25. Syracuse is the closest at 29, followed by West Virginia at 30. As of now however, the Panthers have the upper hand and control their own destiny. If they win their last five games, they win the Big East and get in one of the games. Granted, if Pitt wins out, they will probably be ranked around 20th in the country.
That brings the question to you fans: In your opinion is it a good thing for the Panthers to win out and get into BCS Bowl game? Sure the financial affect is wonderful as the school will earn a payout of roughly $10 million and garner national attention. But after the showings against the likes of Miami, Notre Dame and Utah, I wonder if it would be better for the Panthers to lose a game and play in a game like the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. Now I’m not suggesting that Pitt throws any games, but what would benefit the school the most in your opinion? Facing a team like Boise State and get de-cleated in the Fiesta Bowl similar to that of the 2oo5 Fiesta Bowl? Or facing a team like Baylor in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl? If you are a Pitt fan (and if you aren’t why would you be reading this), what do you hope for the Panthers this year? Or do you have faith that the Panthers will be able to win in a BCS Bowl Game? Let the debate begin.
About the Author
Written by Michael Waterloo
I'm currently pursuing my Master's degree in Communication and Journalism from Clarion University. I currently work for Ohio Valley Athletics where I serve as the West Virginia Football Beat Writer and cover West Virginia Men's Basketball as well. I'm a big Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers and Oregon Ducks fan. Follow me on Twitter at @MichaelWaterloo or visit www.ovathletics.com