As Jim Rome would always say during his popular annual 'Smackdowns' in describing callers who had not yet gotten through nearing the end of a show, "Panic Alert, clones."
That's kind of how I'm feeling after the WVU loss. Not so much because Pitt can't accomplish their goal - they can. All it will take is a win against an undefeated top five team. Not an impossible task, but certainly no guarantee.
I'm not going to recap the game for a variety of reasons - the main one is that I don't have the strength. Pitt looked pretty bad in this one compared to how they played all year and was unable to make big plays other than the 50-yard TD pass to Baldwin. Lots of things contributed to the loss - Stull's poor game, Dan Hutchins blowing an early makeable field goal, the defense giving up the long TD run to Noel Devine, Wannstedt's inexplicable decision to attempt a 53-yard field goal rather than play for field position, allowing the Mountaineers to run all over the place during the last drive, etc., etc., etc. There's just not enough time, people.
But I do want to focus on the bowl situation because I think it merits some discussion.
Notre Dame's loss guarantees that the Gator Bowl will have to select a Big East team - i.e. WVU or Cincinnati. Pitt's loss to WVU now likely (if not certainly - I'm not sure if the Gator Bowl has to take the 2nd place Big East team) gives Pitt no shot at that bowl. Had the Panthers won that game, but lost to Cincinnati, 10-2 regular season with a Gator Bowl bid doesn't look so bad. But now, the prospect of a 9-3 season with a Car Care Bowl bid has the feeling of last year - only the Sun Bowl is a bit more prestigious than the Car Care Bowl.
Even though it may sound foolish to some, I think the WVU loss makes the Cicninnati game even more of a must-win. There are some who subscribed to the theory a short while back that it was BCS or bust for Pitt. I know - I was one of them. But last week, I conceded that a Gator Bowl bid and 10-2 season would have been a step forward. Now, with the possibility of another 9-4 season, Pitt better come out ready to play in order to get their 2009 campaign back on track. A loss to Cincinnati would feel disastrous - at least to me.