The Pitt defense controlled South Florida from start to finish and now the Panthers are bowl eligible
The pattern of losing two, then winning two marches on for yet another game.
But first, a congrats to Ray Graham, who finally reached that elusive 1,000 yard rushing mark. After his devastating ACL injury last season, it's great to see him rebound in this way. With this achievement, Pitt has a 3,000-yard passer and a 1,000 yard rusher in the same season for the first time in school history.
Pitt, in their final Big East conference game, marched down to Tampa and absolutely owned South Florida in a 27-3 Panthers win. The final score could've been even worse had the Pitt offense not struggled in the first half. Despite South Florida turning the ball over on their first three possessions of the game, Pitt only held a 13-point lead going into halftime. Penalties killed the Panther offense - Pitt had numerous holding and false start penalties go against them. The offensive line provided little protection as well, giving up four sacks to the Bulls. Add all of that up and the Pitt offensive line did not have a good game.
Fortunately for the Panthers, the defense was dominating. Pitt held South Florida to just 55 yards of total offense going into the fourth quarter and ultimately just 115 yards of offense, a program worst for USF, while also forcing four turnovers. With injuries to many of South Florida's best offensive players, you had to figure that the Pitt defense would control the game and they most certainly did.
With the win, Pitt becomes bowl eligible and their final location is still up in the air. The two possible landing spots are yet another trip to Birmingham for the BBVA Compass Bowl against an SEC team, likely Ole Miss, or a trip to New York to face West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl. The more compelling matchup is, of course, the Backyard Brawl, which could stand to be the most interesting non-BCS bowl of this season's bowl games. And the bowl officials are aware of it, according to Jerry DiPaola of the Tribune-Review.
Pinstripe Bowl executive director Mark Holtzman said renewing the Backyard Brawl between Pitt and West Virginia at Yankee Stadium "can be very compelling" for his game.
The only way Pitt ends up in New York for bowl season is if West Virginia is there opposite them. Any other Big 12 team and Syracuse surely will be in the game, sending Pitt to Birmingham for the 3rd straight year.