At the beginning of the season, this game was looking like one that could feature two teams battling for the conference championship. Now, it looks like one that could be a trap game for the Panthers.
In his weekly press conference, Dave Wannstedt talked about Pitt's difficult with UCONN:
"I think that if you look back over the years, at least since I’ve been here, our game with Connecticut has always been a very challenging one. They are similar in a lot of ways to us from the standpoint that they’re a physical football team and they run the football very effectively. They have one of the top rushers in our conference and in the country, which is not new for them. It’s a philosophy that they have. They play the 4-3 defense very similar to us from a schematic standpoint.
"Again, if you look back over the past couple of years at this game, whether it is at our place or up there, it has always been a very tough and close game, back-and-forth.
That's not just coach-speak, either. Pitt is only 3-3 against Connecticut since they joined the Big East and the Panthers' victory last season was on a last-second field goal as time expired. Pitt's definitely had their share of problems with the Huskies.
Then of course, there's the issue of another nationally televised contest for Pitt:
"This is our week to show up on big-time TV," said Sheard, who leads the conference in sacks (1.12 per game) and forced fumbles. "Everyone's got to step up and play.
Well, that's kind of misleading. 'Game' would imply that this was Pitt's only national TV appearance. Obviously that's not the case. Pitt is 0-3 when the spotlight's been on them this year. Sure, those games included two against pretty good teams, but losing game after game on national TV isn't real good for the program, or for that matter, the Big East.
Thursday night road contests against conference foes are already tough enough. Throw in Connecticut's huge home-field advantage and this is no gimme game for Pitt: