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Pitt Vs. Maine: Black Bears Should Provide Tune Up Before Iowa Game

Be honest, it's hard to see Pitt losing this game.

They've had one winning season in the past five years and over that span playing D-I schools such as Syracuse, Iowa, and Boston College, haven't seriously challenged any of them. Is it possible for Maine to come into Heinz Field and keep it close for a bit? Sure - we all saw that last weekend against Buffalo.

But Pitt has no reason to lose this game. So what do we know about Maine?

As Greg pointed out in his season preview of the team, they are experienced and having played against those aforementioned D-I schools, shouldn't be too fazed at the prospect of playing Pitt on the road. They returned a total of 19 starters and that's got to count for something, right?

Right?

Just as Pitt is using this as a bit of a tune-up game, Maine had one themselves last weekend defeating Bryant University. The Black Bears rode the legs of running back Pushaun Brown and his 146 yards to victory. In addition to containing Brown, the Panthers will need to keep the Black Bears' return game in check. Return man Trevor Coston returned five punts and broke one for 74 yards last weekend, winning the CAA's Special Teams Player of the Week award and also the College Football Performance Awards' National Punt Returner of the Week.

Unlike Pitt, Maine jumped out to a large lead against their opponent - 28-0 into the fourth quarter. But they gave up a couple of late touchdowns and in getting ready for Pitt, longtime Maine head coach Jack Cosgrove wants to keep his team focused for the full game:

"The thing you need to do is take charge," Cosgrove said. "We were up 21-0 (at halftime) and wanted to make a statement, and we didn't do that. We didn't earn a lot in the second half and the defense, at the end, got a little sloppy.

"We've got some concerns about our focus and our level of intensity over 60 minutes. It's something that's going to be emphasized over the next few days."

On Monday, Cosgrove also mentioned how his team can pull off the upset against the Panthers:

"I've always felt that in order for a team of our stature to be successful against a team like theirs, they have to play bad and we have to play great," Cosgrove said of playing and FBS team. 

The bottom line is that this will be Pitt's last chance to get things under control before the actual season starts. No more tune-ups, no more practice. After this, it's a road game at Iowa and then home contests against Notre Dame and South Florida. And those games are followed by a road game against a Rutgers team that looked very good in a 48-0 opening season win. Suffice to say, things get significantly harder from here on out.

Could Pitt put up a similar effort as they did against Buffalo and still win? Probably. But that won't help them down the road and the Panthers will be better off by putting together a dominant performance this week.

The game will be at 1:00 p.m. on ESPN3.