On Saturday, Pitt raced out to a 21-0 lead against Rice. They looked poised to add to that total but on the 12th play of a 76-yard drive, Chawntez Moss fumbled the ball at the goal line.
That momentarily brought shades of the Youngstown State game where Pitt blew a 21-point lead and nearly lost the game before needing overtime to win. But this time, the Panthers kept on scoring. The team forced a Rice punt and scored a touchdown on their next drive to go up 28-0 into halftime.
Head coach Pat Narduzzi placed an emphasis on finishing the game instead of allowing Rice to hang around.
"We played a darn good first half. They started to scare me at the beginning of the third quarter. I talked to them about finishing the game. We’ve been up 28-0 in the past and hopefully they learned from [it], but they came out and finished the game.
Linebacker Oluwaseun Idowu also discussed finishing things.
"It was like, ‘hey guys, this is not going to happen again.' We learned from Youngstown State that we cannot have it happen again. We have to shut them down now and wake everybody up to let them know we are still in this game."
I don't know that I was necessarily concerned after that fumble. Pitt was clearly the better team and I was convinced they had learned their lesson from the opener against the Penguins.
But it was good to see them keep the pressure on. As I said earlier in the week, I think Pitt needed to not only win this game but to make it look easy. Youngstown State did cut into the lead a little, getting a field goal to start the third quarter and then adding a touchdown to make it 28-10. But after that, it was all Pitt as they shut our Rice the rest of the way and added two touchdowns of their own.