Rentschler Field will be a zoo on Friday night when the Pitt Panthers play the Connecticut Huskies in a Big East matchup on ESPN. Pittsburgh has a 4-5 record and is coming off a BRUTAL loss to Notre Dame last week. UConn has a 3-6 record this season and needs to win its remaining games to become bowl eligible.
Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri has improved playing for new head coach and former Wisconsin offensive coordiantor Paul Chryst. Sunseri is completing 69 percent of his passes, has throw 14 touchdown passes and been intercepted only twice. Running back Ray Graham, who will be a VERY good NFL running back, has rushed for 794 yards and eight touchdowns. Receivers Devin Street and Mike Shanahan have combined for 94 receptions, 1399 yards and seven touchdowns. Street is another Panther with big time NFL potential.
Defensively, Pitt has been formidable. The Panthers are allowing 22 points per game to rank No. 38 in the country. They should have no problem containing the Huskies offense.
Connecticut has an anemic offense with Chandler Whitmer at quarterback. Whitmer has completed 58 percent of his passes for 2115 yards, seven touchdowns and THIRTEEN interceptions. Running back Lyle McCombs has 164 carries, 547 yards and four touchdowns, far off his 2011 production. Receivers Geremy Davis, Michael Smith and Ryan Griffin have 82 receptions, 1182 yards and six touchdowns combined.
The Husky D has been stingy this season. Look for that trend to continue in the cold New England weather on Friday evening. The group has allowed 18 points per game, which ranks 21st among all FBS programs.
Pittsburgh got the wind knocked out of it in the proverbial sense by Notre Dame last weekend in South Bend. This time around, Pitt will knock the wind out of the Huskies one way or another. Pitt wins on the road and inches closer to a bowl bid.
Final Score: Pittsburgh 21, UConn 16