Pitt Leads Nation In Sacks

By Paul Sykes

If watching a defense get to the quarterback is your thing, you gotta love watching the Pittsburgh Panthers play. In four games this year they’ve dumped the quarterback 16 times. The 3-1 Panthers have a ferocious front four that loves to come full speed at passers in the pocket.

'I’m going out on a limb here and picking the Cards to win their first game in way too long against a D-1 opponent. Make it Louisville 31, Pittsburgh 28.'

The rest of the Panthers defense, however, could use a lot of work. 500 yards given up to the University of Buffalo. They gave up 38 points in a surrender to North Carolina State, a team that couldn’t find the end zone against Steve Spurrier led South Carolina.

For those of us who braved the disaster at Heinz Field last year and sat in shock and disgust as the Panthers rolled up the score on the University of Louisville football team, it’s a matter of U of L needing to move the ball against this Big East foe. It is also mandated that they put the clamps on running back Dion Lewis, who has rushed for 493 yards and 7 touchdowns this season.

Pitt was a prelude to the Rutgers disaster last year but  keep in mind that the Cardinal defense was shorthanded against both Pitt and Rutgers. With more numbers and less injuries , plus a game in front of a Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium crowd, the Cards should fare better against Dave Wannstadt’s crew.

I’m going out on a limb here and picking the Cards to win their first game in way too long against a D-1 opponent. Make it Louisville 31, Pittsburgh 28.

So, you think I’m daft? Well, share with me your insights and your predictions.

Hostile Fans, Angry Coach and a Wannstedt

Rarely in its history has the University of Louisville football team dominated another team like its has Pittsburgh. The Cards have won seven straight games over the Panthers since 1983, owning a 7-4 advantage in the series, including three Big East Conference wins.

Card fans can take little comfort, however. Pittsburgh was impressive in a four overtime 36-33 win over Notre Dame last week. The Panthers are well aware of recent history between the schools, eager to take advantage of a team unable to handle lowly Syracuse.

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— A young U of L team may have been riding too high after a surprising win over South Florida, thinking they had arrived and could just show up and win. It happens to teams all the time. But for hostile fans trying to find a reason to excuse the coaching staff for previous disappointments, it was the equivalent of a backstabbing.

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— Coach Steve Kragthorpe hardly ever ventures off the optimistic path, but he has been seething this week:

“Nobody’s happy around here. I’m not happy. I’m as upset as I’ve ever been. I’m sick to my stomach that we lost that football game.”

“In terms of where we’re at as a program, I’m disappointed, I’m upset, I’m pissed off that we lost. But I’m not going to let it affect my preparation for Pittsburgh.”

One angry football coach. That makes it unanimous. Now everybody is mad.

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— Tom Heiser, who does the Courier-Journal blog, is not that optimistic but somehow manages to anticipate a Louisville win:

The prospects for the final four games are about as muddy as the Heinz Field turf. Let’s be honest: if the program has now become Syracuse’s silver lining, no game (home or away) can be considered favorable for victory. The momentum of a three-game winning streak, a 5-2 record and the upset of South Florida have vanished … I think U of L has a good chance to rebound and pull out a win — in essence, pretend last week never happened.”

It takes a dedicated fan to feel that way. Nice to know there is at least one with CJ connections.

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— Mike Rutherford at Card Chronicle points out “Looking for a reason to believe that has nothing to do with your team? Pitt, now ranked 25th, is 0-3 in home games when nationally ranked under Dave Wannstedt.”

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— By the way, the Fire Dave Wannstedt domain is for sale after his team managed to defeat Notre Dame 36-33 in four overtimes last week. Could a Panther fan be having second thoughts? Don’t count on it if the Panthers lose another game to U of L.

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— Roll Tide Bama apparently believes Wannstedt is the key to the game:

As bad as Louisville has been, you have to think that anytime something good happens for Dave Wannstedt, something bad can’t be far behind. Something like an upset loss to Louisville, perhaps? Louisville 21 Pittsburgh 14.

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— Win or lose, you’ll be surrounded by a lot of U of L fans Saturday at a fund raising event for Shawn Bowen at the BBC in St. Matthews. Shawn is the five-year-old son of Justin Bowen, better known as “Jerb” for his video capabilities.

All proceeds from this event, as well as a golf scramble tomorrow, will go help offset the family’s medical expenses. There will be numerous items availble in a silent auction and probably a few surprises. Hats off to Frankpos for organizing the event, which starts at 11:30 a.m. See you there.