UC-Pitt thoughts

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What an unreal game for the Bearcats, who win their second-straight Big East championship. Here were my thoughts:


First half


I don't see how the snow doesn't bother UC's offense, and on the first series, that seems pretty apparent. The Bearcats don't look exactly comfortable. Meanwhile, Pitt looks very comfortable. The first 15 plays of the game go to Dion Lewis (14 rushes, one pass reception), and the Panthers, facing a fourth and 1 on the UC 23, Lewis gains four yards (though Dominique Battle had a chance to tackle him behind the line of scrimmage). Then, the four-yard TD run. At this point, UC looks in trouble. No offense + no defense = no Big East title.


Tony Pike to Ben Guidugli is the new Pike to Mardy Gilyard. Then, Isaiah Pead shows he does, in fact, want to play in this game. Snow apparently doesn't slow down his speed. Two-straight TD passes in the red zone, and Pead and D.J. Woods drop one apiece. The pass interference helps. Finally, four plays (five if you count the penalty) after UC gets to the 6-yard line, the Bearcats score to tie the game at 7-7.


Finally, Dion Lewis comes out of the ballgame. Probably due to exhaustion. Another fourth down converted by the Panthers, via Lewis. 2-for-2 so far today. Incomplete to Baldwin, but the officials will review. Yeah, his foot is clearly in bounds for the TD. That should be 6. Yep, TD, and a 14-7 lead for Pitt.


Well, the game has set up perfectly for Pitt so far. The Panthers are keeping the ball away from UC's offense, and except for that long run by Pead, UC's offense has been pretty ineffective. We'll see if the Bearcats can improve. Wow, just a great catch by Armon Binns. Just throw it up, and he'll likely come down with the ball. I was wondering if the refs were going to throw the flag on DeCicco for blasting D.J. Woods. Yeah, he went helmet to helmet. That's the right call. The next call, the pass interference call, was not the right call. Man, Pike was lucky he wasn't intercepted there on third and goal from the 2. Jake Rogers has to kick the 20-yard FG to cut the lead to 14-10.


That flea flicker didn't seem to fool anybody, but Stull finds Baldwin in the middle of double coverage and comes down with the 40-yard TD catch. Actually, on further review, the safeties were fooled. But Drew Frey had a chance to make a play on the ball, but he couldn't. Pitt leading 21-10.


Oh boy. A Pike interception gives Pitt possession in UC territory.


On third and two, Battle misses another tackle on Lewis behind the line of scrimmage. I guess you have to be at the point where if the Bearcats allow only a FG, their fans should consider that a victory. 24-10, Pitt.


Zach Collaros who? Pike runs for the first down on third and five.


I'll tell you what. Pittsburgh is just beating up UC. And then the blocked punt. Oy vey.


31-10, Pitt. Yeah, I'd say UC is in some trouble here.


Well, how about Mardy Gilyard with the 99-yard kickoff return? That was ridiculous. He just made some great moves. 31-17, Pitt.


Man, another fumble by Lewis. But it goes out of bounds yet again. That would have been a huge recovery by UC on the Pitt 11. On Lewis' 29th carry of the half - are you kidding me with that? - the Bearcats stuff him and will get the ball back with 44 seconds left in the half. Then, the Bearcats are helped from a personal foul. Well, so much for that. Another interception by Pike. And the answer from Aaron Webster, getting the pick against Stull. Jake Rogers misses the long field goal.


Well, UC has some work to do. But it could have been so much worse.


Second half


That's a nice opening half stop by UC's defense. J.K. Schaffer with the big tackle on Lewis on third down to force the punt. And an ugly opening series for UC as well. Pike sacked twice.


Back to back three-and-outs by Pitt. And Kerry Coombs is excited about the developments.


For all this talk from ABC about Collaros possibly coming in to replace the starter, Pike is back out to take snaps. For the record, I didn't think he would. Wow, Mardy Gilyard again. A 68-yard TD from Pike. He's having a great final regular-season game of his career.


Aside from that blocked punt, how bad has Pitt's special teams been? You've had shanked punts, slips on kickoff returns, fumbles out of bounds on kickoff returns. Man, nobody touched Schaffer on the sack. That's a big play - third and 24. Pitt has to punt again.


Pike is starting to heat up. And soon as I wrote that, Pike is picked again.


It has become a battle of the interceptions. Heck of a route run by Dominique Battle to pick off Stull. Seriously, where was Stull going with that ball?


A three and out for UC.


Not a good punt by Rogers. And BK is talking to Mike Elston about it. And Dion Lewis strikes again, giving Pitt a two-touchdown lead with 12:26 to play.


Gilyard again with the kickoff return. Geez. It leads to a quick score, a short TD pass from Pike to Woods. And Jake Rogers doinks the PAT. Collaros looked to have a tough time putting the snap on the ground. I wonder how big that will be.


Huge sack of Stull by Derek Wolfe, but give Alex Daniels plenty of credit. He forced Stull to move up in the pocket and into Wolfe's arms.


Haven't seen much of Jake Ramsey today - other than his touchdown. It's been mostly Pead. And another 15-yard penalty by Pitt. And yeah, it was a late hit. No matter how much the crowd didn't like it. Well, Binns' foot might have broken the plane of the goal line. But the ball didn't appear to do it. Collaros in for the first and goal from the 1. He's short of the goal line. On second down, he and Pead collide, and again, he doesn't get it. But an offsides penalty on Pitt. Repeat second down. And Pead scores to cut the lead to 2. Pike back in the game for the 2-point conversion. Pike to Gilyard in the end zone. Tie ball game. 38-38.


It is officially a shoot-out.


Pitt has done next to nothing on offense in the second half. You have to wonder if Lewis, who had a ton of carries in the first half, is worn out. Huge 15-yard penalty on Walter Stewart for hands to the face. Bearcats might have gotten lucky that the facemask penalty on Matthews was picked up by the officials. Stull with a big play to Baldwin, catching UC in zone coverage. And then a Lewis 6-yard TD. And the holder loses the ball on the PAT, and Pitt can't convert. The Panthers lead 44-38 with 1:36 to play.


Another nice return by Gilyard, and UC starts the drive at the 39. Pike to Woods for the first down. This is exciting, no? Ball on the Pitt 44. Pike scrambles, and Gilyard comes back to catch the ball for the first down. Timeout UC. The ball is on the Pitt 29. Oh, and an amazing TD catch from Pike to Binns for the 29-yard TD. An unreal play with so much on the line. And the Rogers PAT is good.

Pitt takes over with 28 seconds to play. Three-straight incompletions from Stull, who is then sacked on fourth down, and the Big East championship - and the BCS bowl game that comes with it - is UC's. Heck of a game.

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