This morning, Leftover Hot Dog and others are discussing the possibility of Pitt being our opponent in the Papa John's Bowl. This assumes, of course, that the Panthers lose this weekend to Cinci, as expected. It also assumes that Pitt falls all the way below UConn and South Florida in the Big East bowl pecking order. Considering their relative seasons, that seems unreasonable to me, but it's apparently a possibility.
So, what should we think about this matchup? Pitt has had a nice season for themselves; the Panthers are currently 9-2 and have spent time in the top 10. That might suggest that Pitt is a team to be feared. I'm not so sure, though. Pitt's two losses came to N. C. State, a team we narrowly beat on the road despite playing like crap, and West Virginia, a team that an average Auburn team pushed around a little bit. Pitt did beat the Big East's other decent teams, including the aforementioned UConn and South Florida. However, a lot of these were close victories, and my thinking about the Big East is that there's not much reason to fear unless you're going up against a team that has absolutely dominated the conference, such as the old Louisville and West Virginia teams that played de facto national title games against each other during the Petrino-RichRod years. That hasn't been Pitt, who has played well in the conference but has hardly dominated.
In fact, I quite like this possible matchup. Beating a team with a 9-3 record--and I would EXPECT a win were we to square off against these guys--would give us a lot more mileage with the polls and recruits than beating UConn or South Florida. (I do, though, like the idea of beating a USF team with which we compete for recruits.) So bring on the Panthers, I say. To me, it seems like a sexy matchup, and a win would be a nice consolation prize to losing out on the better bowls.