POV: We’re Empire City Bound !

First off I’m definitely going to the Pinstripe bowl game at the new Yankee stadium. lafayette_lehigh_yankee_stadium1280_1yff3v9i_oke37x0t

New York City around the Christmas and New Year holidays is a truly great place to visit and kick out any holiday stress… just to replace it with Pitt football stress I suppose but you can’t have everything.

Big City lights, strange people, booze, cheap peep shows… what else does a dedicated Pitt fan need?

Combine all that with the fact that we are facing a Big Ten Northwestern team that is 6-6 on the regular season and is only a middling passing team and that’s icing on the cake.  We may actually be able to win this bowl game – something we haven’t been all that good at of late.

We are 1-4 in our last five bowl games, the singular 30-27 win being against Bowling Green in the world-renown Little Caesar’s Bowl.  To counter that depressing fact a bit we also have been in bowl games the last eight years running which for Pitt, and other teams also, is an accomplishment.  In those games we combined three wins vs five losses and that leaves one wondering just what will happen in three weeks.

Pat Narduzzi has done a very good job putting ‘done‘ check marks in the boxes of listed items I think he needed to accomplish this year. Beating newly regenerated rival Penn State was the first task, then besting a very strong conference foe (my main requirement for him this season) in #2 Clemson was the other.

Winning a bowl game is the third step as along with that it will bring us to a 9th win in only the fourth time in the past forever.  I believe most Pitt fans thought we’d beat Navy in the Military Bowl last season for that elusive 9th win.  I didn’t though because I had twice watched Navy play at home down here in Memorial Stadium already and knew they were a top-notch, fast and solidly talented team.

So that loss wasn’t a big surprise for me – but the way we were so utterly unprepared for Navy’s ground attack was. Still, watching that loss was way preferable to sitting through the “I’ll take that sharp stick now please, I have no need for eyes any longer”  3-0 loss to Oregon State in the 2008 Sun Bowl  under Wannstedt’s fine tactical decision-making. We were going for a first time in 26 year 10th win then.

I wonder if DW truly believed that QB Bill Stull was going to accomplish anything later in that game after Stull’s poor 1st half throwing a 5 for 14 completion rate.

But wait! There’s more! 

Stull finished out the 2nd half going 2 for 10… thus totaling 7 for 24 and 52 yards at a stunning 2.2 yards per attempt passing on the game.  This with Pat Bostick sitting on the bench until the very last series where he promptly hit Dickerson for two completions for 36 yards right before the clock ran out.

WTH!!  Oh, that’s right – God made the winds die down for Bostick.

Anyway, that won’t be a big problem for our Panthers in New York though.  I’ll do a thorough “Know The Enemy” article prior to the game as usual but here are some things to think about in considering the quality level of the ‘Amethyst Wildcats’.

Why is it all college football highlights are accompanied by rap songs?  I’d like to hear something like this once in a whilethe opening lyrics are a perfect fit for Josh Conklin; he may have to turn that red light on after the dust settles on the season.

Here’s a quick look at Northwestern’s production on the season:

nwstats3

As you can see their strengths lie in their defensive play and in creating turnovers.  Keeping their opponents to 22.1 ppg is no joke, especially compared to our 109th ranked 35.6 ppg defense (it hurts just to type that).

Their keeping their foes to a 35% 3rd down conversion rate is very good and if our passing game isn’t on the mark that could be worrisome in keeping drives alive.  Especially if James Conner hires an agent between now and Dec 28th.

Calm down – I’m kidding!

Throwing for 247 yards per game is not too bad either but one must consider the “Suck Factor” has to be applied to any opponent’s passing game when predicting what might happen against Pitt’s passing defense. That is the multiplication of a factor of at least 1.75 across the board to whatever passing averages they have going into the match with Pitt. 

This means we should anticipate Northwestern will throw for at least 432 yards with a yards per attempt rate of 11.6 and 3 TDs.  That quite possible could be on the low side considering that over the last three games of the season we gave up an average of 423 yards and that is with poor passing Duke as one of those three.

The good news is that we won those three games anyway so us giving up passing yardage measured in tenths of a mile doesn’t automatically mean a loss.

Also note that the Wildcats lost close games to then #6 Ohio State 24-20 and #8 Wisconsin 21-7 so they won’t be pushovers.

Again – closer to game week I’ll get into the regular pre-game article format and until then we will get back into the swing of regular articles now that we have 22 days to kill before the bowl game.

I’ll address some of your great topic suggestions and keep on with the ‘look-back’ profiles of the players that helped the team to eight wins…so far.  I do think we’ll see the ninth as a belated Christmas present.

Also folks – think about where we POV’ers can meet up for the pre-game festivities.  I’ll be going up on the 27th so if anyone else is traveling up early we can get together and have a nice evening of drinking and insulting each other.

Note: I truly love NYC as my family and I were stationed there on Governors Island from 1993 to 1996.  Governors Island is (was) a 172 acre Coast Guard base (a prior Army base) that was like living on a small New England college campus. It is located just off the southern tip of Manhattan. We didn’t pay rent or lock our doors and it had everything a small town would have including a nine-hole golf course.

The Coast Guard departed the base right after we did, too expensive to maintain the national historical status of the buildings for one reason, and the Feds turned the island into a National Park.  That link is to the history of the island.

If you have the time do try to get out there and visit – I believe the ferry trip is free and the architecture on the base is outstanding – like walking back 150 years ago.It is a well designed arts, cultural and sports park now.

We would still be living there if we could have pulled it off – you have the whole town of New York at your disposal then get to go back to a sleepy, quite and completely safe base at the end of the evening.

Here is some of the Officer’s housing where we lived…row_0-300x161 and you can see below that the Island’s golf course went right around the old fort.

Great memories…

 

101 thoughts on “POV: We’re Empire City Bound !

  1. Those who feel lukewarm to the NYC venue & feel that Pitt won’t travel well there are sorely mistaken.

    This will be a sellout Bowl and Panther Nation will be represented better than many anticipate. Two reasons for this, 1) there are a lot of Panther Alumni in the tristate area of eastern PA, NJ & NY that will show for the game, even without the help of a convoy of Yinzers showing up from western PA. 2) The Conner Factor! James Conner has become a driving force for the program this year, just as I anticipated during my preseason speculation.

    His leadership definitively contributed to our signature wins for this season and his story has reached a national audience through the media, not only in the sports media but also on shows like Ellen DeGeneres and in social media as well. His is a feel good story of victory over life endangering illness. Not only did Conner conduct himself personally in the appropriate manner to deserve the attention that he has subsequently received but he unselfishly took his unfortunate circumstances and turned that situation on it’s own head by becoming an inspiration to others battling their own cancer challenges.

    I showed up for the Villanova game simply to pay my respects to the guy’s perseverance to overcome the huge encumbrances that were thrown in his path over the previous year & I was not disappointed. There will be many a ticket purchased for the Pinstripe Bowl by those fans of Conner who just want to see him perform in person too, while concluding his comeback fairy tail story from cancer, in what most likely will be his final collegiate game. Oh, & BTW, the guy is a Beast Mode RB to begin with, so who doesn’t want to see a guy like that in the 1st place?

    I’ve been carrying Coach Narduzzi’s water ever since he went on his Panther Prowl Tour immediately after his hiring. This guy is bringing Pitt back to national prominence soon enough. News coverage in the big Apple for this Bowl will be good PR for the program IF, IF, IF we take care of business and beat Northwestern. Time to focus on our biggest game of the season, our next one!

    The Pursuit! H2P!

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  2. Love the positive spin but the fact remains this bowl is a garbage bowl and the ACC gave us the worst bowl.

    Hell it might be 20 degrees.

    This Bowl has the Connor Factor which is awesome but the kid deserved a legit bowl in a legit bowl location. You know where it is 75 and Sunny.

    Barnes fails again.

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  3. I was looking at the Pitt Hotel deals. The price is per person, not per room.

    So 475 for two nights becomes 950 if you take your wife or girlfriend.

    It does include shuttle to the game, snacks & gifts etc. but a lot more cost effective to plan your own accommodations. Tickets not included.

    I don’t know who is running things, But instead of making it easy and worthwhile they gouge the fans.

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  4. @ Reed, the positive vibe in this blog post of yours today was like a breath of fresh air supplied from you.

    Being a Pitt fan these days feels G O O D! An 8-4 season. Beating both PSU & Clemson. Our win over the Nitters effectively derailing any of their CFP hopes, even with their B1G Championship trophy in hand. A Bowl invite to the Big Apple against a very beatable B1G opponent, Pitt sneaking up deeper in the Top 25 polls without even playing another game. It’s all good!

    Being optimistic about your team isn’t analogous to being a homer when the facts dictate that you should be in a good mood. I just can’t understand why some so called “fans” just can’t see the light and continue their incessant complaining, but I guess that is why there are plenty of antidepressants Rxs written daily.

    As for me, “Happy Days Are Here Again”! H2P!

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  5. If anyone likes to bet games take Pitt and give the 3 points in this one, our defense has problems but this is too good to pass up.

    Unless Peterman is injured this is a good bet the game should play out 42 to 21 ish.

    Pitt has too many weapons and our defense should get a few stops.

    I am going to be in Destin Florida anyone want to get together and watch the game ?

    Let me know 1st round on me.

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  6. Wow, Sun bowl memories. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why Wannstedt didn’t try Greg Cross at QB in that game. One TD against Iowa and was then relegated to the bench for the remainder of the year.

    When you think back to Cavannaugh as OC and compare him with Canada now, the difference is downright frightening.

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  7. I just received an email from the Pinstripe Bowl Media dept requesting my application for a media pass and I submitted it right away – I called and it looks good for a spot. There is almost full week of events going on with it so I think I’m going up a few days early to be able to give you all some detailed reports on the team’s happening prior to the game. I think I’ll stay in the New York Marriott East side (4*) that has been booked for the Pinstripe people & attending media.

    Won’t be too busy to hang out though.

    Here is the Pinstripe Video

    http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/26446990/v1214803383

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  8. Tom – we have one commenter on here who is “continually complaining” (God bless his little heart). All others just disagree with your eternal optimism.

    I mean what is your spin on our defense? What do you think about giving up 35+ ppg and all those passing yards and TDs? Can’t you agree that with a even half decent defense we most probably would be 10-2 if not 11-1?

    That isn’t complaining – that is talking about issue that severely impacted our W/L results. It seems to me to be 100% happy with 8-4 at this point is settling for 2nd best a little bit.

    I’m OK with 8-4, that’;s one more than I thought we’d get regular season – just not they way our defense played when we could have, and really should have given Conklin & Narduzzi’s 2nd years, been so much better.

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  9. I am certain we are going to have a strong delegation out of Northeastern PA going to the Bowl. Looking forward to going to the Big Apple and having a good time at the game and in the City. Pitt warmly welcomed its alumni and friends at receptions in Annapolis last year and I am expecting no less this year. We are graduating a bunch of great guys on this team and they deserve an equally great send-off. Hats off to our favorite son from Wilkes-Barre, Shakir Soto. The Program is moving in the right direction and I want to be part of it. Frankly, Coach Narduzzi has us farther along than I expected for only two years. Just wait a little longer and we will be spending more time in the sunshine in January. For those of you going to the game…Have a safe trip and enjoy New York, HTP!

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  10. If we were 11-1 like Clemson with our name we still are out of playoff. Our shot at playoffs is undefeated.

    And I have a big heart Reed!! Haha

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  11. I’ll be there with my 13 year old and his best friend. Going to stay outside of city and come into town for the game.
    Anyone ever been to El Paso? Hint…go to Banksville road, stop at Jose &Tony’s for the California Burrito. Wait a couple of hours. Before you flush, look into the porcelain receptacle.
    Voilà…you have now experienced the best and worst of ElPaso. I saved you thousands of pesos.
    Give me NYC anytime.

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  12. Urgh — @Reed Please Never ever bring up tino sunseri, or pat bostick as PITT QB’s ever again 😦 😦 😦 😦 .

    Horrible Memories of guys who should have been at D-3 somehow being the only guys at freakin’ Pitt to play QB .

    — Nathan Peterman even is a player who Pat Narduzzi somehow Squeezed GOLD out of …. Pat Narduzzi also Recruited AND helped Tutor Freakin’ Kirk Cousins and Connor Cook at MSU which turned out to be 90% of their success….yes the Less DISCERNING continually do not comprehend that Pat Narduzzi as a Head Coach is All-In on getting the best QB’s possible ….

    —– Thomas MacVittie is Gonna Be a Spectacle Who Sells-Out Heinz like a One-Man-Show —– But I still want Malik Zaire to come to Pitt So Bad to help the transition!!! —- Like at PSU this year, 5’10”, 185 pound weak armed Trace McSorley started as a RS Sophomore so a little bit of transition time for 6’5”, 230 pound Thomas MacVittie could use the smooth transition with Malik Zaire’s help.

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  13. ^^ Malik Zaire is gonna make his decision soon as he graduates in just a week or two!!!!

    It’s down to UNC baby-blue and Pitt!!! — This is another big-battle before the bowl game!

    —- If Malik Zaire comes to Pitt, with Matt Canada staying with his-guy Narduzzi for one more year , and obviously Thomas MacVittie hitting the weights all off-season to fill-out his frame — next year the offense would be ferocious 🙂 — we’ll see: Zaire’s decision is gonna come in the next few days most likely so he can get ‘on campus’ asap.

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  14. There are two things I know from reading this blog.

    PITT’s defense really sucks and there is no defending it
    Reed hates Narduzzi and he can’t admit to it. (closed practices)
    Extra award winner? Reed has been more pleasant overall and nicer to Pat Narduzzi. little late to the party tall fellow but better late.

    The wind didn’t die down for your buddy PB, OSU went into the prevent a win defense with only seconds to go. Oregon scored 3 pts. So…..?

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  15. @Upitt
    You incorrigible lout. You need to get on board with Barnes. The guy is doing great things!

    He extended Pat Narduzzi, Suzy McConnell-Serio and Holly Aprile. Narduzzi entering his second year as a head coach. Serio and Aprile coming off their first NCAA tourneys. .Women’s softball then topped 30 wins again but lost in the first round of the conference tournament and didn’t make the NCAA field. Women’s basketball then finished 13-18. Narduzzi then fielded the 109th ranked defense and 127th ranked pass defense in FBS this past year.

    Barnes hired a men’s soccer coach and the team finished 2-13 this past season. Women’s soccer team finished 2-15. Pitt is building an indoor soccer/lacrosse stadium near the outdoor stadium (Cost FIeld) that opened in 2011.

    Barnes allowed (I believe passively/aggresively coaxed) the most successful coach in Pitt basketball history to leave on a “relaxed” buyout. He used his friend’s search firm to hire a new men’s basketball coach with whom he had already spoken to about the job. Pitt just lost to Duquesne (by 9) for the first time in sixteen years and third time since 1982.

    Barnes released a master plan that included 90% season ticket retention. I am guessing that didn’t happen in men’s basketball based upon all the billboards and media ads around the city promoting mini plans. He repeatedly denied the contention that the increase in Pitt football season tickets had anything to do with PSU fans buying those tickets. However actual game attendance, particularly in the “cheap” seats, indicates something is up.

    On the other hand the volleyball team lost in the second round of their tourney. The swimming and diving team did well at nationals. The wrestling team is well regarded early in the season. So there actually are some positives. You just need to look really closely.

    Barnes seems to have a proclivity for pissing down our back. This bowl is nothing more than an opportunity for recruiting appeal and player development. Move to 9 wins against P5 competition in the “postseason” and practice a few more weeks.

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  16. Nothing can sell me on NYC in December. I’m sure your experience was great in New York in the Coast Guard but the key is once it was a National Park who could afford it? Overcharging for a dirty city experience. Not my cup of tea, but then again I am probably Scrooge and in the minority but I’m not changing my holiday family plans for that, I did my duty in attending the final 2 Pitt games this year (as well as all other home games). Enjoy y’all but I am with UPitt on this.
    Now the Popeyes Bowl in the Bahamas. 🙂
    The Omnipotent Herman Cowhead said bowls look to geography and that’s why we are thrilled to go to New York – guess that leaves NY, Md and Detroit for us even if 12-0. Think I will spend my bucks on Blacksburg and Atlanta next year. Ho Ho Ho.

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  17. Anyone see a 27 year old white male in hospital gown running down Fifth ave???? Dark Knight got loose again. Saying Weah for Heisman or something about the kid from Michigan that was a QB and played 7-7 because his lineman were cows.

    Dark Knight you sure sneak out if western pysch really fast.

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  18. No, Upittbaseball — You Are Crazy!! lol 🙂 🙂

    lol @ Upittbaseball you are right — Scott Barnes is secretly trying to sabotage Pitt…..Chancellor Gallagher is actually Joe Paterno’s Favorite Secret Love Child who promised his Father to destroy Pitt Football for their betrayal in not forming a Football Conference with them…..And Pat Narduzzi tells his Defensive Backs to let the opposing QB’s to get AT LEAST 400 yards against them in each game to help pay-off his Bookie Debts!!! …. Ayeeee!!! 🙂 lol

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  19. ^^^ Dont’ think so….But I think Matt Galambos might have been Pat Narduzzi’s secret love child!!! So glad all those LB’s are out lol !!!

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  20. Dear SFPitt,
    Fantastic that you’re taking young’ns to the game!
    To update, I grew up in Dormont, walking distance to Jose & Tonys. I moved to Texas in the early 80s, and while I have not lived in El Paso, I spent a week there for a wrestling tournament for my younger boy who eventually went on to wrestle D1.
    Saying El Paso Mexican food is like Jose&Tonys is like saying you can find authentic Polish kelbasi and perogies in El Paso!!! AINT GOING TO HAPPEN!!!!
    El Paso has great food and is actually a very nice city. Certainly not NY, NY but they do make authentic Mexican dishes for sure!

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  21. Next Year’s LB’s —>

    Saleem Brightwell, Kazeon Pugh (1st Round NFL pick level talent), Chase Pine, Anthony Mckee, and the Star of the group who has inexplicably been Held-Back up til now, Clay Matthews-esque Senior 6’1”, 240 pound Quintin Wirginnis — next year Pitt fans are going to see what REAL LINEBACKERS ARE 🙂 .

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  22. @gc, I have attended many bowl and away games. Not once used Pitt for that very reason. Always found better deals on my own. Reed, does this ever come up in conversation with the powers at Pitt…how to make this process more user friendly?

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  23. I wonder how they all feel about still discounting Pitt as a rival…..since Pitt kept the Pedo’s OUT of the 4 team playoff. And it will be another 20 years before Creepy Valley sees another BigJoke title.

    That’s too bad….I feel really bad for the Creepsters. 🙂

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  24. I was embellishing Pittman4ever.
    No disrespect.
    On the other hand, comparing El Paso to NYC is bound spawn some silliness.
    As for Jose & Tony’s….it is a destination well worth my hyperbole.
    Last shot…always like the Sun Bowl. Prefer New Mexico and Toas.
    The Toad Inn has the best food I’ve tasted.
    H2P

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  25. Pitt FANS got screwed on the bowl selection. Cold weather & expensive hotels. I’d rather fly to Orlando or Nashville than drive to NYC…

    I’m sure the coaches/players don’t really care.

    I just don’t understand how the bowl committees don’t put Pitt in a natural rivalry game… Backyard Brawl in Orlando would sell tickets and bring national attention to an otherwise lousy bowl game. The Pinstripe Bowl has actually done it a couple times snubbing Pitt for Syracuse and BC, when it had a chance to mach them up with PSU and WVU.

    Whatever, though. Here’s to 9 wins and another building block.

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  26. OK I just checked in and read a couple of the early comments …. Hmmmm … Feels like to much happy talk … well except Upitt of course.

    My early 2 cents WE WILL make this so so QB’s day with a career type passing day he can tell the grand kids about. Just sayin.

    and …. Upitt (love you man you keep the tea drinkers honest) BUT late season real football is played in nasty weather in real places like da burgh, Chestnut Hill, East Lansing, and some place called Green Bay … just when the weather gets interesting the sissies crawl back to the warm corners. Never forget where you come from man. Carry on. 🙂

    OH and just so ya know real football is never played in the dairy stadium …

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  27. ~ Boston…..the Pinstripe is Pitt’s ceiling according to Barnes because it’s all based on Geography.

    So unless we win the Conference, get use to Gotham City, the Motorless City or the Naval Academy Bowl.

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  28. Yea and I forgot about that, the Pinstripe wanted no parts of Pitt last year or the year before or any other year since they’ve been in operation, since 2010 I believe.

    They preferred matching (6-6) Boston College up with Pedo State instead of us the other year.

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  29. Of course the Pedo’s could have refused that matchup and apparently they have a lot of clout. A whole heck of a lot of clout. Since the 3 blind rats have still yet to be put on trial.

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  30. ^^ Kazeon Pugh was only 205-odd pounds though through his RS Freshman year, and he’s only about 6-foot (So for his height and build he can really only carry 230 pounds without being too bulky) —- I think he’s Pitt’s Future Middle Linebacker In-My-Guess.

    Quintin Wirginis is a Beast and he was So much faster and Stronger than Matt Galambos ….. Hopefully Galambos honors his promise and burns those incriminating pictures of Narduzzi when he graduates lol —- Matt Caprara……@Reed You Have to ACKNOWLEDGE that you once-wrote that you thought he was a potential NFL Linebacker, right???

    …..LOL…Bam Bradley…urgh.

    Linebackers were…ARE…the PRIMARY weakness of this defense, NOT solely the defensive backs actually — It’s just the the three terribly-Weak linebackers can HIDE during pass plays when they are totally ineffectve on both blitzes and their pass coverage while the D-line and Most-Especially the Defensive Backs get EXPOSED —> Linebackers this year almost got to be Invisible Men and get excused while they left the entire defensive backfield to DRY…….NOT NEXT YEAR THOUGH. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I agree football in the cold is awesome to play and compete in but hell with watching it. Haha. I’ve been in the south to long and if it is below 40 Im in bad shape.

    It is cold in Texas this week.

    Good Thing Miami calls my name this week. Haha

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  32. Emel ~ Barnes can sell whatever he wants, but I’m not buying it. Geography is about the only thing he can sell about this game… Midweek, afternoon kick, against a B1G joke afterthought…

    Most years I’d be pretty happy with the Pinstripe given Pitt’s recent history – but Barnes should have done better this year… Conner, Narduzzi, Henderson, the offense, potential first round picks, and a national ranking should get you more than a 6-6 B1G joke game in the snow…

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  33. ~ BC…… I certainly agree. Two good ole boy longtime ACC schools got our slot in the Sun Bowl and the Gator Bowl. Neither of them ranked, one of them (UNC) coming off 2 season ending losses to a below .500 Duke team and a middling 6-6 NC State team. The other (GT) …..Pitt beat.

    ~ Add in the fact Pitt is the 10th highest scoring team in NCAAF, has the most exciting punt/kick returner in D1 and the human interest story and ACC all-time record TD setter of James Conner and Herman should have hired his buddy at the Coaching Search firm to get the bowl bid. He seems to be competent.

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  34. I found this interesting from the ESPN site:

    CONNER WILL LEAD PITT TO VICTORY

    Pitt has the strongest 8-4 record in the nation, with wins over No. 2 Clemson and No. 5 Penn State, notes Adam Rittenberg. He predicts James Conner will score twice in a win over Northwestern.

    We get the Pinstripe Bowl because politicians run amok in the ACC and possibly in our own athletic department.

    💩💩🖕

    Like

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