It was a record-breaking day for Pittsburgh in a Little Caesars Pizza Bowl victory over Bowling Green Thursday in Detroit. Pittsburgh wide receiver Tyler Boyd set a school record for most receiving yards in a bowl game with 173 receiving yards. Running back James Connor broke Tony Dorsett’s bowl rushing record with 229 rushing yards. On top of that, quarterback Chad Voytik came in to lead the offense in the second half after Tom Savage suffered a rib injury at the end of the first half, and he led the offense on the longest drive of the season for the Panthers, 98 yards for a fourth quarter touchdown.
the performance of the offense may have overshadowed the work done by the Pittsburgh defense at times. The Panthers recorded seven sacks in the game, with five in the first half and an Aaron Donald sack late in the fourth quarter helping to seal the game for the Panthers. Pittsburgh held Bowling Green’s offense, which just weeks ago had their way with Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game, to just 282 yards of offense. Bowling green quarterback Matt Johnson had a pair of touchdown passes and 265 yards but the Panthers defense played nearly the entire game in Bowling green’s backfield it seemed and the Falcons struggled to show a defense capable of slowing down a Pittsburgh team growing up and providing a glimpse of what could be coming in 2014.
Pittsburgh may have had a rough debut in the ACC but they end the season with a winning record and bowl victory. Next season the Panthers have a favorable non-conference schedule that could lead to a solid start to the season with games against Delaware, Akron, Iowa and FIU. They will also get Duke, Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Virginia Tech at home. The road schedule in the conference could be a bit trickier with stops at Miami, Boston College, North Carolina and Virginia but you will notice four teams not appearing on Pittsburgh’s schedule for 2014: Florida State, Clemson, Louisville (joining the ACC in 2014) and Notre Dame (on the ACC schedule rotation).
If Pittsburgh can build an offense around Voytik, see the same level of play from Boyd and keep the running game going, this Pittsburgh team could be set up for a solid season in 2014 ACC play.