Thursday’s matchup between Miami and Pittsburgh may not have grabbed headlines for week four, but make no mistake, there’s some history between the two programs.
In more ways that one.
Both Pitt and Miami have a rich history, produced hoards of NFL talent and, at the beginning of the season, had Heisman hopefuls. After an up and down 2009 campaign, Jacory Harris seemed ready to throw his way to New York, but four interceptions later at the ‘Shoe and Harris’ Heisman hopes halted (awww yeah for alliteration).
A year ago, Pittsburgh’s Dion Lewis led the Big East in rushing and was the Offensive Player of the Year. Through two games this season, Lewis barely has 100 yards and two touchdowns.
Tonight was a chance for redemption for Lewis and Harris, but only the Miami quarterback seized the opportunity.
Okay, so Harris still has a lot of work to do to regain his Heisman mojo, but at least the junior quarterback rebounded from a mediocre first half with two touchdown passes. Overall, Harris managed the game well and made some nice throws in the second half.
Lewis continued to struggle by netting only 41 yards, but with Pitt playing catch up all night, the Panthers were forced to all but abandon the run.
Pitt’s lowly performance also highlighted some concerns regarding coach Dave Wannstedt. There may not be a nicer guy coaching in DI, but the head coach is 36-28 (.563) through five-plus seasons, has appeared in only two bowl games (1-1) and has zero Big East titles.
When it comes to Wannstedt’s record, it’s hard to overlook the fact that Pitt has lost some must-win games, including Cincinnati in ’09, laying a 3-0 egg in the Sun Bowl against Oregon State in ’08 and a tough season opener loss against Utah.
Several off-the-field issues this year haven’t helped. None of Wannstedt’s players have threatened to kill their girlfriends per se, but DUI’s, people-tossing competitions and South Beach agent parties (which apparently everybody was invited to, except me) — among other incidents — haven’t exactly boded well for Wannstedt.
Mark Richt, Todd Dodge and Tim Brewster may have the hottest seats in the country, but there will no doubt be some grumblings in Pittsburgh after tonight.