This will mark the first ever meeting between these schools, although the Panthers have faced every other Pac-10 school. Pittsburgh finished third in the Big East Conference with an 8-4 record, having lost their last two.
Pittsburgh features a tough defense that held its opponents to an average of 18.2 points per game, second only to Miami's 18.1 average in the Big East. Senior linebacker Gerald Hayes leads the teams in tackles, averaging more than 10 tackles per game. Junior defensive lineman Claude Harriot anchors the line leading the team with 7.5 sacks, 17 tackles for loss, and 7 forced fumbles. He is a force to be reckoned with.
Offensively, Pittsburgh has a versatile quarterback in junior Rod Rutherford that rushed for more than 412 yards, in addition to his 2600 yards passing. Junior running back Brandon Miree ran for 830 yards on 194 carries, an average of 4.3 yards per carry.
But the most dangerous player to watch on the Panther offense is 19 year-old true freshman Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald is a playmaker who the Panthers rely heavily upon in key situations. His best game of the year came against Virginia Tech when he caught 5 catches for 105 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Panthers like to use Fitzgerald's size and jumping ability against the defense in red zone situations on fade routes or "jump ball" plays.
This will be the third consecutive bowl appearance for the Panthers. They lost 37-29 to Iowa State in 2000 in the first Insight Bowl to be played at Bank One Ballpark and last year beat NC State in the Tangerine Bowl 34-19.
Oregon State will wear their home jerseys and use the East bench on game day, while Pittsburgh will wear their road jerseys and occupy the West bench.
The Beavers will stay at the Pointe South Mountain Resort in Phoenix and will practice at Mountain Pointe High School.
Beavers to Face Pitt in Insight Bowl
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