Where Will Pitt Go?

Here's a closer look at Pitt's possible bowl matchups; from Tempe to St. Petersburg, with a few other possible destinations in between.


PITT VS. NEBRASKA, FIESTA BOWL

WHY? Forget about the individual matchups. Lets talk about the administrative matchups involved in this one. Steve Pederson left to be Nebraska's Athletic Director after his first tenure at Pitt, then returned to Pitt after being fired five years later. Pederson's right hand man at Pitt Marc Boehm--who hired both Jamie Dixon and Agnus Berenato in his interim phase at Pitt.

Plus, there's the whole Dave Wannstedt vs. Bo Pelini matchup. Both were the finalists for Pitt's coaching job six years ago, with Wannstedt getting the job.

WHY IT WILL HAPPEN? Of all the bowl scenarios, it's the one that is most complex out of all of them. All Nebraska has to do is win. For Pitt, they need to win, coupled with a Rutgers win over West Virginia and a South Florida win over UConn.

WHY IT WON'T HAPPEN? If any of one of those scenarios don't happen.

OTHER TIE-INS? With the Arizona Cardinals having three key players that are former Panthers (Larry Fitzgerald, Gerald Hayes, LaRod Stephens-Howling), it almost seems University of Phoenix Stadium--where the Fiesta Bowl is held--is a second home for Pitt players.

Both teams met a few years ago, a home-and-home series in 2004 and 2005. Pitt had chances to win both games, but Nebraska was able to hold on both times.


PITT VS. OKLAHOMA, FIESTA BOWL

WHY? Not so much the administrative matchups, but who wouldn't get excited at the thought of playing Oklahoma. This is a team that has played for the national championship multiple times over the last decade. Dave Wannstedt and a lot of the players always talk about getting Pitt back to that next level. What better way to test itself, than to play against a team that's actually been there a few times in recent years.

WHY IT WILL HAPPEN? Much like the previous scenario, Pitt needs a win on Saturday, coupled with South Florida and Rutgers wins. The clincher would be Oklahoma beating Nebraska in the Big XII championship game Saturday night.

WHY IT WON'T HAPPEN? Same as the Nebraska scenario, if any one of the above don't happen.

OTHER TIE-INS? Sooner fans might not prefer going to Glendale. In its two recent trips, they lost to West Virginia in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl, and to Boise State in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, a game which enhanced Boise State's national reputation. Pitt and Oklahoma last met 20 years ago, a 52-10 Oklahoma win. Both teams bring a physical element to their game, but outside of that, there's no real connection.


PITT VS. MARYLAND, MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL

WHY? Strangely, for two teams in bordering states, they don't play each other regularly. This would be a great matchup for many reasons. Both teams recruit a lot of the same players, but the trip to Charlotte is easy for both sets of fans. It's easier for Pitt fans this year, being that it's on New Year's Eve, and not the day after Christmas like it was last year. It's hard to believe these two teams last met in 1992.

WHY IT WILL HAPPEN? Pitt's chances of going to this bowl might be even leaner than its chances of backing into the Fiesta Bowl. The easiest scenario for Pitt to get here would be West Virginia winning, and Connecticut losing. If Connecticut wins, and West Virginia loses, the Mountaineers will be the prime target. This of course is all assumed that Notre Dame gets to the Champs Sports Bowl, which is very likely.

It's not a given that Maryland will end up in this bowl game. The Meineke organizers could go with the safe pick and take the in-state North Carolina State Wolfpack. If that's the case, though, would they really put the Wolfpack against Pitt--a team they played last year--and a team they already played in a bowl game in recent years. Then again, the Panthers played Oregon State twice in a span of six years in the postseason.

WHY IT WON'T HAPPEN? The chances of Pitt ending up in this bowl game are slim. At least with the Fiesta Bowl, it's pretty clean cut. Here, if any one of the scenarios--Pitt not winning, West Virginia not winning or UConn not winning--happen, it's over. Only one of those situations has to happen for Pitt to get this bowl. If any more than one happens, their hope for this bowl is over.

OTHER TIE-INS? A great nod for recruiting in the Maryland/DC area. It's one of the areas Pitt has been hoping to break into in recent years. With Maryland coming off an improved season this year, it's going to be a little tougher recruiting there this year. A bowl win over Maryland, though, would help that.


PITT VS. GEORGIA, BBVA COMPASS BOWL

WHY? Pitt-Georgia, Part III? The last two times the two schools met were in the 1977 Sugar Bowl, and the 1982 Sugar Bowl. Both of those respective bowl games capped two of the more memorable seasons in Pitt history. This meeting if it were to happen, would be a little different in that regard.

Still, Georgia has a great tradition, and with not being too far from Athens, would certainly draw a big crowd--which would work against Pitt on game day. On the other hand, an opponent with a name like Georgia might draw more Pitt fans than expected.

WHY IT WILL HAPPEN? Pitt could still either win or loss Saturday, combined with both West Virginia and UConn winning. So far, the easiest looking scenario.

WHY IT WON'T HAPPEN? Despite being 6-6, Georgia is still going to get a good draw. The Peach Bowl and possibly even the Liberty Bowl, among others, will be clamoring for the Bulldogs.

OTHER TIE-INS? Just for the fact of seeing another Pitt-Georgia bowl game like we‘ve seen in the past. Outside of all these other bowl scenarios, Georgia carries the biggest name, and with a location of Birmingham instead of Phoenix--closer for a lot of Pitt alums to get to--might draw more Pitt fans.


PITT VS. KENTUCKY, BBVA COMPASS BOWL

WHY? Maybe the two basketball programs can hold an impromptu basketball game as part of a double-header. Kentucky had a good season under first-year coach Joker Phillips. Plus, it's a school that doesn't have a lot of history with Pitt. While there is a history with the previous bowl scenarios, the Panthers don't really have one with the Wildcats. The two schools have never met, making a first-time opponent all the more enticing.

WHY IT WILL HAPPEN? Probably because it's the easiest of all the scenarios involved. The Compass Bowl would love to have Georgia, but so would all the other SEC tie-ins ahead of them. With the Music City Bowl likely keeping Tennessee in-state, Kentucky falls here.

WHY IT WON'T HAPPEN? If someone like Georgia is somehow available, or if Pitt opts for the Beef O'Brady's Bowl in St. Petersburg, Florida (see below).

OTHER TIE-INS? Former Pitt quarterback Bill Stull initially committed to Kentucky. He changed his mind after Dave Wannstedt and company took over, started recruiting him, then got him to switch his commitment to Pitt. Greg Meisner--a former Hempfield Area standout, and son of former Pitt player of the same name, is a reserve fullback for the Wildcats.


PITT VS. SOUTHERN MISS, BEEF O'BRADY'S BOWL

WHY? Pitt could end up in this bowl with a win or a loss. It depends on what the Beef O'Brady's reps do. They can either invite the hometown South Florida Bulls, but at the same time, the Bulls might want a change of scenery--such as Birmingham--for its bowl destination. That all hinges on what the Compass Bowl reps decide to do--since their slot is ahead of the Beef O'Brady slot.

WHY IT WILL HAPPEN? This is where the Big East No. 3 or Big East No. 4 spots go out the window. Technically, this bowl game goes to the Big East No. 6. Interestingly, Pitt can finish no worse than third in the Big East standings, yet has a very good chance to end up in the Big East's sixth slot. It depends on how the other bowl slots get picked ahead of them.

There's also a possibility the Pitt administration--recognizing a 7-5 or 6-6 team that fell far below its goal of making the BCS bowl--wants to wrap up the disappointing season as soon as possible. This bowl is played on December 21, while the Compass Bowl is played on January 8, not to mention a strong base of Pitt alums in the state of Florida, who might be more willing to make the trip to St. Petersburg than they would Birmingham (or any other groups of alums anywhere, for that matter).

The later bowl game also dips into recruiting for the coaching staff. Why drag out a disappointing season even more, especially when Pitt basketball will be in the thick of its Big East schedule on January 8, with a home game against Marquette.

WHY IT WON'T HAPPEN? If the Compass Bowl in Birmingham is that adamant about having Pitt; same thing goes for the Meineke Bowl in Charlotte.

OTHER TIE-INS? With Southern Miss already slated for the Beef O'Brady's Bowl, it's a rematch of the 1997 Liberty Bowl.


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