That of course didn't guarantee a bowl spot until today, when the Panthers accepted on offer to play in this year's Little Caesar's Bowl, December 26 at Ford Field.
"We're excited for the chance to play in another game against such a quality opponent," said head coach Paul Chryst. "Bowling Green was impressive not only in their MAC Championship win, but all season long and we have a competitive game of football ahead. We are grateful to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl and the City of Detroit for offering us this opportunity."
The game is set to be televised on ESPN on December 26 at 6 pm EST.
Initially, the Little Caesars Bowl has a tie-in with the Big Ten, getting the eighth choice of schools. Technically, the conference did have eight schools with at least six or more wins. That eighth school (Penn State, 7-5) is ineligible for postseason play until the 2017 season.
Instead, the Little Caesars Bowl gets to pick up Pitt from the ACC. Pitt placed itself out of any ACC bowl tie-ins. Luckily, they were able to slide into a spot such as Detroit, a bowl game in need of an opponent.
"We are very pleased to have this opportunity for Coach Chryst and our team to play in another bowl game," Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson said. "The location and the date are ideal for Pitt fans to be able to enjoy being a part of the bowl experience. A bowl appearance is significant in many ways, especially as Coach Chryst continues to build this program toward our next championship. We are grateful to the people of Detroit for making this possible. We will have an excited team arriving in Detroit for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl."
It's a bit of a change of pace for the Panthers. The last three years, the Panthers have gone to the BBVA Compass Bowl, going 1-2 over that stretch. The BBVA Compass Bowl payout for Pitt was around $900,000. The payout for this year's Little Caesar's bowl is expected to be around $750,000.
As for the actual game itself, Bowling Green finished 10-3 this year. The Falcons opened some eyes nationally with a 21-20 loss at Mississippi State earlier this year. Following a 28-25 loss at Toledo, they began their run to the MAC Championship game, winning their final five regular season games topped with the 47-27 win over Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game.
Something Pitt fans are accustomed to--coaching searches around bowl games. Now, it's Bowling Green that will be dealing with the distraction one way or the other. Falcons head coach Dave Clawson, reportedly interviewed for the Wake Forest job on Sunday. His name has also been linked to openings at Connecticut and Boise State.
Then, there's some familiar faces on Bowling Green's roster. Quarterback Matt Johnson, a redshirt sophomore from Harrisburg's Bishop McDevitt, was lightly recruited by Pitt. His teammate at the time, Jameel Poteat, committed to Pitt in 2010, before signing with Cincinnati. Johnson put together a spectacular season this year, throwing for 3,195 yards and 23 touchdowns.< /p>
Logan Dietz, a redshirt freshman offensive lineman, played his high school ball at Pittsburgh Central Catholic. He started all 13 games this season at right tackle.
The Falcons have a commitment from Blackhawk's Andrew Podbielski for 2014.
Terrell Jackson signed with Paul Chryst's 2012 recruiting class. He left the program early last spring, and transferred to Bowling Green. He had to sit out this past season, meaning he won't be able to play in this year's game.
Andre Givens twice committed to Pitt--once when Dave Wannstedt was coach. He spent a year at Milford Academy, with current Pitt defensive lineman Khaynin Mosley-Smith, before signing with Bowling Green. He played in nine games this season, rushing for 263 yards and three touchdowns.
Additionally, Bowling Green defensive coordinator Mike Elko was reportedly a candidate for Pitt's vacant defensive coordinator position this past offseason.
Pitt and Bowling Green have previously met in 1999, 2000 and 2008. The Panthers won those first two meetings (30-10 at Pitt Stadium in 1999, 34-16 at Bowling Green in 2000) before being stunned at Heinz Field, 27-17, in the 2008 opener.