With two conference losses
Though their chances are slim, at best, Pitt is still alive in the race for the conference crown and needs two wins in their three remaining games to keep any hopes of bowl eligibility alive. The Cardinals have won the past four meetings including the last game played between the schools, 33-29 in 1994. The all-time series is tied, 4-4.
Offense: 26.3 PPG / 46.7 PPG
Defense: 19.5 PPG / 26.9 PPG
Off Rush: 128.1 YPG / 190.6 YPG
Off Pass: 223.4 YPG / 309.3 YPG
Off Total: 351.5 YPG / 499.9 YPG
Def Rush: 152.9 YPG / 127.6 YPG
Def Total: 307.5 YPG / 343.9 YPG
T/O Margin: -3 / +8
Hidden Stats to Watch
The Panthers have given up a league high of 25 quarterback sacks and our second to last in the conference surrendering an average of 152.9 yards per game on the ground. Pitts' secondary is ranked fifth in the nation. The Panthers have scored more than 30 points in each of the last three games.
Both teams had a bye week heading into this conference showdown.
Tyler Palko ranks second in the Big East averaging 221.2 yards per game. For the season Palko has completed 140 of 247 passes (56.7%) for 1770 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Brian Brohm is the nations' leader in pass efficiency (169.8). On the year the sophomore quarterback has completed 150 of 216 passes for 2102 yards with 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
Analysis: Two of the Big East's top two quarterbacks square off for the first time. Brohm runs coach Petrinos' power offense to near perfection. Tyler Palko has struggled to gain the full concept of Matt Cavanaughs' offensive system. Palko has to remain patient and be cognizant of the pass rush. Keeping the Panthers out of long yardage situations will be a key for the Panthers.
The Pitt stable of running backs is finally healthy. However, head coach Dave Wannstedt won't name his starting tailback until game time. Though Ray Kirkley and Rashad Jennings will see action, expect speedster Larod Stephens-Howling to get the start. Stephens-Howling has carried the ball 67 times for 350 yards with a 5.2 yards per carry average.
Michael Bush is the Big East leading rusher and scorer. Bush, an incredible talent, is also considered one of the top backs in the country. During the season Bush has rushed for 813 yards on 148 carries, an average of 5.5 yards per carry with 18 rushing touchdowns.
Greg Lee ranks second in Big East play with a 20.9
YPR and 88.8 receiving yards per game. Lee is tied for the lead with five
touchdowns. Derek Kinder has come on strong. He has 28 receptions for 288 yards,
a 10.3 YPC and two touchdowns.
Joshua Tinch leads the Big East with 37 receptions. Tinch has amassed 423 receiving yards, a 11.4 YPC average with two touchdowns. Montrell Jones has 26 catches for 370 yards, a 14.2 average and three touchdowns. Mario Urrutia, leading the Big East in three receiving categories (96.2 YPG, 23.1 YPR and five touchdowns), is out for the game.
Analysis: Three of the five most prolific receivers in the Big East will be on the field Thursday night. Pitt's lock down corners, Josh Lay and Darrelle Revis can cover Louisvilles' talented tandem of Joshua Tinch and Montrell Jones. Can the Cardinal secondary contain Greg Lee, Derek Kinder and the three headed monster the Panthers have at tight end? The injury to Urrutia and Pitt's use of the tight end in the passing game gives Pitt a slight edge.
Over the past four games Pitt has been creating some turnovers. During this time, linebacker J.J. Horne has two interceptions and a fumble recovery. H.B. Blades leads the Big East, and is amongst the leaders nationally, in tackles per game, averaging 11 tackles per contest. The secondary stacks up against the nations elite. Darrelle Revis is second in the conference with four interceptions and is considered the top cover corners in the country. The defensive line has made huge strides but will be without starting defensive tackle Thomas Smith. Freshman Rashaad Duncan will get his first start.
Analysis: The defensive line of
Josh Cummings missed two games due to injury, but seems fully recovered. For the season he has made 11 of 15 field goal attempts (73.3%) with a long of 49 yards. Adam Graessle ranks third in the conference with a 43.1 average per punt. Return men, Darrelle Revis and LaRod Stephens-Howling are threats to go the distance every time they touch the football.
Art Carmody had his NCAA record of consecutive
PAT's (97) snapped earlier this season. Over his first two years at
Analysis: Both place kickers have NFL legs. Adam Graessle is one of the top punters in the country. Pitt also has more weapons in their return game.