El Paso, Here We Come

EL PASO, Texas -- The University of Pittsburgh has accepted an invitation to play in the 75th annual Brut Sun Bowl, announced Sun Bowl Association executive director Bernie Olivas.

The game has the No. 23 Panthers facing a team from the Pac-10 Conference Wednesday, Dec. 31 at noon (MT) at Sun Bowl Stadium. It will be 2 p.m. Eastern and broadcast nationally by CBS-TV.

"We are extremely happy to have extended an invitation to Pittsburgh to play in the 75th anniversary of the Brut Sun Bowl,'' Sun Bowl Association executive director Bernie Olivas said. "Pittsburgh has a storied football program and will be making its third trip to El Paso. They area team on the rise and we could not be more excited.''

Pittsburgh (9-3, 5-2 Big East) secured the selection with a 34-10 road win against Connecticut. The victory marked the fourth win in the last five games for the Panthers and gave them a nine-win regular season for the first time since 1982. Pitt's opponent from the Pac-10 will be decided later today.

"Everything about Pittsburgh right now is a positive,'' SBA football chairman John Folmer said. "They really bring so much to the table. Running back LeSean McCoy will remind a lot of people of Tony Dorsett, who rushed for 142 yards in the 1975 Sun Bowl for Pittsburgh. Local fans will also remember (head coach) Dave Wannstedt, who spent four seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys.''

This will mark the third appearance by the Panthers in the Brut Sun Bowl. The Panthers first came to El Paso under the direction of Johnny Majors in 1975 and returned in 1989 with Paul Hackett at the helm.

Pitt defeated Kansas, 33-19, in the 1975 Sun Bowl. Wannstedt served as a graduate assistant coach for Majors. The Panthers set an NCAA bowl game record that day, as three players from the same team rushed for 100 yards. Tony Dorsett rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns and Elliott Walker added 123 yards and two touchdowns, while the game's MVP, quarterback Robert Haygood, added 101 yards rushing and 60 yards through the air on eight of 11 passing.

Pittsburgh returned to the Sun Bowl in 1989 to take on Texas A&M. A freshman quarterback named Alex Van Pelt led the Panthers on a come-from-behind victory to secure a 31-28 win over the Aggies. Swervin' Curvin Richards rushed for 156 yards that day for Pitt, while Van Pelt completed 20 of 40 passes for 354 yards and two touchdowns.

This marks the 25th bowl appearance by Pittsburgh, but the first since the 2004 season, when the Panthers won a share of the Big East Conference title and participated in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Pittsburgh is 11-13 all-time in bowl appearance and 2-0 in the Brut Sun Bowl.

The Panthers are 22-22 against Pac-10 schools all-time -- Arizona (1-0), Arizona State (0-1), California (3-2), Oregon (2-2), Oregon State (1-0), Stanford (2-1), UCLA (5-9), USC (4-6) and Washington (4-1). Pitt gets Oregon State, reportedly, if Southern Cal beats UCLA tonight.

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