Pitt Should Have Successful 2009

The Pitt football team already is getting some love from several preseason publications, as the Panthers are poised to win their second Big East title in the upcoming 2009 season.

In its annual college football yearbook, the The Sporting News has picked Pittsburgh to win the Conference crown this year and go to a second BCS bowl after the season.

"Dave Wannstedt has the personnel in place,'' writes The Sporting News, which predicts the Panthers will earn a visit to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl.

Four Pitt players were named to its All-Big East team, including redshirt junior offensive tackle Jason Pinkston, senior tight end Nate Byham, redshirt junior defensive end Greg Romeus and senior cornerback Aaron Berry. Additionally, tailback Dion Lewis was rated as the Big East's "Top Impact Freshman.''

In breaking down Pitt's 2009 schedule, The Sporting News highlighted the annual November Backyard Brawl with West Virginia as the "Game to Watch.''

"The conference title could be decided under a national spotlight the day after Thanksgiving,'' wrote TSN. "The Panthers have won two straight low-scoring affairs."

Also on newsstands is Athlon Sports Big East 2009 Preview, which picks Pitt to finish fourth in the conference. In its unit rankings, however, the Panthers' defensive line and secondary are ranked No. 1 in the Big East.

Athlon's first-team All-Big East selections include Byham, Pinkston, Romeus and Berry. Additionally, fifth-year senior defensive tackle Mick Williams is a second-team pick. Named third-team All-Big East are Lewis, sophomore receiver Jonathan Baldwin, senior offensive guard John Malecki, junior defensive end Jabaal Sheard and junior safety Dom DeCicco.

Athlon additionally put together a "Big East All-Decade Team.'' Pitt tied for the most selections with five, including current NFL Pro Bowlers in wideout Larry Fitzgerald and cornerback Darrelle Revis. Pitt's other All-Decade picks were linebackers H.B. Blades and Scott McKillop and offensive lineman Rob Petitti.

The Panthers will play a 12-game regular-season schedule this year that includes seven games at Heinz Field. Pitt's home slate includes games with Notre Dame, Navy and Youngstown State among non-conference matchups, while Cincinnati, Connecticut, Syracuse and South Florida visit Heinz Field to play Big East contests.

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