October 20, 2007

Pitt ends four-game slide

Pitt's four-game losing streak finally came to an end on Saturday afternoon at Heinz Field, as the Panthers topped No. 23 Cincinnati 24-17. With the win, Pitt's record improves to 3-4, 1-1 in the Big East, and the Panthers build a slight amount of momentum as they move full-speed into the conference schedule.

In addition, Pitt's win carries a number of significant sidebars, including, beating a ranked opponent for the first time since November of 2004, when the Panthers beat then-No. 21 West Virginia at home; winning a game in which they were the underdogs; and, for the first time in the Dave Wannstedt era, coming from behind to win a game after trailing at halftime.

But Wannstedt said after the game that none of that really mattered; for his team, it was just about breaking the losing streak.

"I don't know if it would have been any different today with who we were playing," Wannstedt said. "The state of mind our football team was in, we needed to get a win. Because it was against a Big East opponent who was ranked, yeah, that was nice. But it wouldn't have made any difference who we were playing: we needed to win to keep life, to keep believing and keep working hard."

For Pitt to put an end to the four-game slide, the focus came down to the basics of Wannstedt's football philosophy. Most specifically, that mean running the ball well, which the Panthers did to near-perfection in the form of 260 yards rushing on 46 attempts (5.7 yards per rush). That total broken down into an ideal split between freshman LeSean McCoy (137 yards on 25 carries) and junior LaRod Stephens-Howling (100 yards on 13 carries). Saturday was the first time since 1988 that two Pitt running backs have gone over the century mark in the same game, and both players liked the way the ball was handed out.

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!