NCAA FB

Panthers looking for momentum, bowl berth at USF

Share This Story

   
 

PITTSBURGH (AP)

(Eds: Updates with details, quotes. With AP Photos.)By WILL GRAVESAP Sports Writer

Mike Shanahan isn't picky. The Pittsburgh senior wide receiver will settle for a bowl game - any bowl game - if the Panthers can get eligible with a victory on Saturday at South Florida.

Yes, Birmingham included.

The Panthers (5-6, 2-4 Big East) have traveled to Alabama each of the last two Januarys for the BBVA Compass Bowl. There's a shot they could make it three straight if they find a way to beat the reeling Bulls (3-8, 1-5).

As monotonous as it sounds, considering the bumpy path the program has traveled during Shanahan's career, he'll take it.

''Well, it's a blessing to go anywhere, I guess,'' Shanahan said. ''But if we've got to go back there we'll try to win again. So, it'll be all right.''

Playing good football hasn't been an issue for Pitt this season. Playing good football consistently is another matter entirely.

The Panthers' emphatic 27-6 thumping of Rutgers last Saturday was their second win over a ranked team this season and the fourth time they've played a quality opponent tight.

Pitt came closer than anyone else did this season of unseating top-ranked Notre Dame, falling to the Fighting Irish in triple overtime earlier this month. Yet the Panthers have also lost to the likes of Youngstown State and Connecticut while looking uninspired in wins over Buffalo and Gardner-Webb.

''Every game there's a fine line and you have to play good football and do the things that lead to winning games,'' coach Paul Chryst said. ''I think it is a fine line and I've always believed that. I don't know if it's more now, than before.''

It's one the Panthers need to be on the winning side of one more time to assure themselves of a fifth straight bowl berth.

The extra month of practice a bowl game would provide could do wonders for the underclassmen who will lead the charge next fall when Pitt moves from the Big East to the ACC.

It would also provide a nice send-off to a senior class that saw the program go through four different head coaches - six if you count interims - and a conference move that precipitated a realignment craze that is changing the face of college athletics.

''I think it would be good to know that we could overcome anything and still get to another bowl game,'' Shanahan said. ''I've gone to a bowl game every year since I've been here, so I want to keep that streak going this season.''

Even if it means knowing just how close an OK season could have turned into a special one. The losses to Youngstown State, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Louisville were all winnable games, ones the Panthers couldn't quite close on.

It's something Shanahan said the players try not to let get to their heads.

''I guess, when you look back a little this season there are a few games that could have gone either way,'' Shanahan said. ''There were some that we thought we should have won, but I don't know why we didn't win them. Maybe we just weren't ready to win those games.''

If the Panthers aren't ready to win on Saturday it will lead to a longer-than-expected offseason, though Chryst is optimistic his team is finally starting to get what it means to play consistently no matter the level of the opponent.

A .500 season and a lower-level bowl isn't quite the special season the Panthers envisioned in August. Then again, for Chryst and a program that's been in perpetual transition for two years, it's a start.

''Coach Chryst already told us that he'd take care of us seniors if we make it,'' Shanahan said. ''I don't know what that would entail, but I'm looking forward to it. So, we just need to go out with a win this week and see what happens with a bowl game.''

---

Follow Will Graves at www.twitter.com/WillGravesAP

Tagged: Pittsburgh, Louisiana Tech, Mike Shanahan

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by

College Football Pick'em on FOX


NCAA FB Videos

Sumlin annoyed by media's Manziel questions Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Kevin Sumlin responds to questions about life after Johnny Football by toying wi...

AJ Pasquale's journey back to UCLA Posted: Jun 17, 2014
UCLA football ops intern AJ Pasquale describes his own personal journey after th...

Winston issued adult civil citation Posted: Apr 30, 2014
Get the latest news surrounding Jameis Winston's recent shoplifting fiasco.

Get Inside the Locker Room with Scout.com

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/759777/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_759000/ff_759777_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Michigan_State_Spartans/browse/featuredproduct/760171/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_760000/ff_760171_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White
    Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_USC_Trojans/browse/featuredproduct/761373/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_761000/ff_761373_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/829709/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829709_xl.jpg&w=100 64.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimso..
    Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_LSU_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/829740/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829740_xl.jpg&w=100 49.99 Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple
    Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oklahoma_Sooners/browse/featuredproduct/830935/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_830000/ff_830935_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/861243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861243_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue
    adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Nebraska_Cornhuskers/browse/featuredproduct/861247/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861247_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapback Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1087345/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1087000/ff_1087345_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapba..
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1093431/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1093000/ff_1093431_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash