BBVA Compass Bowl: Pittsburgh Looking to Cap off Big East Bowl Season

By Alex Callos

The Pittsburgh Panthers (6-6) will be the final team to take the field for the Big East during bowl season when they battle SMU (7-5) in the BBVA Compass Bowl.

A win by Pittsburgh will give the Big East a 4-1 record in bowl games and help the league earn a little more respect.

Pittsburgh will be looking to finish the regular season with a winning record.

They will be coached by interim head coach Keith Patterson who is filling in for Todd Graham. Graham bolted for Arizona St. and will be replaced for former Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst once the game is over.

The Panthers have had an up and down season all year, due in part to the season ending knee injury to star running back Ray Graham midway through the year.

A lot more has been asked of Tino Sunseri who has shown signs, but also struggled during parts of the season.

The quarterback has passed for 2,433 yards with 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

The struggles of Sunseri have shown for the Panthers when it comes to scoring points. Pittsburgh has only averaged 25.8 points a game all season, good for 69th in the country.

The defense has held its own, allowing 22.4 points a game, ranking them in the top 35 in the country.

SMU is coached by June Jones and has improved drastically this season. The Mustangs are going to be a huge challenge for the Panthers due in part to their passing attack that ranked in the top 25 in the country, averaging nearly 280 yards a game.

Quaterback J.J. McDermott has passed for 3,182 yards to go with 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

His two favorite targets are receivers Darius Johnson and Cole Beasley. Both have over 950 yards on the season and are threats to score any time they touch the ball.

Running back Zach Line is one of the best kept secrets in the entire country. He has rushed for 1,224 yards and 17 touchdowns, while avergaing nearly six yards a carry on the season.

Pittsburgh will have to try and slow down the SMU attack and force a few turnovers in the process. If they can do that, they will have a chance to be successful.

This game is likely to be close, but with the way the season has gone for the Panthers, finishing with a win will be tough.

Prediction: SMU 34, Pittsburgh 28



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