BBVA Compass Bowl: Pittsburgh Falls to Future Big East Member SMU

By Alex Callos

The Big East finished the bowl season with a 28-6 loss by Pittsburgh to SMU. The Panthers (6-7) were dominated from start to finish by the Mustangs.

The league finished 3-2 in bowl games, but some positives can be taken from the loss by the Panthers.

One of those positives is the fact that the Panthers lost to a future Big East member in SMU.

SMU was not the only future member of the Big East to win a bowl game. Houston and Boise St. also dominated their bowl games, which is something positive that can be taken from bowl season.

The Panthers had a transition year and with the loss are one of four Big East teams to finish the season with a losing record.

Those numbers are not something to be proud of as half of the league finished under .500.

Like many other games for the Panthers, this one started off rather slowly.

SMU jumped all over Pittsburgh en route to a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Quarterback Tino Sunseri struggled like he has for most of the season and completed 19-28 passes for 183 yards and an interception.

While Sunseri did not have a good game, the lack of rushing attack was what doomed the Panthers. Pittsburgh only totaled 10 yards on the ground on 30 carries.

The future however, is looking brighter for a Pittsburgh team that returns most of its skill players.

Running back Ray Graham will be back from injury for his senior season next year. Quarterback Tino Sunseri also will be entering his final year in Pittsburgh.

Leading wide receiver Devin Street who caught 53 balls for 754 yards will only be a junior next year and second-leading receiver Mike Shanahan will return for his senior season.

Tight end Hubie Graham will also be back for his senior year.

The key to the offense, however for Pittsburgh will be how well Sunseri can develop. If he can not improve dramatically, then the rest of the offense will certainly struggle.

The Panthers still have two years remaining in the Big East, so it would be beneficial for the conference if the Panthers had some success.

As it looks right now, the 2012 Panthers are looking much better than the 2011 version.

But, only time will tell if that will be the case when they take the field in 2012.

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