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Entries in Pittsburgh (7)


College Football Notebook: OSU, Miami Shine In Tune-Ups

College Football Notebook

One Great Season

The first night of college football games is in the books, and here are my thoughts:

+ Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor helped his Heisman bid with a splendid performance in a blowout win over Marshall. But his passing mechanics still looked a tad gimpy on a couple of plays, and I'll be surprised if he enjoys similar success next week against Miami if he doesn't adjust. He threw one of his three touchdown passes from his back foot and heaved up some unusual third-and-long prayer that was nearly picked. Overall, though, he was close to excellent and it was nice to see Jim Tressel open things up slightly and call 25 passing plays for Pryor in barely more than three quarters' work. If it's true that players and teams make their largest improvements between Week 1 and Week 2, then Pryor and the Buckeyes should look pretty solid against Miami on Sept. 11.

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Big East Preview: Pitt Finally Claims The Crown

Picture Of Dion Lewis

One Great Season

Among power conferences, the Big East has become the butt of jokes in some college football circles, but what folks overlook is that it's actually been a pretty good league.

Thanks to three different teams, the Big East has had five squads finish in the AP top 10 in the last five years. The PAC 10, thanks mostly to USC, also has produced five and the ACC, the league to which former Big East brothers Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech bolted, has sent only three teams to such a lofty perch over that period.

Remember 2006, when Rutgers, West Virginia and Louisville all were ranked in the top 10 with a combined record of 25-2 at one point in November? That same week, only the mighty SEC had a comparable mark, with Florida, Arkansas and LSU also among the AP elite at 26-4. Not bad company.

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Separated At Birth: College Football Mascots?

This probably isn't what Paul Rudd had in mind when, as Brian Fantana in "Anchorman," he introduced America to Sex Panther, but is it possible that the mascots for instate neighbors Pittsburgh and Penn State were separated at birth? The Panther is on the left, the Nittany Lion is on the right.

(Fun fact: These pictures were both taken during games in which teams from Ohio were beating the Pennsylvania powers on their home fields.)

Pittsburgh Panther and Penn State Nittany Lion mascots


No. 15: Pittsburgh Panthers

Dion Lewis

The One Great Season College Football Countdown continues Monday. We'll be counting down the preseason Top 25 teams in 2010. Today's No. 15 is Pittsburgh.

One Great Season

When your top returners are an 1,800-yard sophomore running back and the Co-Big East's Defensive Player of the Year, it's safe to expect big things in the season ahead. And that's what's up at the University of Pittsburgh.

After two close misses in 2008 and 2009, Coach Dave Wannstedt's Panthers appear poised to snatch Big East supremacy away from Cincinnati.

They'll do so with running back Dion Lewis and defensive end Greg Romeus leading the way. Lewis is a Heisman Trophy candidate who could become the fourth straight sophomore to win college football's highest honor.

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Ohio Prep Stars Look To Build Rivalry In Big East

Up Next

One Great Season

CLEVELAND -- If Brian Kelly takes the job at Notre Dame, that could bring a double-dose of bad news to Cincinnati football fans.

First of all, the Bearcats would obviously be losing one of the nation's finest coaches, but if they don't tread carefully, they could also lose local quarterback prospect Luke Massa.

Massa said in a telephone interview with OGS Thursday that he doesn't know what he'll do if Kelly bolts, and the tall teen sounded fairly convincing as he said it.

"Right now I'm hoping he stays," said Massa, who this fall helped the Bombers to their eighth Greater Catholic League crown in the last 10 years, and the second round of the state playoffs. "When the time comes and he makes a decision, I'll have a decision to make, too."


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Massa gave the Bearcats a verbal commitment in July, but is well within his right to sign on someone else's dotted line when national letter-of-intent day hogs the headlines in February. Charlie Weis's regime at Notre Dame expressed interest, so perhaps there still might be room for him in South Bend if Kelly takes the job there after all?

Cincinnati Bearcats

Wisconsin and Cincinnati were the only schools to make offers, but Massa also "talked to Boston College, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt and Michigan State." Not a bad list of options.

With Kelly entrenched in the gossip section of the sports world, you'd think a few of the aforementioned schools would re-open those conversations. But Massa said that hasn't been the case, adding that in a perfect world, he'll play for Kelly at Nippert Stadium.

"It would be pretty cool to play in your hometown," he said. "Brian Kelly has been so successful here the last few years, and I'd love to be a part of it. The program is still on the rise."

And of course Massa is keenly aware how well the UC offense would showcase his talents for NFL scouts a few years down the line.

"I think UC would give me a great opportunity," he said. "They have such a good system and their offense is explosive."

St. Xavier's Jesuit rival in Cleveland, St. Ignatius, boasts first-team all-Ohio quarterback Mark Myers. The Wildcats beat Massa's Bombers in the regular season, and Myers's football future seems a little more stable than Massa's.

Pittsburgh Panthers

Myers is headed to Pittsburgh, where he hopes after a year or two of growing and learning, he can contend for a starting position and lead his Panthers to a couple of victories over Massa's conference-rival Bearcats.

"It will definitely be fun to play against him in the Big East," Myers said.

Added Massa: "I think both of our first starts were against each other as sophomores in 2007. The quarterback ahead of him got hurt, and the quarterback ahead of me got hurt too. It would be cool to compete against him again at the next level."

Myers said he visited Pittsburgh, just two hours away from Cleveland, three times over the summer. He said he likes that the school is in the city, adding he was also impressed by the facilities and the school's academic offerings.

Myers said he grew up watching Ohio State on autumn Saturdays, but despite a few conversations with Buckeyes brass, he "didn't think (he) would fit in with their offense."

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound lefty has drawn comparisons to Dave Ragone, among other strong-armed southpaws.

"I'll have to be very dedicated to football because it's your job in college for four years," Myers said.


Gameday Gallery: Pittsburgh at West Virginia

Tyler Bitancourt Kicks Game-Winning Field Goal

One Great Season

WASHINGTON, Pa. -- Friday night's game in Morgantown was the 13th on the OGS tour this season, and the first that was decided on the game's final play.

And there I was, indecisive and unprepared about how to shoot Tyler Bitancourt's game-winning field goal as time expired.

If you've been following my project this season, you know I don't come from a photography background, but along the way during my 15-year news career, I figured it might be smart to pick up some shooting skills, as well as a decent camera and lens.


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So while I still have some work to do to lens like a serious pro, I think I'm getting better at at least thinking like one. When it became clear the Mountaineers were calling their last two plays with field position in mind, and setting up the decisive field goal, I hurriedly looked around for an angle different from where everyone else would be shooting from. The only thing I had time to do was climb 10 steps up one of the portals into the stands and ask an usher if I could shoot from there, between the 10- and 15-yard lines.

As the teams traded timeouts, I fished around my camera bag for my widest lens -- 18mm -- but it's not a great lens and after I finally got the 200mm off and put the wider lens on, the teams were lining up so I hurriedly pointed the camera and fired away.

In my frantic effort to set up the shot, I'd put the camera on Program mode, assuming it would give me the largest aperture setting. And as you can see by this Photoshopped picture, that was not the case.

Anyway, I did at least like one thing about the picture: Pitt wideout Jonathan Baldwin, whose 50-yard touchdown reception tied the game just a few minutes earlier, shows a vertical leap worthy of a look from Jamie Dixon, efforting albeit unsuccessfully to block Bitancourt's kick.

That was just one picture, and it turned out to be a learning experience, as much of this tour has. Here's the rest of the Gameday Gallery.


Backyard Nailbiter: WVU Beats Pitt On Final Play

Tyler Bitancourt Kicks Game-Winning Field Goal

One Great Season

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Bill Stewart said this week that fundamentals win most games, especially rivalry games.

The West Virginia coach proved to be as accurate with that assessment as, say, a 43-yard field goal as time expired, lifting the Mountaineers to a thrilling 19-16 defeat of visiting Pittsburgh in Friday's Backyard Brawl.

Kicker Tyler Bitancourt connected on the game's final play, triggering a midfield celebration that no one layered in blue and gold wanted to end. With fans screaming behind him, Bitancourt even spoke to ESPN as the party kicked into high gear. For a night in Morgantown at least, Bitancourt will be regarded as the most interesting man in the world.

WVU Beats Pitt On Final Play

The play was set up after West Virginia barely got a first down on 4th and 1 at the Pitt 27. Two plays later, the home team let the clock tick down to :03 before calling a timeout, which was followed by a Pitt timeout. Bitancourt, who'd made three field goals earlier in the game, wasn't rattled by the delay, despite frigid conditions all night long at Mountaineer Field.

But back to fundamentals. The Panthers turned the ball over twice and missed two field goals, while the Mountaineers, though far from perfect, made no such mistakes.

Talented Pittsburgh freshman Dion Lewis, among the nation's top running backs, picked up 155 yards on the night, but it was quarterback Bill Stull's right arm that finally got the visitors into the end zone. He threw a 50-yard rainbow that Jonathan Baldwin raced under and caught just before the goal line, having beaten the West Virginia defense to tie the score at 16-16 with 2:54 left.

That's when Mountaineers quarterback Jarrett Brown took over, calmly leading his offense into Pittsburgh territory and turning a late possession into a game-winning drive after almost turning the trick in his team's last outing two weeks ago at Cincinnati.

Noel Devine Scores Third-Quarter Touchdown

West Virginia also scored only one touchdown, and it too was of the big-play variety. Noel Devine took a first-down handoff late in the third quarter and hurried 88 yards down the left sideline to break a 6-6 tie.

The loss might have been more damaging to Cincinnati (11-0, 6-0 Big East) than to Pittsburgh (9-2, 5-1). The teams play at Heinz Field on Dec. 5 for the Big East championship. Despite Friday's loss, Pitt can still win the league with a defeat of the fifth-ranked Bearcats, who beat Illinois Friday afternoon. But with the Panthers expected to tumble in the rankings, UC misses out on a chance to beat a Top 10 opponent and earn some last-minute BCS cred.