Big Lead Sports Bar

12/02/2007

I Don't Want to Say I Called It, But...

PITT (5-7) 13
WVU (10-2) 9

Mondesi's House, 11/28/07: "The PG takes a memorable look back at Pitt's 41-38, 3 OT upset of the Mountaineers in 1997. I can't wait for 2017, when the PG looks back at the 2007 Pitt upset of the national championship-bound WVU."

Mondesi's House, 11/26/07: "Other than myself and Dave Wannstedt, who else out there thinks Pitt's going to upset WVU?"

So thank you to the newly-extended Wannstache, thank you to Shady McCoy, and thank you to the Pitt Panthers. You made one of my extremely rare forays into prognostication a successful one. I'll be looking for that Paul Zeise article in '17.

Yes, some thought I was drunk at the keyboard by saying that Pitt could beat the Mountaineers. But the way this college season has gone, starting with Appalachian State and ending with the Brawl, didn't it just seem like the natural choice?

Let's face it...everything lined up for the Panthers to win this game. First of all, the line (28 points the last time I heard) was rather high, especially for a rivalry game. That was motivation factor #1 for the Fighting Staches. Second, I'm sure there was a speech along the lines of "You have a chance to shock the world tonight"...you know, for all of those fans in Bangladesh and Kazakhstan who didn't give Pitt a chance. And finally, Sir Limps a Lot got extended prior to the game, and his players surely wanted to show that the school made the right move. Plus, Pitt's bus got hit with rocks on the way to the stadium, which Shady McCoy pointed out to the team before the game by saying, "Hey, it's just like the movies."

I'd say that this was the most memorable Pitt game I've ever witnessed in my life. As far as a springboard into the offseason, there could be no better script. Momentum is fully on the Panthers' side. They just completed a compelling three-hour commercial for their program with the whole nation watching. They have an NFL-caliber tailback. They have a gaggle of injured, big-time players due back next season. And they have an extremely young team who surely believes in the system, a system now locked in through 2012.

I was on the edge of my seat the entire evening. Knowing how quick WVU's offense could strike, and knowing that Pitt was capable of giving up lots of points/yards lingered in the back of my mind until the clock hit 0:00. But it never happened. Despite the best efforts of the officials to keep the Mountaineers in the title game and the Big East in the National Championship, the Panthers somehow overcame that huge obstacle as well. They simply would not be denied.

When McCoy's touchdown came off the board and Conor Lee subsequently missed a field goal, I thought that would be the momentum-changer I feared. Wrong. When Noel Devine's long return set up the 'Eers in Pitt territory, with an emotional lift from the return of Pat White, I thought surely that would awaken West Virginia. But again I was incorrect. In fact, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Pitt's Paul Rhoads defense, which has been run over back to the days of Julius Jones and Kevin Jones, was not giving an inch. That 13-7 score kept looming/scaring me; with every bad call I envisioned this game ending up as a 14-13 heartbreaker. But that moment simply never arrived.

Pat White had 14 carries for 41 yards; Slaton totalled 11 yards on just nine carries; phenom Devine also ran for only 11 on seven carries. As a team, WVU ran 41 times for 104 yards, a whopping 2.5 yards per attempt. Were we watching an episode of The Twilight Zone? No, it was just the blueprint of Dave Wannstedt football finally coming to fruition.

Predictably, West Virginia was classless from all angles on Saturday. Starting with the rock shower of Pitt's bus and ending with Coach Rodriguez (of the Brian Billick Honorary Offensive Genius Category) blaming the loss on his team's failure to execute. No, Pitt's suffocating play had nothing to do with it. But I really enjoyed hearing Pitt's players celebrate in the background while you grasped for words at the podium. I presume no couches were harmed in the process.

To the Pitt players and to the much-maligned coaching staff, relish the attention. You deserve all of it. You've suffered through a number of embarrassing and tough moments the past few years. It's always exciting to turn the tables, especially on your arch rival.

Game notes:

--Everyone who's blaming the WVU loss on Pat White's injury...save it. Have some class and give credit where it is due, especially since White generated zero offense when he was healthy.

Pitt has played without their original starting quarterback the entire season. Heck, they're still so conservative with the kid that the run/pass ratio was 52 runs to 19 throws. But he made plays when he had to.

--Your heart had to go out to poor Oderick Turner, who was unfairly flagged not once, but twice on crucial plays. Phantom holding calls on the receiver wiped out McCoy's touchdown as well as a huge third-down conversion down the stretch. For Turner's mental health alone, it was an important win for Pitt.

--Who else enjoyed the VERY audible Dave Wannstedt saying, "That's a bulls***" call on national TV?

--Every ESPN announcer I heard, from the game to SportsCenter to their college wrapup show, was very critical of the officiating. Nice to know we're not imagining things.

--Did anyone catch Lou Holtz' motivational speech to the Panthers on ESPN earlier in the week? Was that the spark that put the Panthers over the top? Of course not, but it's always funny to see Holtz get worked up.

Links you should read:

On-field and Locker Room Celebrations [Pitt Blather]

Screenshot Happiness [Pitt Blather]

Pitt scripts one last outrageous twist to crazy '07 season (with video) [ESPN/Pat Forde]

Pitt brawls its way to victory on the strength of its defense [Post Gazette/Paul Zeise]

Pitt shatters WVU's national title hopes [Trib/Rick Starr]

14 comments:

Dirty Sanchez said...

Couches all through West Virginia breathed a sigh of relief last night.

You almost have to wonder if the refs were told before the game, "Uhh, guys, make sure WVU gets in the title game."

apk said...

Unfortunately, couches in Oakland weren't so lucky.

http://www.wpxi.com/sports/14749340/detail.html


Classy. Real classy.
My only question, what happens when Pitt wins SIX games?

The Duke said...

That was the same Lou Holtz who predicted Notre Dame would win 9 games this year.

Paul Rupp said...

Lou Holtz is as senile as the Mountaineers are overrated.

Debra said...

hey apk, bitter much? About as classy as those WVU "fans" throwing rocks and shouting abuse at the Pitt team bus?

Mondesi you are spot on. As a Pitt alum I could not be prouder of this bunch of resilient, talented kids. Can't wait til next year. Let's go Pitt!

Johnny said...

Might be going overboard with the whole "most memorable game I've witnessed as a Pitt fan". Not sure how old you are but there are definitely some good ones out there. None-the-less, a great victory.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

apk,

The couch burning was done to make fun of WVU.

I can't recall the last time the students in Oakland got that excited about Pitt football. It was cool to see, since I don't think the 'burgh's had a good ol fashioned "sports riot" since the Steelers won the Super Bowl.

And it wasn't the number of games we won or lost, it was just about the one game that we DID win!! Honestly, would getting 7 wins and playing in the fucking Car Care Bowl be better than what happened Saturday?!?!

And it wasn't Lou's pep talk, it was watching Mark May come out in his old Pitt jersey at the end spoting an impressive set of guns that fired up the team. The fear of embarassing and angering the usually mild-mannered May is what caused them to win!!

worstavid said...

I'd say that aside from Pitt's National Championship win against Georgia, that this was the biggest win that they've had in a good 25 years...that includes bowl games played during that time span.

The game took on an almost surreal appearance as time after time the hoopleheads were thwarted. It then took on sinister overtones as one ridiculous call after another kept preventing Pitt from putting the Mountaineers away.

Note to Dave Wannstedt: Save your breath when complaining to the Big East. As much as it pains me to say this, I wouldn't be surprised if "keeping it close" wasn't in the officials' marching orders, it was that brutal.

In fact, those holding calls were so bad that whoever the official was who was making them should be investigated by the FBI! Officials in other leagues in recent years have already been convicted of point shaving, etc. Is it so hard to believe that some misguided Big East League Administrator may have put the word out to this crew that West Virginia was to win that game at all possible cost for the good of the Big East?

apk said...

Not bitter at all, actually. Neither a Pitt nor WVU fan. Full disclosur-- I'm a Penn State guy, but not a PSU apologist, like others around here. Just thought it'd be interesting to see if the often sanctimonious Pitt fans on this site would quickly dismiss their own fans' dangerous, childish antics.

thanks for not failing to disappoint.

Debra said...

That's funny. So I guess that would make you one of the often self-righteous buzz-killing PSU fans you see EVERYWHERE. Never fails to disappoint! Cheers.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Hey, I didn't see Pitt students chucking beer cans at West Virginia fans did I?

I don't think they should be burning couches, it's dangerous and one of them can get hurt.

But when it's done in more of a mocking and ironic manner, then at least I can laugh at the joke.

Besides, that was the first sign of life I've seen out of Pitt fans in seemingly forever. Hopefully it's a sign of the official ressurection of Pitt's football program both on the field, and amongst the fans!

Does the "a" in apk happen to stand for "Adam"?

apk said...

actually, it does, but i can absolutely 100% assure you that i AM NOT "Adam from Penn State." I attended a tiny undergrad school and then, actually, went to Pitt for grad school. I'm not a PSU homer, and I honestly don't really care about the couch-burning in Oakland. However, when I saw it on the news, i thought that it made some Pitt students (who, in a roundabout way, represent me as a member of the same institution) look like total idiots, and I was ashamed, for however brief a moment, to have graduated from there. When I felt that, I wondered if anything would be said here, a place that pretty much leads the league in coming down on State for even the smallest of transgressions.

On the other hand, im not trying to dismiss any of the crap that's happened at State this season, because much of it is inexcusable-- especially the assault on the OSU fans.

On the other hand, I think that Pitt fans' attempt at irony is misplaced, because the kids screaming about how awesome, etc. the couch burning was while they were on TV weren't making a very good case for irony. It was more along the lines of stooping to your rival's level, instead of rising above- which is really what Pitt should be striving for.

Tremendous win, though. I didn't mean to try to "buzzkill" that at all. Though, in my soul, i hate Pitt, i have to admit that a stronger Pitt program makes it that much more likely that the PSU/Pitt rivalry comes back someday. I just hope that when they get to play again, both sides can be competitive and classy about trying to destroy each other.

Cecil from Cecil Twp. said...

worstavid-

1997 Pitt-WVU was better.

I won't call my school "Pittsburgh," Steve Pederson. Just telling you now.

And don't try to tear down the friggin' O.

deltadoug said...

"No, it was just the blueprint of Dave Wannstedt football finally coming to fruition." Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. That's an absolute joke. Wannstedt has been a miserable failure as a head coach (both pro and college) for so many years. So, why did it take until the very last game of the season for Wannstedt's brilliance to shine through, and why did it seem to happen all of a sudden???

And please coherently explaint to me what exactly was "classless" about Rich Rodriguez blaming the loss, in part, on his teams failure to execute? WVU obviously did not execute on offense. If consider Rodriguez's comments classless, they were no less classless than Wannstedt repeatedly yelling "bullsh!t" to the officials. (My own thought is neither Coach was "classless", because those things -- explaining your thoughts about a game and yelling at officials -- are things that happen in football).

Nevertheless, the best thing that happened to WVU on Saturday night was Pitt extending Wannstedt's contract.

Anyway, I'm sure you idiots out there (who can't see past Oakland) will be cheering for Oklahoma, even though a win by WVU makes the entire Big East Conference look good nationally -- so keep thinking like morons.

As a final thought,we should all remember that our college football hopes and dreams rise and fall on the backs of a bunch of 18-22 year old kids.