History: This ‘classic’ event in Birmingham Alabama was initially chartered as the Papa John’s bowl, which had a history of issues from its inception; including poor ticket sales that required the crowd to sit on one side of the stadium (so it looked full on TV), to continual problems with the sponsor providing enough pizza. Our friends over at The Wizard Of Odds have done a great job at covering the fiasco- my favorite is the misspelled “Cincinnati” on the game t-shirts. Look, when the local media is making fun of you, and you’re supposed to be a tourism event, you know there’s a problem.
So, of course, with this much prestige it deserves a January 8 broadcast date. And why does it get the prime slot on ESPN? Well, probably because the network owns, operates, and profits from this matchup. When you argue about “why can’t we have a playoff?”, make sure you discuss the fact that the World Wide Leader will need to make tons of cash off of whatever solution you come up with. TV + Tourism = Money.
If you were looking for another reason to watch this, be aware that you’ll be able to enjoy the dulcet tones of Dave Neal and Andre Ware. Congrats.
Well, the automatic excitement for Panther football left when Dave Wannstedt did. And just when I got all excited about the Mike Haywood experience, that got pulled out from under us as well. With ol’ Dave, you knew what you were getting: sure, it wasn’t all that exciting, but sometimes you’re in the mood for green beans and mushroom soup.
The Panthers bring the Big East defensive player of the year with them; Jabaal Sheard ranks fifth in the nation in forced fumbles and has nine sacks on the season. DB Dom DiCicco has 58 solo tackles, which either says that Pitt is aggressive with their secondary pressure or that their front 7 have a hard time making tackles.
Offensively, sophomore Dion Lewis had what could be described as a disappointing year- that 956 yards and 12 TDs could be “disappointing” tells you the level of talent that Lewis had. As a freshman, he carried to the total of 1800 yards, and the expectations were enormous coming into 2010. Unfortunately, he only lived up to those against the Bearcats in the season’s final game- 261 yards and 4 touchdowns on the day. Perhaps he’s regained his rhythm just in time for bowl season.
Pitt/Buckeye Connections: Ohio State is 19-5-1 against the Panthers, including the 54-14 Terry Glenn show and the 72-0 beating during the last two meetings. And you wonder why Mark May has such an issue with the Buckeyes… Pitt has always had special teams issues against Ohio State, whether it’s the 99 yard KO return in the Fiesta Bowl or the punt return TD with only 8 players. Ownage.
To call Joker Phillips a ‘first year coach’ would be a misnomer, since he’s been on the coaching staff in Lexington since 2002. It’s one of the “head coach in waiting” situations that’s actually worked out the way the institution hoped… sorry Texas and Maryland. Joker is a UK alumni, and coached at UC, Minnesota, USCe, and was the WR coach in South Bend prior to Urban Meyer’s tenure with the Irish.
The big story around the football facilities at UK this off season has been Mike Hartline’s arrest, which definitely included alcohol and a female member of the UK cheer leading squad, and may have also included an assault by Hartline. Mike’s brother Brian was a standout at Ohio State and currently plays with the Miami Dolphins.
Give that Hartline has been suspended from the upcoming game; the ‘Kats will have to lean even more on the SEC’s leading receiver, Randall Cobb. Cobb has managed 950+ yards and 7 TDs through the air, but has gained 400 yards in the “WildCobb” formation;- rushing for 5 TDs and throwing for three more.
All American linebacker Danny Trevathan anchors the Blue and White’s defensive corps; leading the SEC in tackles. Redshirt freshman Qua Huzzie was named to Phil Steele’s freshman All American honors; although his injury issues may limit his impact on the Compass bowl.
In addition to the upset of South Carolina, the Wildcats also played Auburn down to the wire. However, they were unable to beat Tennessee and Old Miss, and were absolutely destroyed by Florida. Kentucky’s season has been up and down; it will be interesting to see which version comes to Birmingham.
Kentucky/Buckeye connections: Ohio State is 3-0 against Big Blue; but the last game was in 1935 and not even Vico has a tape from that. The only other connection that I could find was the Hartline thing mentioned earlier… but it ain’t gonna’ matter for this game.
Who Are We Picking?
UK’s big win was against South Carolina during a “trap” week, and they’re missing their starting quarterback. I like Pitt’s running game to control the tempo and the game. Although, I’d be more confident if we had more Wannestache.