Big East Showdown: Pittsburgh vs. South Florida, Feel the Excitement.

We’re in for a Big East-style showdown, featuring more than its fair share of mediocrity. The conference still exists for now, and will have a champion, also known as “the grenade” to BCS bowl commissioners. Both South Florida and Pittsburgh have a legitimate chance to be that punchline. Every team in the Big East does, because the conference stinks. At least they still have that massive TV deal in the works. Ha!

Haves and May No Longer Haves: Pittsburgh looked out for number one and joined the ACC. That conference could be a reasonable power broker keeping all its teams. It could simply exist and play some awesome basketball. Either way, they are set. South Florida could get screwed. They aren’t SEC-caliber. The ACC would have no interest. There is no guarantee the conference they eventually join would have an automatic-BCS bid. That probably shoots down any chance of keeping Skip Holtz longterm.

Last Year About This Time: Pitt played a Thursday Night game in their NFL stadium. It was the Miami players who felt right at home. 31-3. Wanton destruction by Miami’s defense. The obligatory Jacory Harris interceptions. You can find the highlights in Tito Sunseri’s nightmares.

South Florida on Offense: Pitt’s aggregate numbers aren’t spectacular against the pass, but, against Notre Dame, they were able to shut down Michael Floyd (four catches, 27 yards). The only USF receiver averaging more than three receptions per game is Sterling Griffin. Similar work on him could hamper B.J. Daniels’ passing, which has been mostly mistake free thus far. The key will be establishing their three-pronged rushing attack against an allright Pitt run defense.

Pittsburgh on Offense: It’s a transition period. The Panthers just aren’t very good. Tino Sunseri neither changes nor manages games with any aplomb. Pitt is heavily reliant on running back Ray Graham who, since torching Buffalo, has been neither all that nor a bag of chips. He was held under 100 yards rushing and produced no touchdowns against both Notre Dame or Iowa.

Prediction: South Florida is good enough to beat decent opponents who don’t play well. Pittsburgh is good enough to not quite beat decent opponents who don’t play well. Pittsburgh playing at home should make it slightly closer. I’m expecting much contained running and a 17-14 South Florida win.

[Photo via Getty]

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