Present Iteration: BBVA Compass Bowl
Past Iterations: PapaJohns.com Bowl, Birmingham Bowl
Toasting Town: Birmingham, Alabama
Combatants: SMU (7-5) vs. Pittsburgh (6-6)
Holiday Equivalent: Staying one day too long.
Both SMU and Pitt were touched by Arizona State’s amateur coaching search. The university had all but hired June Jones from SMU, before relenting to booster backlash. They ended up hiring perpetual climber Todd Graham who ditched Pittsburgh after a year.
Pittsburgh Panthers [SRS 50]
Best Wins: South Florida (51), Louisville (59), Connecticut (73)
Losses: Notre Dame (17), West Virginia (32), Cincinnati (35), Iowa (36), Utah (40), Rutgers (52)
Famous Alum: Gene Kelly
Pittsburgh’s offense is terrible. They spent a year converting from uber-pro to Todd Graham’s high-octane. Now Graham, and most of his coaches, have departed. Tino Sunseri makes poor decisions and just isn’t very good. Their offensive line allowed 56 sacks, nine more than anyone else in FBS. Star running back Ray Graham is out for the season. Chryst could be their savior, but not until next season.
Southern Methodist Mustangs [SRS 75]
Best Wins: TCU (18), UCF (77)
Losses: Texas A&M (11), Houston (13), Southern Miss (28), Tulsa (39), Navy (69)
Famous Alum: Hacksaw Jim Duggan
The Mustangs put up solid, top 30 yardage, but were erratic and finished 120th in turnover margin. Senior J.J. McDermott replaced injured starter Kyle Padron and threw just as many interceptions, 16, as touchdowns. Productive tailback Zach Line, 1,224 yards and 17 touchdowns through 10 games, is out for the season. They do have some quick wide receivers, however, who could pose problems if the offensive line holds up against Pitt’s pass rush.
For Recreational Purposes: Pitt (-3.5)