BBVA Compass Bowl Preview

January 7, 2012

No superstar players, no Danica Patrick commercials, no problem?

Actually, there are a lot of problems with this game. Most importantly is the fact that it should have been played weeks ago, with the other minor bowls that people only watch when they have nothing better to do.

You may not be watching this game, but here is the preview for it.

BBVA Compass Bowl

Pittsburgh vs. SMU

It’s sad really, when you think about the number of things that could potentially make this game a total snooze fest. Both teams’ top running back is out with an injury, the head coaches to start the season either tried to leave or did leave (which could result in motivation issues), and the one offense that could score a lot of points has sputtered in the second half of the season. These are just the main issues, too.

It would be completely understandable if Pittsburgh came out and looked totally flat in this game. The uncertainty over the past two years regarding the head coaching position has got to be taking a toll on the players, especially quarterback Tino Sunseri. Sunseri was supposed to become a classic drop back passer under former coach Dave Wannstedt but instead had to learn Todd Graham’s spread offense this season. While it did not work well, it is a testament to Sunseri’s leadership qualities that he will still be extremely crucial to Pittsburgh’s success in this bowl game. With his ability as a passer and the struggles of the Panthers rushing attack since an injury to Ray Graham, Sunseri’s effectiveness in moving the ball down the field through the air will determine whether Pittsburgh is able to score enough points to win.

If SMU wants to win this game, it is going to have to revert to being the team that upset TCU in October. The Mustangs could also have some trust issues with coach June Jones, who in a weird twist of fate is still at SMU because Todd Graham took the coaching job that he would have left for. However, that is the least of SMU’s problems. Since running back Zach Line was injured, the offense has had a lot of trouble moving the ball. In addition, the Mustangs are going up against a Pitt defensive front that is very talented and would’ve been tough to move the ball against even if Line was playing. That means that the workload rests on the shoulders of quarterback J.J. McDermott, who has had an average season at best. Sometimes erratic and prone to throwing interceptions, McDermott will need to run Jones’ Run-and-Shoot offense to perfection if SMU is to win this game. Otherwise, the big uglies on Pitt’s defensive line will make this a game to forget for the Mustangs.

Both teams are susceptible to motivation issues and could come out flat. However, I believe that the offensive struggles of SMU combined with Pitt’s solid defense will make this a predictable and equally boring game. I have the Panthers for 17 points in the College Bowl Mania game.

Final Score: 20-14 Pittsburgh

– K. Becks

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