Oct 04, 2011

Pittsburgh at Rutgers is the Champs Sports Bowl Game Of The Week

This season, pick who you think will win the Champs Sports Bowl Game of the Week and WIN! Answer the question on the Champs Sports Bowl Facebook page before Saturday’s game. If you pick correctly, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win two tickets to the Champs Sports Bowl on December 29, 2011!

Pittsburgh leads series 21-7 (last meeting:  Oct. 23, 2010: Pittsburgh 41, Rutgers 21)

The Big East picture will become a little clearer this week as Pittsburgh travels to Piscataway to face Rutgers. Both teams top the early season standings with 1-0 records, while conference favorite West Virginia opens league play this week. Pitt beat an emotionally-drained Rutgers squad by 20 points last year. It was the Scarlet Knights first game after defensive lineman Eric LeGrand was paralyzed while attempting to make a tackle against Army. This season’s matchup possesses different story lines, as Rutgers tries to solve a quarterback quandary and Pittsburgh searches for offensive dimension.

 The Panthers cruised to a lopsided victory over No. 16 South Florida last Thursday, pulling away in the second half. Pitt’s last win against a ranked opponent also came against the Bulls in 2008. Running back Ray Graham was nearly unstoppable in the 44-17 win Thursday, rushing for 226 yards and two scores on 26 carries. His performance caught the eye of NBA superstar LeBron James, who called Graham a “beast” on his Twitter account. The Panthers are still looking for some consistency from quarterback Tino Sunseri. The redshirt junior has thrown five touchdowns this season against four interceptions.

Rutgers is also searching for some stability at the quarterback position. Head Coach Greg Schiano benched starter Chas Dodd in favor of true freshman Gary Nova last week against Syracuse. Nova entered the game with his team down 10, and guided the Scarlet Knights to a double-overtime comeback win on the road at the Carrier Dome. Schiano has been mum on his choice as starter this week, making it a possible game-time decision. One player who continues to shine for Rutgers is All-Big East receiver Mohamed Sanu. The New Jersey native is a one-man show for the Scarlet Knights, averaging 11 receptions per game. Fullback Joe Martinek is the next leading receiver on the team with 10 total catches. Sanu also has more receiving yards than the entire team has rushing yards.

Extra Points:

*Rutgers is No. 3 in the country in time of possession, a statistic normally reserved for run-oriented teams. The Scarlet Knights average only 2.1 yards per carry, but lead the nation in turnover ratio.


*Pittsburgh’s Graham has more rushing yards (734) through five games than any other back in team history, a list that includes Tony Dorsett, LeSean McCoy and Dion Lewis.

Expert Picks

Michel Champagne Michel Champagne currently serves as Chairman of Florida Citrus Sports, where his duties include leading Team Selection Committee. He is the Vice President of Operations and General Manager, Orlando Region for Bright House Networks.
Pick: Pitt
Season Record: 5-1
Greg Warmoth Greg Warmoth spent 11 years as the weekend sports anchor for WFTV Channel 9 in Orlando before switching to the news desk in 1997. He currently anchors Eyewitness News Daybreak, Eyewitness News This Morning on TV-27 and Eyewitness News at Noon.
Pick: Pitt
Season Record: 4-2
Marc Daniels Marc Daniels hosts The Beat Of Sports on ESPN 1080 AM in Orlando every weekday morning from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. Daniels has over 20 years of experience on the air and is most well known as “the Voice of the UCF Knights” for all football, men’s basketball and baseball games on the UCF ISP Sports Network.
Pick: Pitt
Season Record: 3-3
Jerry Greene Jerry Greene spent 33 years as a sportswriter at Florida Today, the Pensacola News Journal and the Orlando Sentinel before retiring in 2009. He now co-hosts The Beat of Sports with Daniels and contributes to ESPN.com’s Page 2 section.
Pick: Pitt
Season Record: 3-3

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