Monday, August 4, 2008

CFB Preseason Rankings - #22

With the College Football season now less than 30 days away from getting started, GDB's resident expert Young Swole will begin unleashing his preseason top 25. Today we look at the Pitt Panthers.
For the first time since the early 1980's, there is genuine hope in Pittsburgh that their team will once again be a genuine contender. This school fell off so hard that the glory days seem like they never even happened, but thanks to some of the best young players in college football, the pride of Pitt Panther football seems to be returning.

Offense: Pitt's offense is built around LeSean "Shady" McCoy. He was the best freshman running back in the nation not named Knowshon Moreno, and its quite possible he could be even better this year. What will really decide if Pitt's offense takes off is the passing game. Bill Stull is back behind center after missing almost all of last year with injury, and his presence should help the passing game improve. If defenses are forced to respect wide recievers like Derek Kinder, then McCoy will have even more room to run wild.

Defense: Penn State gets all the hype for being Linebacker U, but they didn't even have the best linebacker in the state on their team last year. That honor would go to Scott McKillop, who averaged a healthy 12 tackles per game. He's back this year and has some talented players surrounding him. While the Pitt defensive coordinator moved to Auburn, the presence of Dave Wannstedt always means this defense will be fundamentally sound and strong against the run, which will help keep points off the board.

Coaching: Dave Wannstedt gets clowned on a lot for being a shitty pro coach and for having an uproariously ridiculous moustache, but the fact is he has turned around a dead program and has them on the verge of contending in the Big East. All the recruiting he has done is finally kicking in and Pitt defenitely has the talent to challenge the big boys in the conference. All one has to do is look back at last year's win over West Virginia to see that Wannstedt can coach defense. Now if he can get his players to believe in their talent, Pitt may be ready to contend for a conference championship.

Predicted Schedule and Outcomes

Bowling Green - W
Buffalo - W
Iowa - W
@ Syracuse - W
@ South Florida - L
@ Navy - W
Rutgers - W
@ Notre Dame - W
Louisville - W
@ Cincinnati - L
West Virginia - L
@ Connecticut - L

It is truly a tale of two schedules for Pitt. Early on, there are more cupcakes than a hostess factory. Look for the Panthers to put in work early. Most of the tough games are backloaded and its not going to be easy to carry momentum as the games have more pressure involved. Cincinnati is always a tough place to play and I can't see Pat White losing to Pitt 2 years in a row. While an 8-4 season may seem dissapointing to some, true fans and football scholars will see it as a solid developing season for a team with a very bright future ahead of it.

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