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Midseason review: Pittsburgh

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
Our Big East midseason reviews continue today with Pittsburgh.

It's not too surprising that the Panthers are 4-1. How they've gotten there is unexpected, however. After a season-opening loss to Bowling Green at home, many wrote this year off as another disappointment and started working ahead on Dave Wannstedt's coaching obituary. Since then, though, Pitt has reeled off four straight victories, including a signature win at South Florida last time out to move to 2-0 in conference play. The wins haven't been easy or especially pretty, but the Panthers continue to improve on both sides of the ball. Young players such as Jabaal Sheard, Greg Romeus and Jonathan Baldwin are growing into their roles and making Wannstedt's years of good recruiting finally pay off.

Offensive MVP: RB LeSean McCoy. The guy they call "Shady" got off to a slow start and admitted he was pressing early while trying to match his huge freshman stats. Since then, Shady has gotten back on track, helped by a maturing offensive line. He had 149 rushing yards versus Syracuse and then followed that up with 142 yards and two scores at South Florida. McCoy seems poised for a big second half effort.

Defensive MVP: MLB Scott McKillop. The senior has already won Big East defensive player of the week honors three times and ranks second nationally in solo tackles (7.4 per game). He's accomplished this despite playing with two newcomers at the outside linebacker spots. He's not just the defensive MVP of the team but of the league as a whole in the first half.

What's next: Pitt is in great position to win the Big East, but now it has to deliver on the promise. The second half schedule features road games at Navy, Notre Dame, Cincinnati and Connecticut, and the Panthers have a much larger target on their backs. Wannstedt's first winning season and bowl game in his four years at the school seem like a given. If the team keeps improving, ambitions for this season can rise even higher.