- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Who in their right mind picked Pittsburgh to win the Big East? Wait, don't answer that.
If the Panthers are the best the Big East has to offer, well, the league may be even worse than anybody feared. Pitt was simply atrocious offensively and in other areas in a 31-3 beatdown at home to Miami. Dave Wannstedt's team falls to 1-2 and looks like a program in crisis mode at this point.
Just a quick rundown of Pitt's main problems right now:
An offensive line that can't keep defenses from charging up the middle;
An injured Greg Romeus;
An injured Dan Mason, as the middle linebacker suffered a gruesome-looking leg injury in the third quarter. He's got a dislocated kneecap and is likely gone for the year;
Lack of discipline both on (penalties -- unofficially nine on Thursday) and off (arrests -- officially four since the summer) the field;
A young quarterback whose confidence might have been shaken. Tino Sunseri looked like he got happy feet under the heavy pressure by the Miami defense, and Pat Bostick relieved him midway through the fourth quarter.
Look, Miami could be really good, and better defensively than any team left on the schedule. There's a lot of season left. But Pitt needs to fix its problems, and fast.
A FIU team that gave Rutgers and Texas A&M fits comes to Heinz Field next week, and then comes a trip to Notre Dame. If the Panthers play like they did Thursday, they could easily have three losses heading into Big East play. And that means that even a 5-2 record in league action -- which last year's 10-win team produced -- would equal a 7-5 record. Or it could be worse.
It's a vastly disappointing season for the team that was the overwhelming preseason conference favorite. Wannstedt tried to warn us that this team had issues, but most of us saw that as merely a coach downplaying expectations. It looks like Wannstedt knew something after all.
Pitt fans better hope he knows how to cure these ills.
4hSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
1dTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney