Pitt shoots blanks in Sun Bowl defeat

December, 31, 2008
12/31/08
6:03
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
 
  AP Photo/LM Otero
  Pittsburgh quarterback Bill Stull is sacked by Oregon State's Casey Noack (50) and Victor Butler (90) during the first half of the Sun Bowl. Stull was sacked six times in the loss.

Pittsburgh had hoped to use the Brut Sun Bowl as a springboard into big things next year, possibly even a preseason top 10 ranking.

What the Panthers ought to do now is find every available tape of the game and burn it, then hope no one remembers what happened.

In what has to be hands-down the worst bowl game of the year, Pitt lost 3-0 to Oregon State. Instead of building momentum, all Dave Wannstedt's team did was raise more doubts among fans whether this program can take the next step. Here's the answer: Without better quarterback play, it can't.

It's not fair to pin all the blame on quarterback Bill Stull. He was running for his life most plays, got knocked down a ton and even hurt his wrist. The biggest factor was that Pitt played without left tackle Jason Pinkston, who had a shoulder injury. Oregon State's defensive line absolutely decimated the Pittsburgh offensive front, which had been a strength of the team most of the season.Then there was a snapping wind that made throwing long patterns difficult, if not impossible, for both teams.

Still, Stull had been very shaky down the stretch this season, and he didn't have a strong enough arm to combat the wind. Why offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh didn't call more short passes or over-the-middle routes is a mystery to me. The long fades to Jonathan Baldwin had no chance of working.

The ugly numbers: Stull was 7-of-24 for 54 yards and an interception before Pat Bostick played the final four minutes. With no passing game, the Beavers loaded up against LeSean McCoy, who finished with 83 yards on 23 carries.

Pitt's only chance to score came on a late fourth-quarter field goal try by Connor Lee from 58 yards. Oregon State's score came on a 44-yarder late in the first half. Bostick was sacked near midfield to end the game.

On the plus side, Pittsburgh's defense played great and lived up to Rashaad Duncan's pregame boasts. But it had no help whatsoever.

Wannstedt can only hope recruits didn't see this game. Of course, not too many could have wanted to watch it from start to finish.

There goes the Big East's 3-0 record. The Pac-10 is now 4-0.

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