NCF Nation: Nate Nix

PITTSBURGH -- Quick review of the first half at Heinz Field, where No. 15 Pittsburgh leads No. 5 Cincinnati 31-17:

[+] EnlargeJonathan Baldwin
AP Photo/Keith SrakocicJonathan Baldwin had two touchdown catches in the first half.
Best player in the half: Pitt's Dion Lewis has cemented his status as the Big East offensive player of the year. The Panthers gave Cincinnati a heavy dose of the running back in the first half, as Lewis carried 29 times for 108 yards and added three catches for 23 yards. Lewis has plenty of room to run behind his offensive line, which has overpowered the Bearcats' defense.

Turning point: Two big mistakes -- which Cincinnati has avoided all year -- turned into 10 points for Pittsburgh. Tony Pike threw a second-quarter interception, just his fourth of the year -- which led to a Dan Hutchins field goal. On the Bearcats' next possession, Nate Nix blocked a punt that ended up inside the Cincinnati 5. Bill Stull ran it in for a touchdown, making it 31-10 late in the half.

What Pitt needs to do: More of the same. The Panthers are dominating on both sides of the ball and would be up by 21 points if not for Mardy Gilyard's 99-yard touchdown return. Pitt needs to stay aggressive and not sit on the lead, because the Bearcats' offense is too explosive.

What Cincinnati needs to do: Reboot. The defensive game plan is not working at all. Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco needs to find something to counter the running of Lewis, and the Cincinnati offensive line has to do a better job of protecting Pike. The Bearcats have not trailed in the second half all season, so we'll see what they're made of today.

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