Thursday, September 2, 2010
Pitt looks to Dion Lewis to pound Utah
By Jason Vida
15 Pittsburgh Panthers at Utah Utes, 8:30 ET: There are high hopes in the steel city that this could be the first Pittsburgh team to capture a conference crown since the Panthers shared the Big East title with three other teams back in 2004. But if Pitt has aspirations to a Big East championship and beyond it will have to figure out a way to beat the Utes at home, something no team has done since Air Force beat Utah in Salt Lake City on September 8, 2007. Oklahoma (29) and Boise State (26) are the only schools with longer active home winning streaks than Utah's 17 straight wins at home.
Expect the Panthers to give the ball to sophomore tailback Dion Lewis early and often. Only Toby Gerhart (343) carried the ball more times than Lewis (325) in 2009, and Lewis' 1,799 rushing yards were the second-most in a season in Pittsburgh history and the fourth-most ever by a freshman in the FBS. With 100 yards on the ground tonight, Lewis will extend his streak of consecutive 100-yard rushing games to nine. Believe it or not, that still wouldn't be half as long as the longest streak in Pitt history. Tony Dorsett topped the 100-yard mark in 20 straight games over the 1975 and 1976 seasons.
One thing working in the Panthers favor is that Utah has lost all five of its season openers against teams ranked in the AP poll. The Utes last took on a ranked team in its season opener in 1992, when they were thumped by Nebraska 49-22 in Lincoln, NE. All told, Utah has lost its five season openers against ranked teams by an average of nearly 22 points per game. Could tonight be different?