The Pitt Panthers (3-2, 1-0) dominated from the opening kickoff as they destroyed the USF Bulls (4-1, 0-1) 44-17 tonight at Heinz Field.
The Pitt offense gashed the USF defense all night, racking up 524 yards of total offense on the Bulls. RB Ray Graham had his way all night against the front seven of USF, rushing for 226 yards on 26 carries and 2 touchdowns while also catching 4 balls for 42 yards out of the backfield. The Pitt offensive line gave Graham plenty of open lanes to run all night, and even when the play was bottled up Graham was able to break 2 or 3 tackles and get a big play.
Pitt QB Tino Sunseri didn't need to have a good game for the Panthers to win, but he had his best game of the season for the Panthers. Sunseri went 22-33 tonight for 216 yards and a touchdown. As opposed to previous games, Sunseri took care of the ball all night, rarely putting the ball where it could have been intercepted. A big reason for this was the lack of a pass rush on the Bulls. USF has had a problem getting pressure on the quarterback all season, and even when bringing 5 or 6 rushers, the Pitt offensive line gave Sunseri enough time to make the correct decision. Sunseri also was effective on the ground as well, running for 35 yards and a touchdown on the night.
The Bulls got off to a great start when Mike Jeune recovered a Darius Patton fumble on the opening drive. USF took the ball right down the field and B.J. Daniels' 12-yard rushing touchdown gave the Bulls an early 7-0 lead. Pitt immediately came back to tie it up, with Sunseri capping off a 77-yard drive with a 9-yard bootleg.
After two Pitt field goals to five the Panthers a 13-7 lead, the Bulls power running game continued to produce and the Bulls capped a 12 play 80-yard drive with a Demetris Murray 7-yard touchdown to give the Bulls a 14-13 lead.
But from that point on it was all Pitt. The Panthers outscored the Bulls 31-3 after Murray's touchdown, and it really could have been a lot worse than the final score indicated. Graham scored on a 13 yard touchdown to give the Panthers back the lead, and Hubie Graham's touchdown grab on Pitt's first offensive series of the 2nd half opened the floodgates. Pitt added scores from Zach Brown, Graham, and a 47-yard field goal from Kevin Harper to finish the scoring on the night.
While the Bulls offense was ok, the offense stalled before they could get near scoring range. Daniels had a so-so game, going 18-36 for 233 yards while also running for 43 yards and a score. Darrell Scott and Demetris Murray were fine running the ball, going for 76 and 67 yards respectively, but it just wasn't going to be enough with the way Pitt's offense was going.
USF have next week off before talking on the UConn Huskies October 15th in East Hartford.