by CFP Staff
January 8, 2011
Pittsburgh clobbered Kentucky 27-10 in the BBVA Compass Bowl, formerly the PapaJohns.com Bowl, in Birmingham, Alabama on Saturday, January 8th.
The victory gave interim head coaches a 3-1 record for the 2010 bowl season as defensive coordinator, and former SMU head coach, Phil Bennett acted as the head coach for the Panthers. Miami (Fla.), Miami (Ohio) and Northern Illinois also played their bowl games under the direction of interim head coaches. The Hurricanes were the only loser among that group.
Bennett won't have to worry about where his next job will be. He was hired on Friday as defensive coordinator for Baylor.
Pitt finished the season 8-5, but head coach Dave Wannstedt was forced out at the end of the regular season. The Panthers hired Miami (Ohio) head coach Michael Haywood on December 16th, but he was subsequently fired on January 1st after being arrested on New Year's on a domestic violence charge against a woman with whom he had a child.
The players dedicated the win to Wannstedt who assisted with bowl preparations, but watched the game at his home in Florida. He opted to not coach Pitt in the bowl game out of concern that his presence would be a distraction.
Kentucky became the third SEC team to enter its 2010 bowl game with a 6-6 record and then proceed to lose - Tennessee fell to North Carolina in double-OT at the Music City Bowl and Georgia was knocked off by Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl.
Kentucky scored first to go up 3-0 after the first quarter, but Pitt had taken a 20-3 lead in the 3rd quarter before the 'Cats ever sniffed the end zone. When Kentucky cut the lead to 20-10, the Panthers responded with a 69-yard drive to push the lead back to 17 on a Dion Lewis 2-yard run. Lewis had 105 yards rushing on the day.
The Panthers built their lead on Kentucky special teams mistakes. The first error came just before halftime when a blocked punt set up a 10-yard drive that was finished by QB Tino Sunseri's 1-yard run for a 13-3 Pitt lead. And Kentucky's first drive of the second half ended with an incomplete pass off a fake punt, an error which led to Sunseri’s 13-yard touchdown strike to Brock DeCicco and a 20-3 Pittsburgh advantage.
Kentucky was playing without starting QB Mike Hartline who was suspended in response to his December 10 arrest on second-degree disorderly conduct and public intoxication charges.
Kentucky fell to 8-7 in overall in bowl games after Joker Phillips became the first head coach in school history to lead the 'Cats to a bowl game in his inaugural season. Kentucky's streak of 6-win seasons was extended to five, tying a feat that was last accomplished from 1909-13.
Pitt improved to 12-15 in bowl games with its second straight bowl win.