by CFP Staff
January 8, 2012
Playing in the same bowl game under the direction of an interim head coach for the second straight year, Pittsburgh was lethargic and dominated as SMU won 28-6 in the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham on Saturday afternoon.
SMU scored touchdowns on its second, third and fourth possessions while Pitt punted twice, fumbled once and eventually kicked a field goal as SMU led 21-3 at the end of the first quarter.
For the game, Pitt was held to just 10 yards rushing, 205 total yards, and negative yardage on four drives. Additionally, the Panthers were forced to punt 7 times, including on 5-of-6 drives in the second half.
The win gave SMU head coach June Jones his 100th career win and the school improved to 6-7-1 all-time in bowl games. SMU also took a 3-2-1 lead in the all-time series with Pitt, including 2-0 in Cotton Bowl meetings.
SMU finished the season 8-5, tying the 2009 team for the school's best record since 1984. Pittsburgh finished 6-7 for its third losing, and fourth non-winning, season in the last seven years.
First-year Pitt head coach Todd Graham left after the regular season to take the reins at Arizona State, leaving defensive coordinator Keith Patterson to serve as interim head coach. Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst now takes over the program as Pitt's sixth head coach in just a little over a year.
Pitt has a rocky past year that began with Dave Wannstedt's forced resignation following the 2010 regular season. His assistant and former SMU head coach Phil Bennett was acting head coach in Pitt's 27-10 win over Kentucky in last season's BBVA Compass Bowl.
Michael Haywood was then hired December 16, but was fired on January 1st after he was arrested and jailed on New Year's Eve on a domestic violence charge. Graham was hired on January 14, but left after the 2011 season to become head coach at Arizona State. Patterson became head coach No. 5 when he was named interim head coach for Pitt's repeat appearance in this year's BBVA Compass Bowl game. Chryst was announced as the new man in charge on December 22.
Ironically, SMU head coach June Jones was the leading the candidate for the ASU job until negotiations broke off.
Pitt was playing in its 28th bowl game overall and fourth in-a-row while becoming the first team to play in the BBVA Compass Bowl for the second time. The Panthers carried a 2-bowl winning streak into the game, but saw its overall bowl record drop to 12-16.
SMU was playing in its third consecutive bowl game under Jones after being absent from the postseason from 1985 to 2008. Jones in his fourth year at the helm of the Mustangs’ program after coaching nine seasons at Hawaii where he led the Warriors to a BCS berth in 2007 at the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Prior to heading to Hawaii, Jones had a 12-year coaching career in the NFL, including head coaching stops at Atlanta and San Diego.
The Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com projected Pitt as a 2.84-point winner and 64.3% of fan voters favored the Panthers.