The second week of college football got underway on Thursday night as the Pittsburgh Panthers headed up the Ohio River for a showdown with the Cincinnati Bearcats.
Having fallen behind both Louisville and South Florida in Big East preseason odds, Cincinnati – 2011’s division co-champion, an accolade shared with the now-departed West Virginia – was hoping to make a statement in its first game of the season. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh entered Nippert Stadium on the back of a surprise Week 1 loss to Youngstown State of the FCS.
Cincinnati lived up to its billing as favorite, impressively defeating the Panthers 34-10. The 24-point margin smashed the -4 ½ spread the Bearcats opened the game at, while the 44 total points scored fell under the predicted 49.
Cincinnati’s victory came on the back of impressive performances from QB Munchie Legaux and RBs George Winn and Ralph Abernathy.
Legaux’s numbers through the air (14-28, 205 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT) were respectable but it was the 117 yards on the ground that raised some eyebrows. Legaux looked like a genuine double-threat, as did RB Ralph Abernathy, who caught both touchdown passes. His 71 yards receiving eclipsed 20 rushing yards. Winn had just six carries but made them count, tallying 95 yards and two touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh struggled to maintain any kind of offense. The Panthers went into halftime with a big fat zero on the board having punted four times, lost a fumble, thrown an interception, and finally run out of time on the clock.
The second half was much the same, with three punts separating a field goal early in the third and a 76 yard touchdown-scoring drive with 3:21 left in the game. QB Tino Sunseri finished the game with 278 yards (24-37, 1 TD, 1 INT) and RB Ray Graham had 103 yards on the ground. Still, lack of execution on third down (7-18) ultimately cost the Panthers.
Pittsburgh (0-2, 0-1 Big East) will now look to rebound next week against Virginia Tech (1-0, 1-0 ACC). Cincinnati (1-0, 1-0 Big East) will look to maintain winning ways, welcoming Delaware State (1-0, 0-0 road) of the FCS in Week 3.
College football continues Friday night with Utah (1-0, 0-0 road) traveling to Utah State (1-0, 1-0 home).
The Utes dispatched Northern Colorado 41-0 last Thursday. The Aggies – who knocked off Southern Utah 34-3 on Saturday – will pose a tougher threat defensively than the Bears, but Utah should get the better of the meeting.
Oddsmakers have Utah favored by a touchdown with the final score narrowly expected to fall below the over/under, which is set at 53.
Utah is expected to finish second behind USC in the Pac-12’s South Division. A solid performance on Friday night will go a long way to cementing that prediction.
Saturday’s full slate of action includes #2 USC (1-0, 0-0 road) making a rare trip to the East Coast to take on Syracuse (0-1, 0-1 home) at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. USC is currently favored at -26 ½ and will be expected to replicate last weekend’s 41-10 mauling of Hawaii. The over/under is set at a whopping 65 points.
Elsewhere, Penn State (0-1, 0-0 road) will be hoping for a bit more fortune after this week’s announcement that they can win the Big Ten’s Leaders Division even if they’re not eligible to play for a championship. All of that could prove mute if Virginia (1-0, 1-0 home) takes a victory. The Cavaliers enter as favorites, with a -9 ½ advantage. The over/under is set at 45 points.