PITTSBURGH (AP) - Iowa was supposed to be Pittsburgh's first major test during a season in which the Panthers expected to be firmly locked into the Top 25 by now.
Bowling Green changed all that.
Now, the first Iowa-Pittsburgh meeting in 56 years may be one of those pivotal games that determines the course of a team's season. For the Panthers, it may hint at whether they are ready to start winning regularly with their Big East schedule about to start.
A season-opening 27-17 loss to Bowling Green of the Mid-American Conference did nothing for the Panthers confidence, and pushed them out of the Top 25 only days after they reached it. They struggled a week later to beat Buffalo 27-16, leading by one point after three quarters. They certainly don't want to go into their conference schedule with a 1-2 record in three home games.
pponent after starting the season by beating Maine, Florida International and rival Iowa State at home.
``They're a Big Ten school, and they're 3-0,'' Pitt tight end Dorin Dickerson said. ``People think the Big Ten teams are bigger and stronger, and that's going to be a big test for us. But we'll see.''
To Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt, Iowa reminds him of the Panthers' Big Ten opponent from last season, Michigan State.
That might not be good. Pitt, forced to start backup quarterback Kevan Smith, lost 17-13 at East Lansing - the beginning of a four-game losing streak that derailed their season following a 2-0 start.
``We don't want to do that this time around,'' quarterback Bill Stull said. ``We just have to go out and execute. We've had a week and a half to prepare for them, and we need to go out and get the job done.''
So far, Pitt's offense has been pass-heavy - certainly not what was expected with LeSean McCoy coming off a 1,328-yard freshman season. He ran for three touchdowns against Buffalo, but Pitt's two MAC opponents successfully forced the Panthers to try to push the ball downfield with Stull's throwing, not McCoy's running.
Stull was among the national leaders in passing attempts through two games, while McCoy hasn't had a 100-yard game since the season-ending upset of West Virginia last December.
t whatever we must do to win the game, I'm all for that,'' McCoy said. ``The way that defenses are facing me, the game plans against me, it forces me to do different things. I'll do whatever it takes.''
As for the lack of 100-yard games, offensive lineman John Malecki said: ``Shady (McCoy) had three touchdowns in the last game, and that's what's great.''
Pitt hasn't beaten a Big Ten team since defeating Penn State 12-0 at Three Rivers Stadium in 2000.

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