|Bowl eligible, Panthers eye Big East crown|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 12 November 2008 11:22|
``Two years ago we were 6-1 and couldn't find a way to get one more,'' Wannstedt said. ``We got squeezed on both ends. We didn't win enough games and we didn't have enough bowl games available to us.''
Not this year.
The Panthers locked up their first bowl bid since losing to Utah in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl by pounding Louisville last week. Yet Wannstedt hardly seems thrilled that the 20th-ranked Panthers (7-2, 3-1 Big East) are going to a postseason game.
Relieved? Sure. Happy? Not yet.
``Right now (winning the Big East) our only goal is to win a Big East championship,'' Wannstedt said.
The Panthers have their destiny in their hands. Pittsburgh is off this week and then plays Big East co-leaders Cincinnati and West Virginia.
``The No. 1 goal is to win the championship and that needs to be done one game at a time and that's the second half of the equation,'' Wannstedt said.
season. Yet the Panthers have thrived and are finding ways to win. Star running back LeSean McCoy was held to a career-low 40 yards against the Cardinals, but the Panthers dominated anyway.
``That's a nice confidence boost to the team and the entire coaching staff,'' Wannstedt said. ``You never know who's going to be the person or who is going to make the plays to win. It's nice not to be one-dimensional in any aspect of the game.''
ROBINSON HANGING ON: Syracuse coach Greg Robinson says he's not thinking about his future at the university even after a loss to Rutgers dropped him to a woeful 9-35 overall and 3-23 in the Big East during his four-year tenure.
``I don't think like that, I don't think like that at all,'' said Robinson, who at midseason admitted there hadn't been the progress that was expected when he took the job in January 2005. ``That is not something in my control. My job is to get this football team back on track and get them to play better than they did today.''
When asked after the Rutgers game if Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross had spoken to him about the future, Robinson said: ``We are going to quit talking about all this. I am not going to talk anymore about that stuff. Get off of it.''
At Robinson's weekly press conference Sunday evening, the subject was broached again.
dued but still in a joking mood.
The Orange host Connecticut on Saturday.
NOT FULL OF THEMSELVES: West Virginia coach Bill Stewart joked earlier in the season that one of the biggest problems the Mountaineers have is that fullback Owen Schmitt is now in the NFL.
Maybe, but the bigger problem for the Mountaineers has been their inability to replace Schmitt. Instead of having a bruiser like the 235-pound Schmitt in the backfield to help take some of the pressure off quarterback Pat White and tailback Noel Devine, the Mountaineers have opted to put 5-foot-9 wide receiver Jock Sanders in the backfield with White and Devine.
The experiment hasn't exactly worked. West Virginia was held under 100 yards rushing against Cincinnati for the first time in seven years. Stewart said the Mountaineers have a pair of tight ends on the roster - true freshman Ricky Kovatch and Will Johnson - who could make the switch but aren't prepared yet for rigors of life in the Big East.
The lack of a big man that can plow up the middle to keep defenses honest has allowed opponents to key on White and Devine. West Virginia is averaging 214.9 yards rushing per game, down from 297.2 yards rushing per game last year.
ust growing pains.''
NO CHANGE IN THE CARDS: Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe isn't ready to give up on the season, or his starting quarterback.
Kragthorpe said he'll sticking with senior Hunter Cantwell heading into Friday's game against No. 22 Cincinnati after Cantwell was pulled in favor of redshirt freshman Matt Simms twice during last week's disheartening 41-7 loss to Pittsburgh.
``Hunter is our guy,'' Kragthorpe said.
Cantwell has struggled at times during Louisville's current two-game skid that has dissipated the momentum of a win over South Florida on Oct. 25. His numbers against the Panthers weren't awful - he completed 15 of 28 passes for 164 yards and a score - but he also threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown and watched as a lateral pass was scooped up for a Pitt score.
Kragthorpe, however, said he's firmly behind Cantwell and ``barring something unforeseen'' doesn't expect to make any changes at the position before the end of the season because Cantwell gives the Cardinals the best chance to win.
GETTING SQUEEZED: The Big East has tried to overcome the lack of a conference title game by stretching the season into the first week of December.
It can leave teams with some pretty lengthy layoffs, and coaches appreciate the extra time to heal up some injuries, it can also put a squeeze on them in recruiting.
nal three games spread out over the next five weeks and doesn't finish the year until Dec. 6 when it hosts Pittsburgh. The positive is that the game is on national television. But it will also cost coach Randy Edsall and his staff valuable recruiting time.
``(Recruiting) is the lifeblood of any team and we're giving up a week in the contact period when I don't think it's necessary,'' Edsall said. ``You're only allowed 'X' number of days to evaluate during the season (and) you lose a face-to-face visit when you play the first week of December.''
South Florida coach Jim Leavitt has his own reason for disliking the schedule.
``I can't stand not playing,'' Leavitt said. ``It just drives me out of my mind.''
HONORS: Rutgers running back Kordell Young captured Offensive Player of the Week honors after posting a career high with 143 yards and a touchdown in a 35-17 win over Syracuse.
Cincinnati safety Aaron Webster was picked as Defensive Player of the Week after making a career-high 13 tackles - the most of any Bearcat this season - in a 26-23 overtime win at West Virginia.
Cincinnati's Mardy Gilyard was selected as the Special Teams Player of the Week after his 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the Mountaineers set the tone for the win. It was Gilyard's second kickoff return for a score this year and the 13th 100-yard kickoff return in conference history.
AP Sports Writer John Kekis in Syracuse, N.Y. contributed to this report.