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Champs Sports Bowl checks out matchup

Rich Bradley, a Penn Hills High School graduate, represented the Champs Sports Bowl on Saturday night at Heinz Field for Pitt's game against No. 23 Cincinnati.

The bowl, set for Dec. 29 in Orlando, Fla., will match a Big East school against an ACC team after the BCS bowls make their selections. The bowl is not required to choose the conference runner-up, and the total payout for both teams is $4.25 million.

Bradley runs a marketing company in Orlando and works part-time for the bowl committee. He also was a freelance sports reporter for several publications in the 1980s.

Bradley said the bowl is looking for the best matchup -- "two teams that have done well and will give us a nice, competitive game," he said.

N.C. State beat West Virginia, 23-7, in last year's matchup. Pitt played in the bowl in 2001 -- when it was known as the Tangerine Bowl -- beating N.C. State, 34-19, behind MVP Antonio Bryant.

Around the Panthers

Running back Ray Graham, out for the season with a knee injury, led the Panthers out of the tunnel before the game while hobbling on his crutches. ... Senior Lucas Nix missed his fourth consecutive game (minus two plays) with a nagging left knee injury. He was replaced at left guard by Aliquippa graduate Juantez Hollins. ... Wide receiver Mike Shanahan replaced Cam Saddler (out for the season with a fractured sternum) as the No. 1 punt returner, but he didn't try to catch either of Cincinnati's first two punts. ... Aaron Donald made his first start at defensive end when Pitt opened in a four-man front, joining Chas Alecxih, Myles Caragein and Brandon Lindsey.

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