College Football Videos
In precisely 13 days, Pitt will improve to 4-1 and rekindle talk of how much better they are this season.
Never mind that their latest victories will have come against The Citadel and Toledo.
Two weeks after that, the Panthers could be 6-1, perhaps prompting the same 11 souls who voted for them in the latest Associated Press poll to do it again.
All it'll take is victories over Syracuse and Central Florida.
We know better, though. We know Pitt could win 20 consecutive games against mediocre competition and not escape the truth that was so graphically revealed Saturday in a 38-23 loss to Michigan State.
That truth, in fact, will stalk these Panthers until they play another high-quality team (not that we're positive Michigan State is such a team).
That truth is this: Pitt still isn't ready to play with the big boys.
What's more, the Panthers might not be any better than they were last season, no matter the record.
"We didn't make a play today, plain and simple," coach Dave Wannstedt said. "We didn't make a catch. We didn't make a block. We didn't make a sack."
Actually, they did make a sack. But not much else. The numbers evoked the humiliating losses to Notre Dame and West Virginia last season -- games in which Pitt's run defense offered all the resistance of a wet paper towel.
Michigan State piled up 335 yards on the ground and 533 yards overall. Its offensive line outweighed Pitt's front by 45 pounds per man, and it showed.
So did the pronounced difference in quarterback play. Michigan State's Drew Stanton was by far the best player on the field, torturing Pitt on option runs, scrambles and pin-point passes. If not for a couple of drops, he would have had an even bigger day than 16-for-25 passing and 105 yards rushing would suggest.
Pitt's Tyler Palko, meanwhile, struggled to a 28-for-47 showing with two interceptions and a lost fumble. He also was victimized by drops, including three by Darrell Strong.
The misguided among us will point to a play late in the first quarter as the turning point. Pitt had just taken a 10-0 lead when Wannstedt shockingly called for an onside kick.
Pitt recovered but went backward, punted and never stopped the Spartans again.
"It changed the game in a bad way for us because we didn't keep on pounding at Michigan State," cornerback Darrelle Revis said. "I think a lot of people just got distracted and thought we were going to win because we were up 10-0. Guys relaxed and took plays off."
I loved the call. Wannstedt obviously knew he was outmanned and was shooting for as fast and large a lead as possible.
Fact is, Strong dropped a pass on Pitt's first play after the kick.
Fact is, Pitt's defense couldn't get off the field. It allowed Michigan State to convert 11-of-15 third-down chances and produce scoring drives of 13, 11, seven, eight, 11 and 10 plays. The last of those covered 99 yards late in the third quarter.
The field could have been 800 yards long, and Michigan State would have covered it in about 70 plays.
All option plays, of course.
By the way, where is Pitt's much-publicized freshman class• Maybe it's time to get some of those guys -- safety Elijah Fields, tight end Nate Byham, multi-purpose back Dorin Dickerson and cornerback Aaron Berry come to mind -- on the field.
Senior linebacker H.B. Blades was asked if he still believes this team is better than last year's.
"I'm still convinced," Blades said. "We just have to pick up the pieces and go out and prove it next week."
Problem is, nothing that happens next week will matter.
You can't prove anything against The Citadel.
College Football Stories
Top Sports Stories
NFL Game Stories
MLB | NHL
NASCAR | Tennis
News | Living
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates claim Ishikawa off waivers; Marte injured
- Alvarez homer triggers winning outburst for Pirates
- Don’t remove history’s lessons
- U.S.-led coalition unleashes wave of airstrikes on Raqqa, Syria
- Notorious New York escapee Sweat returns to prison
- Coaching next step for local tennis standout Watt
- Woman shot at Kennywood Park in ‘freak accident’
- Risk of government shutdown to worry Congress on return from July Fourth
- McCutchen, Pirates hitters increasingly in crosshairs
- Police: Maine man shoots off firework from top of head, dies
- Pirates minor league report: Ramirez more mindful while at plate