Facts about UK's bowl opponent: Pittsburgh

January 8, 2011 

Location: Pittsburgh

Enrollment: 28,328

Conference: Big East

Colors: Blue and Gold

Head coach: Phil Bennett, the team's defensive coordinator, will serve as interim head coach for the bowl game while the school searches for a replacement for Michael Haywood, who was fired Jan. 1 after being arrested on a domestic violence charge. In December, Haywood took over for Dave Wannstedt, who was forced out after six seasons with the school.

How Pittsburgh got here: Pittsburgh finished the regular season 7-5 overall, and tied for first place in the Big East at 5-2 with West Virginia and Connecticut.

Best win this season: Pittsburgh opened the season ranked No. 15 but failed to register a win that resonated outside the weak Big East. However, road wins at league foes Syracuse (45-14), South Florida (17-10) and Cincinnati (28-10) went a long way toward securing the Panthers' conference co-championship.

Worst loss this season: Pittsburgh was in the driver's seat for the Big East title and automatic BCS bowl berth after a 3-0 league start heading into its Nov. 11 game at UConn. The Panthers led 21-13 late in the third quarter, but two special teams miscues led to 17 unanswered points for the Huskies. Pitt lost 30-28, and UConn went on to play in the Fiesta Bowl.

What to watch for: How will Pittsburgh respond to the turmoil of two post-season coaching changes? With seven All-Big East performers, the Panthers have the talent to dash Kentucky's hopes if they are able to get organized and motivated. However, the most valuable of those, All-America defensive end Jabaal Sheard, will miss the game after having elbow surgery. Pitt's defensive line had 29 sacks, including 10 from defensive end Brandon Lindsey and nine from Sheard. The Panthers rank 11th nationally in total defense, limiting opponents to 19.8 points a game. Offensively, the Panthers averaged 26.2 points, almost a touchdown less than Kentucky, and were plagued by turnovers. They will be without offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr., who left for Rutgers.

Bowl appearances: 26

Bowl record: 11-15

Last bowl appearance: Dec. 26, 2009 (Beat North Carolina 19-17 in the Meineke Car Care Bowl at Charlotte, N.C.)

All-time record vs. Kentucky: 0-0

Program's shining moment: Pittsburgh won eight national championships between 1915 and 1937, but its modern-day claim to fame is a 27-3 victory over No. 2 Georgia in the 1977 Sugar Bowl. Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett ran for 202 yards to secure a 12-0 season and the national title.

Fun fact: Pittsburgh has not played a team from the Southeastern Conference since 1983, when the Panthers beat Tennessee 13-3 in Knoxville. But Pitt is 8-1-2 all-time against current SEC teams.

Famous alumni: In addition to Pro Football Hall of Famers Mike Ditka, Dorsett, Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson, Dan Marino and Joe Schmidt are Academy Award-winning actor Gene Kelly, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood host Fred Rogers, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch and polio vaccine developer Jonas Salk.

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