Rutgers At Pittsburgh: Getting to know the Panthers

The Pittsburgh football team has not been doing well this season.

The Panthers have just four overall victories to their name, with just one coming in league competition, and are fresh off a bye after two straight disappointing losses to Big East opponents.

But, all of that aside, Pitt still has something to fight for; if they can find a way to secure wins in their final two games of the regular season, they will be bowl eligible for the fifth straight season.

And it all starts this Saturday afternoon when the Panthers take on Rutgers at Heinz field in the 30th meeting of the two squads. Although Pitt holds the 21-to-8 edge over the Scarlet Knights, Rutgers has won five of the last seven meetings, including a 34-10 victory last year.

"They've certainly gotten better and better as the season has gone on," Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said of his team's upcoming opponent. "And there is no doubt they're a very talented football team."

The core of Pitt's success this season - limited as it's been - has been on the arm of their senior quarterback Tino Sunseri who threw for 302 yards and two touchdowns in the loss against Connecticut two weeks ago.

Even more impressive is Sunseri's 67.3 completion percentage this season, all while throwing just two interceptions.

"I think there is always an advantage when you have a senior quarterback," Flood said. "He's improved and his decision making has gotten better and the great a job their offensive coaching staff at Pitt has done to get him to play that efficiently.

Sunseri has the luxury of two dominant wideout targets this season, thanks to Devin Street and Mike Shanahan who have combined for over 1500 receiving yards and eight touchdowns this year.

Pitt's potential air attack is a bit of a new beast for the Scarlet Knights who have butyl their defense around its ability to shut down the run. Rutgers has allowed just five rushing touchdowns all season; ranking them second in the nation, tied with BYU and Michigan State.

This weekend's matchup will force the Scarlet Knights into a slightly different approach with Khaseem Greene and his fellow linebackers more likely to drop back into coverage, rather than staying close to the line.

"We're certainly playing defense at a high level," Flood said. "But nothing we've done in the first ten games of this season will get us anything this week. So we can hopefully do a good job this week against a very talented Pitt offense."

Despite the lack of tallies in Pitt's win column this season, the Scarlet Knights know they can't take anything for granted - especially when it comes to their search for a Big East title.

"We've got to go back to work this week and focus on being 1-0, and make sure that all of the things that have allowed us to perform well in the past, we're continuing to do those in preparation," said Flood.

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