Today's Bowl Game

December 27, 2003|By Orlando Sentinel

Continental Tire Bowl

Pittsburgh (8-4) vs. Virginia (7-5)

Time, TV: 11 a.m., ESPN2

Line: Virginia by 3

Why you should watch: You'll get to see the nation's most talented player, Pittsburgh WR Larry Fitzgerald. It'll likely be his final college game and he'll likely be running free all day.

About Pittsburgh: Fitzgerald (87 catches, 22 TDs, 132.9 yards per game) is a sublime talent, and he and QB Rod Rutherford (286.1 ypg, 35 TDs, 13 picks) work well together. The Panthers allowed 38 sacks, a high number considering Rutherford's athleticism. The defense struggled, especially against the run (184.1 ypg, 23 TDs allowed).

About Virginia: The running game was a disappointment (124.8 ypg), forcing the Cavaliers to rely too heavily on the pass. QB Matt Schaub had a nice season (270.8 ypg, 17 TDs, nine picks) but suffered from not having a legitimate deep threat. TE Heath Miller, TB Alvin Pearman and TB Wali Lundy combined to catch 13 of the Cavs' 22 TD passes. LB Ahmad Brooks and DE Chris Canty are the standouts on a young defense.

The key: If Virginia runs effectively, Pittsburgh is in trouble, no matter how well Fitzgerald plays.

The buzz: This was a disappointing season for both, with each suffering two losses it shouldn't have.

The pick: Pittsburgh, 30-27.

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