• Home
  • NCAA
  • Pitt football won’t be bowling this holiday season

Share & Comment:

Pitt football won’t be bowling this holiday season

They say bowling is a great indoor pastime this time of year, especially around the holiday season.

Unfortunately for Pitt’s football team, it will have to settle for actual bowling in December and January since it won’t be going to a bowl game. That became official on Saturday evening when a game Panthers squad fell to an undefeated Florida State team by a score of 24-7 at Acrisure Stadium.

Pitt entered the game as a 22-point underdog but kept it close in the first half thanks to a bend-but-don’t-break defense.

The Panthers took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter on a nine-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Christian Veilleux to receiver Bub Means. Unfortunately, the Seminoles scored 10-unanswered points to take a 10-7 lead into the locker room and two more touchdowns in the second half to walk away with a hard-fought 24-7 victory.

The outcome may have been different if not for a fumble by receiver Konata Mumphield at the goal line that wiped out what would have been an 82-yard touchdown in the first half.

I say it may have, but probably not.

The Seminoles came into the game ranked fourth in the country, so the fact that Pitt put up such a tough fight, especially on defense, was commendable. If only the Panthers could have showed that same fight a week earlier when it was blown out by Notre Dame, 58-7, in South Bend. If only Pitt could have shown that kind of fight all year, perhaps the football program wouldn’t be sitting here 2-7 with three games to play.

And to reiterate: it will only be three games, now that the Panthers have been eliminated from bowl contention. It will be Pitt’s first losing season since 2017. The only great thing about that campaign was an upset over a second-ranked Miami squad at Heinz Field that knocked the Hurricanes out of the national title picture. Check that, there was another decent development in 2017: Freshman Kenny Pickett started against Miami at quarterback and remained in that role over the next four years. During that time, the Panthers made it to two ACC title games and won the conference crown just two years ago.

Does Veilleux have that kind of juice? The sophomore transfer from Penn State certainly has potential and has shown a bit of it since officially being named the starter against Louisville. Veilleux has passed for 1,018 and six touchdowns to go along with seven interceptions in five appearances–including four as the starter.

Not great numbers, but the Pitt offense seems much more potent under Veilleux than it did when Phil Jurkovec, a transfer from Boston College via Notre Dame, was the starting quarterback over the first half of the year.

One may never know what Pitt’s fate may have been had Veilleux been named the starting quarterback right out of the gate, but I suppose it’s better late than never.

Now, the Panthers will have two more years to build their program around Veilleux, and if they even approach the kind of success they enjoyed under Pickett, it will be more than worth it.

As for 2023? I don’t think anyone saw such a disastrous year coming, but that’s life in college football.



Sign up below for the latest news, stories and podcasts from our affiliates