In the first Big East conference game of the 2011 season, we saw one of the two ranked teams in the conference (South Florida) get blown away by a team (Pittsburgh) that couldn't stop the pass. If I told you before the game that South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels would have 223 passing yards and no turnovers, you would have probably thought the Bulls had a pretty good game. Well, they lost 44-17 (and scored all 17 in the first half).
The Bulls had 425 yards of offense and yet only scored 17 points (they did give up 523 yards though). They only started four yards behind Pitt in average starting field position for the game, but eight yards behind Pitt during the second half. One thing that jumped out at me in the box score is third down conversions. Pitt finished 9/15 on third down vs. 6/15 for USF. However, in the second half Pitt (which only punted twice) was 4/8 while USF was 0/6. Another issue for South Florida was possession. Not converting third downs let to a tremendous advantage in possession in the second half. Pitt had the ball for 19:58 in the second half (11:40 of the fourth quarter) and 36:10 of the entire game. The Panthers 20-17 halftime lead exploded into the big margin we see in the final score when the Bulls couldn't keep a tired defense off the field.
South Florida remains terrible on Thursday night. They are now 0-7 in Thursday night games since coming to the Big East. The Bulls couldn't solve Pitt for the fourth meeting in a row. Just when you think a team is looking like the team to beat in the conference, they lose to a Big East team with a so-so record. Pitt looked great at home even if few fans showed up to see them. Craig James renounced South Florida and crowned Pitt the team to beat in the Big East during the broadcast. I guess we should expect neither team to win the league now.