Pitt’s road to recovery starts at A&M |

Pitt’s road to recovery starts at A&M

Editor’s note: This article was revised 5:55 p.m. Sept. 27, 2003, to remove an inappropriate characterization of the ROTC.

Pitt lost a game last week that knocked the Panthers from the ranks of the undefeated.

The 35-31 upset at Toledo did not torpedo Pitt’s season.

That’s a distinction that has apparently been lost on a great many Pitt fans, the ones who have been whining and crying incessantly ever since Sept. 20.

Get over it, already.

There’s a great deal of football yet to be played, and Pitt is still a team that was talented enough and accomplished enough to be recognized as the No. 9 team in the nation prior to getting ambushed at the other end of the Ohio Turnpike.

The Panthers can and will bounce back, beginning this afternoon at Texas A&M.

Pitt wins today because Texas A&M is a team that’s giving up an average of 197.3 rushing yards per game.

Pitt wins today because Texas A&M has managed to amass one more first down than its opponents while playing host to Arkansas State and Utah and losing at Virginia Tech.

Pitt wins today because Texas A&M’s talented quarterback, Reggie McNeal, will be making just his fifth collegiate start. Yes, McNeal beat Oklahoma as a reliever a year ago, but he’s thrown for two touchdowns and been picked off twice in three starting assignments this season.

And Pitt wins today because invading “Aggieland” isn’t nearly the intimidating and monumental challenge it used to be.

Texas A&M went 55-4-1 at Kyle Field in the 1990s.

It also went 3-4 at home in 2002, losing to Virginia Tech, Texas Tech, Nebraska and Missouri in the process.

And while Kyle Field remains a place of great tradition, color and pageantry, none of that should matter once the ball is kicked off.

So, they have a dog (Reveille, actually Reveille VII). Is Pitt supposed to be intimidated by Lassie?

So, they have yell practice and yell leaders and a student body that stands as a symbolic 12th man. Should Pitt come unglued because the local ROTC or whatever is making a lot of noise•

So, John David Crow played at A&M and Bear Bryant coached there. They’ll be about as much of a factor today as Mike Ditka and Jock Sutherland.

The Aggies still have to find a way to tackle Brandon Miree and a way to stop Rod Rutherford to Larry Fitzgerald.

The Panthers must bounce back, as the good teams invariably do, but they’ll have the added motivation of revenge on their side as they endeavor to put Toledo behind them.

Texas A&M won, 14-12, last season at Heinz Field.

Pitt will turn that outcome around to the tune of 30-20 today.

And once that’s accomplished, the Panthers will be right back on track.

As upsetting as the Toledo experience proved to be, it’ll be forgotten quickly if Pitt goes on to win at A&M, if Pitt pummels a Notre Dame team that’s worse than any Irish teams that had been coached by Bob Davie, if Virginia Tech is bested for a third straight season and if the Panthers can finally get over the hump against Miami.

It’s November they remember.

Even for teams that lose at Toledo.

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