Cincinnati-Pittsburgh: Almost a Championship Game

Daniel KablackCorrespondent IIIDecember 5, 2009

CINCINNATI - NOVEMBER 27:  Tony Pike #15 of the Cincinnati Bearcats throws a pass during the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Nippert Stadium on November 27, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

There will be no official sponsor.

It will not be hosted at a neutral site.

In fact, Saturday's game between the University of Pittsburgh Panthers and Cincinnati Bearcats was scheduled months ago as nothing more than a late season Big East match-up.

But Heinz Field would make the perfect site for a Big East Championship game and that's just what we've stumbled into.

The Bearcats will travel three hours north to Pittsburgh as they play for the Big East title in a de facto conference championship game.

Cincinnati enters the game at 11-0, looking to go undefeated for the first time in coach Brian Kelly's career. Though they are the defending Big East champs, many figured another team would step up to take the title from them.

That has yet to happen.

The Bearcats have navigated many obstacles this year. Early in the year, starting Quarterback Tony Pike was in the hunt for a Heisman Trophy. After re-injuring his wrist and sitting out nearly a month, he stepped in for five plays and threw two touchdowns. His back-up, QB Zach Collaros, showed that during those few weeks, he himself could probably start at any school in the nation.

Cincinnati looks to turn this game into a track meet, as the Bearcats have some of the best skill players in college football. Pittsburgh will hope to turn the game into a fight in the trenches and give the ball to freshman RB Dion Lewis.

Cincinnati has two obstacles remaining in their path. The game at Pittsburgh, and the prospect of having an undefeated record.

The last team to go undefeated in Big East play was the West Virginia Mountaineers in 2005, going 7-0 and 11-1 overall. They ended the season putting Georgia to shame in the Sugar Bowl.

No team in the last ten years from the Big East conference has finished the season undefeated overall.

Saturday, December 5th, 2009 that will change.

Cincinnati 38, Pittsburgh 20


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