Pitt Football: Even the Refs Can't Help Wannstedt Bring Down the Irish

Dave DeBlasioCorrespondent IOctober 9, 2010

The question now is not how good are the 2010 Panthers.

The question now is how can a team this bad win the Big East?

At this juncture, West Virginia, Syracuse, and even old nemesis Rutgers look like they will give Wannstedt's Panthers all kinds of fits.

Notre Dame could have put the game away in the second half on a 45-yard Crist-to-Michael Floyd touchdown pass, but the play was flagged as offensive pass interference. The announcers on the Sirius' Catholic Channel were dumbfounded by this call as they saw absolutely no evidence of pass interference.

With Pitt only training by six points in the second half, the game began to feel like the 2004 game when Tyler Palko led the Panthers on late second-half touchdown drives aided by long 15-yard penalties.

But in the 2010 edition of Pitt-Notre Dame, the Panthers countered good plays with some very bad ones.

It didn't help the Pitt receivers, especially Shanahan, that the field was slippery or the team had on the wrong cleats. Sunseri was charged for an interception because Shanahan slipped on what should have been a sure catch. On another play Pitt was driving to score, Shanahan slipped leaving Sunseri with no one to throw to. 

Two long drives ended in three Pitt points. Hutchins had a chance to make it six, but he missed a 27-yard attempt.

Wannstedt is still too quick to bring out the field goal kicker when he needs a touchdown.

Pitt fans should feel good about the fact that Suseri actually looked like a college quarterback most of the time today.

Pitt fans shouldn't feel good about the rushing attach, which today accounted for a total of 110 yards on 31 attempts. This stat explains why some fans weren't doing cartwheels last week over Ray Graham's 279 yards. It all depends on who you play.

The Panthers passing attack wracked up 272 yards—30 more than Notre Dame—and should have been enough to win the game.

Pitt fans shouldn't feel good about the kicking game, Wannstedt's use of timeouts (do you need to call a timeout to set up a punt?), and horrible play by the defense during most of the first half.

With some help from the refs, the defense looked better in the second half, holding the Irish to six points.

With just a couple minutes left on the clock Wannstedt elected to punt rather than go for it on fourth down. The Pitt defense held, and Pitt got the ball back a few yards from their own goal line with less than two minutes to play.

Did Wannsted really believe Sunseri could lead the offense 94 yards down field to score with 1:47 remaining?

Much like the 2008 game at Notre Dame Stadium, Pitt trailed at the half 17-3. Unlike 2008, this year's team didn't have enough muscle and skill to win.

Pitt had been ranked 115th in the nation for yards penalized. With just three penalties for 23 yards today, Pitt will improve in the penalty ranking.

Of course, it always helps to have Big East officials on your side. Just ask Michael Floyd.