No. 24 Utah vs No. 15 Pitt Preview




The long awaited 2005 Fiesta Bowl rematch between Utah and Pittsburgh features the same schools, but much different teams.  This Pitt team, full of NFL prospects, should be much, much better than the team Utah thumped 35-7 in their first BCS Busting, undefeated season.

For the Utes, their game plan is all about stopping RB Dion Lewis.  As a freshman, Lewis rushed for 1,799 yards earning him 2009 Big East Offensive Player of the Year honors.  This season he looks to build on his stellar freshman season and make a run at the Heisman Trophy.

Pitt will be using a new QB, sophomore Tino Suneri.  As a red shirt freshman in 2009 he completed 10-17 passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns.  Pitt expects big things from Sunseri, but making his first start on the road in a hostile environment will be challenging.

Also on offense, Pitt has a great receiver in Jonathan Baldwin.  He is a 6'5" athletic "freak" that can jump through the roof.  He will likely cause matchup problems for Utah with his great size and athleticism.  Utah's 6'0" All America candidate CB Brandon Burton will likely take on the task of covering him.

Utah will look to get pressure on Sunseri with their deep and talented defensive line.  Pitt returns just two offensive line starters from last season and combines for just 42 combined starts, ranking 92nd in the NCAA in experience.

Expect lots of blitzing from Utah against the inexperienced QB and Offensive Line.  That is Utah's biggest strength defensively against the Panthers.  Getting pressure could also help slow the run game with Dion Lewis.

Defensively, Pitt will be very tough.  

Coach Whittingham compares their defense to TCU's, who gave Utah fits last season.  Pitt returns six starters from their 23rd ranked defense in 2009 that allowed 319.3 yards of total defense each game.

Pitt has arguably the best pair of defensive ends in the country with 2009 Co-Defensive Player of the Year Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard.  Both are projected to be early NFL draft picks and can cause Utah problems on offense.

Fortunately for Utah, one of their biggest strengths is their offensive line.  The Utes return four of five starters from 2009 including two players on the Outland Trophy Watch List, Zane Taylor and Caleb Schlauderaff.  It will be strength vs. strength for both teams.

Jordan Wynn is playing his first game since his breakout performance in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl where he passed for over 300 yards earning MVP honors.  Utah hopes he will pick up right were he left off as they expect big things from him this season.

Utah is a three-point favorite to win the game.  Pitt will be Utah's highest ranked home opener opponent ever.  It will be a game you don't want to miss.

For more coverage on the Pitt game, check out our Q&A with Pitt Script and preview of Pittsburgh.

Follow Michael Rueckert on Twitter @MichaelRueckert

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