WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky | Sports

Cats the underdogs in bowl game

SATURDAY
Pittsburgh (7-5) vs. Kentucky (6-6), Noon (ESPN)
Line: Pittsburgh by 3½.
Series Record: First meeting.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Pittsburgh is attempting to put a positive finish on a
disappointing season that led to coach Dave Wannstedt's forced
resignation. Wannstedt will not be on the sideline for the game,
though he was with the team during bowl practice. Defensive
coordinator Phil Bennett, the former SMU head coach, will serve as
interim coach for a program that soon will have its third coach in
two months. Pitt hired Miami of Ohio coach Mike Haywood, only to
fire him after he was jailed in Indiana on a domestic violence
charge. Kentucky is trying to finish with a winning record after
losing three of its last five regular-season games under first-year
coach Joker Phillips.
KEY MATCHUP
Pittsburgh's pass rush against Kentucky QB Morgan Newton. Pitt,
which ranks 24th in the nation with 2½ sacks per game, will
pressure Newton, a sophomore filling in as the starter after Mike
Hartline was suspended following an arrest on charges of public
intoxication and disorderly conduct. Newton started eight games as
a freshman but has thrown for only 54 yards this season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Pittsburgh: DE Jabaal Sheard has 19½ sacks, including nine this
season, when he was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year. He
also forced four fumbles and had one recovery this season.
Kentucky: WR Randall Cobb already is Kentucky's career leader
with 37 touchdowns in 35 games. He's had at least one rushing,
passing or receiving in 11 of Kentucky's 12 games this season. He
ranks first in the SEC and second in the nation with 182.7
all-purpose yards per game, and leads the SEC with 79 catches for
955 yards and seven touchdowns.
FACTS & FIGURES
Pittsburgh is playing a Southeastern Conference opponent for the
first time since beating Tennessee 13-3 in 1983. Pitt is 8-1-2
against current SEC teams. ... The Panthers, who closed the regular
season by winning at Cincinnati, will try to win back-to-back games
for the second time this season. ... Kentucky is extending its
school-record streak of consecutive bowl seasons to five. This is
the Wildcats' 15th bowl appearance. ... Kentucky's 6-6 season
included a win over South Carolina one week after the Gamecocks
upset then-No. 1 Alabama. ... Kentucky has a plus-seven turnover
ratio in wins and a minus-11 in losses. ... Kentucky LB Danny
Trevathan leads the SEC with 130 tackles.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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